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Thursday, January 10, 2013

I Have the Least Stressful Job!!!

According to, I have the least stressful job of all jobs.1 Here's how it's reported in Forbes magazine by web staff writer Susan Adams: The Least Stressful Jobs Of 2013.
University professors have a lot less stress than most of us. Unless they teach summer school, they are off between May and September and they enjoy long breaks during the school year, including a month over Christmas and New Year’s and another chunk of time in the spring. Even when school is in session they don’t spend too many hours in the classroom. For tenure-track professors, there is some pressure to publish books and articles, but deadlines are few. Working conditions tend to be cozy and civilized and there are minimal travel demands, except perhaps a non-mandatory conference or two. As for compensation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for professors is $62,000, not a huge amount of money but enough to live on, especially in a university town.

Another boon for professors: Universities are expected to add 305,700 adjunct and tenure-track professors by 2020, according to the BLS. All of those attributes land university professor in the number one slot on’s list of the least stressful jobs of 2013. The ranking comes from an annual best and worst jobs list that began in 1995 under the auspices of the Wall Street Journal.
Ironically, this article comes out just as some of my colleagues are getting the bad news about their grant applications. Those who weren't funded face the end of their research career while they are still in their 40s. It also comes out at a time when two of my colleagues are starting to think about their applications for tenure. If they are unsuccessful, they will be out of a job in their late 30s with a family to support.

None of my colleagues took a month off at Christmas and I can assure you that all of my colleagues are here for almost the entire summer running a lab full of graduate students, post-docs, technicians, and summer students. The stress of running what amounts to a small business and getting papers published on things that nobody else has ever discovered is a lot more than most people could stand.

Read to the end of the Forbes article to see how the author responds to the many comments she received. The real problem here is that a prominent journalist could actually believe what she wrote in the first place!

I love the comment from Thomas Epps ...
Given your comment above indicating that you realize the source of your article was poor at best. I think you should consider retracting this article. I know that I would be severely sanctioned for writing this type of article with such questionable sourcing in my academic job. If the same is not the case in your job, then clearly your career is not a terribly stressful one. Maybe, "web staff writer" should be on the top of the "least-stressful jobs" list?

See ...
Do College Professors Have Less Stress?
Top 10 Reasons Being a University Professor is a Stressful Job
Before Professor comes Postdoc: Lower career rung, just as much job stress

1. I have no intention of supplying specific information about MY job but I'm happy to explain why every one of my younger colleagues is under a tremendous amount of stress every single day.


Bryan said...

I think some the blame also lies on the shoulders of the person who did the assessment for the rankings that she based her article on (not that she's excused - sole-sourcing is a sign of laziness), but the ranking included: growth potential, competitiveness, physical demands, hazards, environmental conditions

I'm new-ish faculty, and in my day-to-day work...

Growth potential: ever less grant $$$, ever more applicants. So...negative growth potential?

Competitiveness: cut-throat on a good day

Hazards: high powered lasers, high voltage sources, radiation sources, misc. highly toxic chemicals, asbestos in the walls, a whole array of home-brewed instruments I made that are far from CSA approved...and grad students. I swear some of them are natural disasters with legs.

Yeah, no stress or hazards there :(

DCoburn said...

Ah, but professors are just like professional welfare recipients right? It's not like they have to work for a living like the people with real jobs! I mean you just go to school all day and tinker around...

It's pretty clear this author hasn't the slightest idea what academia entails. I try to dispel the idea that academic life is easy every chance I get, but somehow this notion won't die. Even worse is attempting to explain the merits of basic versus applied research. "You mean your research won't directly produce a product/drug/method? What's the point then?"


Akshat said...

The biggest stressful job is police officer. are you agree or not? And are you finding the good jobs at a school?