Job Quest

Americans At WorkYou’re out of work, out of luck, out in general. Your job has disappeared. What do you do? Acquire new skills? What skills? Below is a partial list of 200 jobs rated according to desirable workplace, wages, stress, danger, etc.  The top 20 jobs are rated the best and the bottom 20 are occupations rated the worst.

    THE BEST 20____________________________________THE WORST 20

  1. 1. Mathematician________________________________200. Lumberjack
    2. Actuary_____________________________________199. Dairy Farmer
    3. Statistician___________________________________198. Taxi Driver
    4. Biologist____________________________________ 197. Seaman
    5. Software Engineer_____________________________196. EMT
    6. Computer Systems Analyst_______________________195. Roofer
    7. Historian____________________________________194. Garbageman
    8. Sociologist___________________________________193. Welder
    9. Industrial Designer____________________________192. Roustabout (oil driller)
    10. Accountant_________________________________191. Ironworker
    11. Economist__________________________________190. Construction Worker
    12. Philosopher_________________________________189. Mail Carrier
    13. Physicist___________________________________188. Sheet Metal Worker
    14. Parole Officer_______________________________187. Auto Mechanic
    15. Meteorologist________________________________186. Butcher
    16. Medical Lab Tech_________________________185.Nuclear Decontamination Tech
    17. Paralegal Assistant____________________________184. Nurse (LN)
    18. Computer Programmer_________________________183. Painter (house)
    19. Motion Picture Editor__________________________182. Child Care Worker
    20. Astronomer_________________________________181. Firefighter

—So the best job to have in 2011 is being a mathematician. Not a rock ‘n roll star or a secret agent or even a NFL quarterback. It’s a mathematician. Depending on your definition, mathematicians number from 3160 to around 100,000. Counting mathematicians seems to be a problem. The Bureau of Labor puts the number of Ph’d holding mathematicians working as mathematicians at about 3200. As a comparison, machinists working as machinists number 420,000. Mathematics as a work venue is not going to solve the unemployment problem.
—-What’s scary is the No. 2 job of 2011 (2010’s No.1 job). It’s an actuary. What is an actuary? Most think an actuary works in mortuary…with the deceased. No, nothing that exciting. Traditionally they work for insurance companies using statistics (math again) to figure out the chances of you being in a car accident or hit by a meteorite during sex or being shot by your baby sitter, etc. They work their magic in air-conditioned cubicles/offices bathed in flourescent light and radiation from a computer screens all day. Labor Bureau puts the number of licensed actuaries at about 20,000. As a comparison, between 1990 and 2005 the US lost 5.9 million manufacturing jobs. Everyone becoming an actuary is not going to do it.
—-This is the same with most of the top 20 jobs on this list. Many of these occupations need applicants with a Ph.D. to even be considered hireable. They usually receive decent middle class salaries. Actuaries start at $40,000 to $50,000. For comparison a LAPD officer with a high school degree has a starting base salary of $45, 226.
—-Outraged, you must want to know who the hell figured out this list? Les Krantz, the author of “Jobs Rated Almanac” put it together. He based his findings on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau, trade associations and his own expertise. Here is the criteria.

  1. Good jobs typically have a favorable workplace — indoors offices in skyscrapers, large anonymous office buildings in industrial parks (no pesky UV rays or bothering with sunscreen lotion like a life guard).
  2. Free of toxic fumes (no particulate filled fresh air, a slight problem with radioactive radon gas emanating from modern indoor building materials though)
  3. Little or no loud noise (just a mind numbing air conditioner drone, occasional telephone chortle, background co-worker babble)
  4. No heavy lifting or crawling or crouching or any strenuous physical effort. (Would this include stress tests for cardio-vascular disease due to a sedentary lifestyle?)
  5. Pay in general is higher. Mathematicians pull in an average of $94,134. (Remember, many of the 3200 math majors have large college loans to pay off.)

—-Low stress work environment is important. (Other stress free environments include being over-medicated in a Mental Hospital, Lutheran Churches, graveyards.) I was shocked to see Motion Picture Editor in here. This is something I do. Nutty deadlines, screaming Producers, recalcitrant Directors, working in a dark room 12/14 hours a day. Stress free? No way, Les.)

—-A safe work environment is important. Little risk of dismemberment or death or excitement. Think of a war-zone journalist as the Anti-Christ. Unless a disgruntled employee returns with an automatic gun and takes out a couple dozen co-workers. Or your workplace is in say…New York City or Oklahoma City when a crazed ethnic/religious/political group decides to take it out.

—-Job outlook. Ask yourself, “Is this an occupation that is growing in numbers and opportunity?” I hope so. After spending 4/10 years studying something that would bore most to tears, there better be a job out there. A friend who graduated with a degree in German Philology found there were few medieval German documents left to study. No one in the German Philology Department had bothered to mention this. He went into writing software.

—-The choice of the top 3 jobs, mathematician, actuary and statistician, is a little odd. Since Mr. Krantz uses math, statistics and various actuary tables in his work, I wonder if this influenced his choice of those occupations as the best? Of course not, that would be wrong, prejudiced, downright evil. Maybe he just hates lumberjacks? Some childhood event that includes a chainsaw?

—-Among things that bother me about this best/worst list are the fact that I grew up with many occupations on the bottom 20 worst jobs side. The fireman, the butcher, Paul Bunyan the lumberjack, the nuclear decontamination tech (watched too many irradiated creature features). These jobs were offered up as archetypal in our school books.”See Spot. See Spot run. See Spot bite the software engineer. Good Spot, good.”

—Another oddball thing is that many of the worst list occupations have their own reality shows. Most of the best list

Bankers & Brokers

Bankers & Brokers

don’t. Economists, philosophers, historians are interviewed on PBS and other news programs. They just don’t have weird, fun reality shows. Even coal miners and repo men have their own shows. Who checks in on the “Exciting and Dangerous World of the Medical Lab Technician.” except the infectious disease freaks? Safe mind-numbing tedium does not make for good TV.

—-So what are the rest of us going to do? We can’t all be real estate agents. Our educational system isn’t designed to pump out Ph’ds. Just the opposite. It’s designed to limit them. Keep the new crop legitimate, pay scales high, etc. You don’t want a bunch of yahoos designing Boeing’s new airliner do ya’? Or installing your heart valve? What about green jobs? Ten dollar an hour installer jobs? Which is about all most of us would be qualified to do. Let’s face it, green jobs are a politician’s log line. Sorry, it ain’t going to do it. Everyone was looking out for themselves and ignoring the big picture. Greed, one of the seven deadly sins, took over. The marketplace is just that. It is a place to buy and sell. If left alone it does it’s job. But it doesn’t have a conscience. It doesn’t care about me or my family. When the system is gamed to help one group over another, like it is now, what do you do? The paradigm has changed. And changed forever. Those manufacturing jobs that so many did won’t be coming back. Brush up on your low-pay retailing skills.
—-No more milkmen to kick around. Mr. Krantz is right on one thing, many jobs on the worst list are disappearing. My own film industry is on the wain right now due to content pirating. Bigger spaces of under employment between paying jobs lets me explore venues like blogging, knocking off AM/PM markets and pursuing internet consumer survey – mystery shopping offers. Spying on sales personnel at a major department store is incredibly satisfying. I feel like James Bond. Do I look back with regret? I could always have been an actuary.


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