Sunday, April 16, 2006

I Left the Second "Best Job in America!"

(Note: this entry is much shorter than originally intended because Blogger somehow "lost" my post yesterday morning and I really don't feel like typing it all again. And yes, I used the "Save as Draft" button.")

Money magazine released its list of "Best Jobs in America" last week. Number 2 on the list was "College Professor." I wholeheartedly agree that it would be a wonderful career, but it is a tad misrepresented in the method used to rate it.
  • It includes teaching assistants and college presidents in the same category.
  • Money gives Professing a stress grade of B. Aside from getting tenure, it notes that it is a relatively stress free job. Name me a male professor that isn't losing his hair or gone prematurely gray, or any prof. that doesn't have ulcers or has been in some sort of therapy. (Just wait Colin, that full head of hair of yours is doomed. Doomed, I say!)
  • The average salary is around $80,000. If you average how much UM president Mary Sue Coleman makes with the $8,000 I made at UM as a GSI (or the $2,500 I made at Butler) then I guess this makes sense. But I know profs at small liberal arts colleges that are fortunate to make this much after thirty years. It also does not take into account how much money is invested in the education to get the job. In the CNNMoney article "Big Jobs that Pay Badly," college professors (liberal arts and research scientiests) are used as some of the prime examples.
  • The average annual job openings are 95,000 and a 10-year growth rate of 31%. Compare this to Pharmacy (ranked #9) that has 10,000 annual openings and a 10-year growth rate of 25%. What this doesn't say is how many people out there are applying for these jobs. It also mentions that things are really good for "private sector" fields in teaching, like business and health science. I guess I look at it this way. If I had finished my PhD, I would have been very lucky to find a job. I would not be able to be picky about it. If Kate (a pharmacist) decides tomorrow that she wants to work somewhere else, she would probably have at least ten offers within a week. A large portion of those 95,000 are also probably unstable adjunct positions that open up every year. Something about Money's numbers are just not right.

Okay, that is enough ranting for now.


amy7252 said...

HEY! You leave Colin's hairline out of this. So what if his maternal grandfather was completely bald?

Ah, who am I kidding? There's something sexy about a bald man. The ulcer, however? I'll pass.

brian sacawa said...

amen to point number two there. relatively stress free? who are they trying to kid?! they must not have actually talked to too many people about that. there is an inordinate amount of multitasking—especially if you are a performing musician. teaching a studio of 15 (different) individuals while maintaining an active career off campus (which includes hustling your own gigs and keeping your network together) is not the easiest balancing act. then top that off with a healthy dose of administrative and departmental red tape . . . i've noticed a few gray hairs this year—gray hairs that i pull out immediately!

croust said...

Well, here's hoping that my head of hair stays like my great-grandpa's--he made 92 with a full, thick head of Swedish hair!

Yeah, "Money" is right on with this one: "It's easier to break in at this level, and often you can teach with a master's and professional experience." Right, easy to break in when there are more than 100 PhDs applying for each musicology opening.

Or: "Professors have near-total flexibility in their schedules. Creative thinking is the coin of the realm." Of course, to say that professors have near-total flexibility ignores the fact that the average college professor puts in about 60 hours of work per week (teaching, preparing for class, grading, advising students, meeting with various committees, researching and writing that darned tenure book along with the various conference papers and journal articles that are necessary to keep your face in front of the academic community).

Is it a great job? Heck yeah! I can't wait to have a professorship! But, whatever happened to "actuary" as the best job in the country--a job with pretty much built-in stability, good pay, and low stress.

PS Joe--you leave my hair out of this!

croust said...

Oh boy. I just looked a little further into the list. Realize that I'm a musicologist who really sees himself as a historian. While "musicologist" doesn't make Money's list, "historian" does. It's somehwere around #150 on the list of "other jobs that didn't make the top 50." So, either I'm going into the 2nd best career, or the 200th. Boy, that makes me feel good...