Have I Got A Good Job Or What?

Via Michael Drake over at Strange Doctrines, the link to a WSJ article and study on the best and worst jobs in America.

Clearly, the math folks have the last laugh:  rated number one, they get the money, the working conditions and no stress:

She [Jennifer Courter] telecommutes from her home and rarely works overtime or feels stressed out. “Problem-solving involves a lot of thinking,” says Ms. Courter. “I find that calming.”

Astute readers might be guessing some of the ways this study may be less useful to folks thinking about switching careers than one might hope…but this kind of silliness is typical post holiday, pre-spring recreation in the news business.

(The worst, jobs, by the way, are what you would expect: low paid, physically demanding and dangerous.  The three at the bottom of the 200 entry list are taxi driver, dairy farmer, and, dead last, lumberjack.  Break into song here if you must.)

And anyway, finding out about a list like this leads directly to the inevitable question:  how does your own daily grind rate?

For me, it depends on how I think of myself.  If I call myself a historian — and why not, with two books of history of science/culture out and one more coming this June — then I’m in clover, baby.  Historians, whose capsule job description reads, “analyzes and records historical information from a specific era or according to a particular area of expertise,”rank seventh on the list of desirable jobs, one ahead of sociologists (hah! take that, sister-in-law!)

That it is one behind computer systems analyst takes me down a peg, I guess, and my biologist friends will condescend from their perch at number four. (Though this description seems a little limiting:  “Studies the relationship of plants and animals to their environment.”)

Still, in my guise as historian, I hold bragging rights over eleventh ranked economists (so, Brad DeLong.  You might be a sought after authority, a player in national policy making and an utterly dauntingly prolific blogger, but I like my job better…or something); philosophers at number twelve, (Hilary Putnam respectfully disagrees, and provides a quite telling data point to the contrary); and at thirteen, physicists, (so Sean Carroll, are you just going to sit their and take it?)

All well and good, until I decide to think of myself as an author, dragging in at 93.


(And as a lagniappe — what do you make of the fact that clergy come in at 70, one behind federal judges at 69?  Hanging out their between God and man carries some stress, I guess.)

Much nonesense.  Fun on a holiday morning.  Now for the French Freedom Toast.*

*Just a little trip down memory lane here to remind us of how wonderful it is to trade idiocy for at least the possibility of engaged intelligence, starting tomorrow at noon.

Image:  Paul Signac, “Le Démolisseur,” 1897-1899.

Explore posts in the same categories: journalism, random humor

5 Comments on “Have I Got A Good Job Or What?”

  1. Eric Roston Says:

    Yeah, what’s the deal with the definition of biology (“Studies the relationship of plants and animals to their environment.”)? Have I been hallucinating about Carl Woese’s career?

  2. lycaon Says:

    Hey Tom, it was great to meet you this weekend. Thanks for all the advice you gave my husband, he really took it to heart. I bought your Einstein book on Amazon as soon as we got home (don’t worry, I’ll get the Newton one too when it comes out!). While I am not good at physics, I love the IDEAS of physics and all the cool stories of physics discoveries and physicists. As long as the math doesn’t get involved!

    On the top of best jobs, I really think those rankings are rubbish. It is too subjective. Many lumberjacks LOVE lumberjacking, and plenty of telecommuters with cushy jobs hate what they do. My job is an objectively good one – not terribly difficult but still mentally stimulating, excellent work environment, kind bosses, plenty of vacation and benefits, decent pay, and room for advancement. I’m planning on leaving it the first chance I get!

  3. Kaleberg Says:

    I live in lumber country and find it odd that lumberjack is considered such a lousy job. While I am not a lumberjack, I’ve met a lot of people who’ve been in that line of work out here, and most of them liked the job. Sure, there is an element of danger. Large trees weight tons. Chainsaws can be dangerous, and forest roads can be tricky. Still, you get to work outdoors. No one is looking over your shoulder. Working with trees and wood has its own satisfactions, much like working with iron. You do a tangible job with obvious metrics. It isn’t like cleaning house and having to clean it all again the next day. (You can tell the s–t jobs because they were reserved for women until quite recently.)

    I have no great desire to be a lumberjack. It isn’t a growth industry, and it is highly automated. One man with a chain saw and loader, as they call the lumber trucks equipped with a small crane for hoisting logs on board, can do the work of a dozen fifty years ago. Still, I can definitely imagine a lot of worse jobs.

  4. Spiv Says:

    It is a curious list- as someone who had many options of jobs and related degree programs, I really tortured myself in my early college days as to just what careers I should pursue; or at least leave my options open to. I recall a little thought experiment of writing down jobs I thought I would enjoy, in no real order: astrophysicist, psychologist, artist, professor were all on there. Those are 13, 59, 80, and something else.

    This after having worked as a programmer (18), which I discovered I despised despite being very good at it. I hated sitting at a desk all day,making buttons work in software: spending hours looking for missing semi-colons. It’s a terrible job if you ask me, cushy desk or not. I would also be miserable in the top 3 on that list.

    I chose to go to school and dualed (and dueled) in fine arts and psychology. Turned out to be something between an industrial designer (9) and an aerospace engineer (33). I get to build things, get out and make something, and it’s part of a larger picture. Some of my favorite parts are getting to weld (193) and machine things (155). In my spare time I build cars (187), which costs me considerable money.

    Admittedly though, perhaps the thing that makes all of those things as fun as they are is that no single one of them is really what I do. It’s all of it. I don’t have to bore myself with some task over and over again.

  5. khushbu Says:

    when i got good job in my life

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