Wednesday, January 06, 2010

It was the best of jobs, it was the worst of jobs, 2010 edition

"Tis (apparently) the season when CareerCast publishes Len Krantz's annual roundup of the best and worst jobs for 2010. I thought the topic looked familiar, so I went to the Pink Slip wayback machine and found a post from last year on this very topic. (What I wrote last year still holds.)

Just in case you're exploring career options, here  are the besties, based on environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands and stress.

1. Actuary
2. Software Engineer
3. Computer Systems Analyst
4. Biologist
5. Historian
6. Mathematician
7. Paralegal Assistant
8. Statistician
9. Accountant
10. Dental Hygienist
11. Philosopher
12. Meteorologist
13. Technical Writer
14. Bank Officer
15. Web Developer
16. Industrial Engineer
17. Financial Planner
18. Aerospace Engineer
19. Pharmacist
20. Medical Records Technician

Not all that much has changed in the past year. Oh, economist has fallen out of the Top 20, which is no great surprise. If ever there were an abysmal year for the dismal science, this would be it.

Actuary remains number one. (Why does this make me flash on the image bunch of guys in white shirts and short hair, standing outside their cubicles waving big foam fingers and chanting "We're number 1! We're number 1!")

And I see that Tech Writer - a job that I would actually be qualified to do - is now on the list.

It's not the only one I could handle, however. Depending on the formal qualifications, what is this blogger if not someone who:

Studies questions concerning the nature of intellectual concepts, and attempts to construct rational theories concerning our understanding of the world around us.

So, I could (kinda/sorta) be a philosopher.

As I did last year, I still question its presence in the Top 20.

I can accept that the work environment, physical demands, stress level - I think Socrates was the last philosopher killed on the job, and he did himself in - and pay level ($60K or so) are all decent. But just how can the employment outlook be "Very Good."

I can't remember the last time I saw a sign that said, "Help Wanted. Philosopher. Apply Within."

Since I am something of a philosopher, I made an attempt to construct a rational theory concerning my understanding of this little corner of the world around us. I did this to sate my own curiosity, as well as to help provide those parents whose philosophy major offspring are asking them to fund a $50 per annum college tab, using this employment report as evidence that philosophy has practical merit, with the ammunition they need to push back. (Not that there's anything wrong with being a philosophy major, if you're doing your studying at a Top 20 college, and  can afford to head right on to business or law school once you've gotten your sheepskin.)

I made my attempt at rational theory construction by clicking on the "Find this job" button, which brought me to a list of jobs for philosopher.

Low and behold, the only job that really seemed to be at all related to being a philosopher was an adjunct teaching position for a Philosophy Social Sciences Instructor at Western Career College for its Emeryville, California campus.

At Western, I will wager, there are few massage therapy, medical assisting, or criminal justice majors who really want to sit around contemplating Plato's navel. Instead, I suspect, they're ticking off a General Ed requirement, and hoping for a complete gut. Not, I'd say, the ideal setting for a philosopher. Perhaps even a stressful setting, given that a criminal justice major just might consider such a GE course a complete crock.

Nonetheless, knowing something about Philosophy Social Sciences (whatever that means in combo: a+b, a or b, ab...) is at least a requirement for this job.

The other thousand or so jobs that came up for philosophy seemed to be those that have "philosophy" in the company's description. (As in "our company's philosophy is customer-first....")

Could this be why the outlook for philosophers is so strong?

Perhaps I am mistaken here, and there is actually strong demand for philosophers. But, if I were a betting blogger, I'd bet that the methodology that assigned a positive employment outlook for philosophers was less than rigorous.

I saw the CareerCast list mentioned in a Sarah Needleman column in the WSJ.

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