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Education Science

Forbes 2013 Career List Flamed By University Professors 370

An anonymous reader writes "The Forbes list of 'least stressful jobs' for 2013 is headlined by... university professors. This comes at a time in which the academic community has been featured on controversies about 100-hour week work journeys, doctors live on food stamps, tenured staff is laid off large science institutions, and the National Science Foundation suffers severe budget cuts, besides the well known (and sometimes publicized) politics of publish or perish. The Forbes reporter has received abundant feedback and published a shy, foot-note 'addendum'; however, the cited source, CareerCast (which does not map to any recognizable career journalist, but rather to a Sports writer), does not seem to have had the same luck. The comments of the Forbes reporter on the existence of a Summer break for graduates ('I am curious whether professors work that hard over the summer') are particularly noteworthy." Here is the CareerCast report the article is based on, and a list of the "stress factors" they considered. The author of the Forbes article passed on a very detailed explanation of how tough a university professor's job can be.
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Forbes 2013 Career List Flamed By University Professors

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  • by rjr162 ( 69736 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @03:48PM (#42489419)

    My wife works at a rehabilitation/nursing home and there are so many college professors in there that have gone Looney. Some think they are aliens and others have gone Looney in other ways

  • by ark1 ( 873448 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @04:04PM (#42489533)
    I appreciate all of the comments and encourage you to read them. My intention here was to relay an intriguing list put together by a career and job listing site, CareerCast, that surveyed data on 200 jobs and drew up a list of professions it deemed least stressful, according to metrics I describe above, which are weighted toward categories like physical demands, environmental conditions and risking one’s life. CareerCast didn’t measure things like hours worked and the stresses that come from trying to get papers published in a competitive environment or writing grants to fund research. Does not look like any reputable source was used to elaborate this study. No wonder it turned out botched.
  • Re:Grad students? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gorobei ( 127755 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @04:18PM (#42489611)

    Hey, what about us drones, man?

    Don't worry, you are Forbes' target audience: the under $50K/year crowd that needs to be taught how capitalism is good for you in the long run.

    As always, they'll run an article next year about how you are on a great track and maybe one day will be earning $120K/year. So please don't join Occupy Wall Street, just concentrate on not getting drunk at your next Christmas party or something.

  • Re:Professors (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hsthompson69 ( 1674722 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @04:43PM (#42489791)

    Mod parent up - professors complaining that their jobs are more stressful than others are doing so without any rational basis for comparison if their academic career didn't have any gaps while they did other jobs.

  • by Paul Fernhout ( 109597 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @11:22PM (#42492477) Homepage []
    "Here's an exciting career opportunity you won't see in the classified ads. For the first six to 10 years, it pays less than $20,000 and demands superhuman levels of commitment in a Dickensian environment. Forget about marriage, a mortgage, or even Thanksgiving dinners, as the focus of your entire life narrows to the production, to exacting specifications, of a 300-page document less than a dozen people will read. Then it's time for advancement: Apply to 50 far-flung, undesirable locations, with a 30 to 40 percent chance of being offered any position at all. You may end up living 100 miles from your spouse and commuting to three different work locations a week. You may end up $50,000 in debt, with no health insurance, feeding your kids with food stamps. If you are the luckiest out of every five entrants, you may win the profession's ultimate prize: A comfortable middle-class job, for the rest of your life, with summers off. Welcome to the world of the humanities Ph.D. student, 2004, where promises mean little and revolt is in the air. ..."

    Or also: []
    "The average trajectory for a successful scientist is the following:
          1. age 18-22: paying high tuition fees at an undergraduate college
          2. age 22-30: graduate school, possibly with a bit of work, living on a stipend of $1800 per month
          3. age 30-35: working as a post-doc for $30,000 to $35,000 per year
          4. age 36-43: professor at a good, but not great, university for $65,000 per year
          5. age 44: with (if lucky) young children at home, fired by the university ("denied tenure" is the more polite term for the folks that universities discard), begins searching for a job in a market where employers primarily wish to hire folks in their early 30s
        This is how things are likely to go for the smartest kid you sat next to in college. He got into Stanford for graduate school. He got a postdoc at MIT. His experiment worked out and he was therefore fortunate to land a job at University of California, Irvine. But at the end of the day, his research wasn't quite interesting or topical enough that the university wanted to commit to paying him a salary for the rest of his life. He is now 44 years old, with a family to feed, and looking for job with a "second rate has-been" label on his forehead.
        Why then, does anyone think that science is a sufficiently good career that people should debate who is privileged enough to work at it? Sample bias. "

    For ways beyond that, see my online book:
    "Post-Scarcity Princeton, or, Reading between the lines of PAW for prospective Princeton students, or, the Health Risks of Heart Disease" []

    Or this book by Jeff Schmidt: []

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong