Saturday, January 22, 2011

Best Careers for 2011

Even though they’re totally subjective and meaningless, I still read those “Best Careers” articles on the off chance that I’ll have a career epiphany: “Astronomer! OMG, why have I never thought of this before?!” Both U.S. News & World Report and CareerCast (via the Wall Street Journal) recently released their lists of the Best Careers for 2011.  Having read both, I’m just as confused and directionless as I was before, if not more so.

Here are the careers that made it onto both lists:

  • Accountant
  • Actuary
  • Financial Advisor
  • Film Editor
  • Technical Writer
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Medical Lab Technician
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Optometrist
  • Physical Therapist
  • Court Reporter
  • Civil Engineer
  • Computer Software Engineer
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Meteorologist

The big winners seem to be math, science, and technology – no surprises there.

Technical Writer did make it onto both lists, so apparently writing can be a wise career choice if you limit yourself to only the most boring subjects.  I wonder if it’s possible to combine technical writing and humor writing.  “Warning: Young children should not be left unsupervised with the juicer.  They’re lousy at making juice.  Also, do not touch the sharp blade.  Unless you have a hangnail that needs trimming, in which case, proceed with caution.”  Seriously, if user manuals were more entertaining, people might actually read them, and the world would be a safer place.

Overall, there were very few creative careers on either list.  In fact, the U.S. News list was so short on creative careers that they had to combine them with service careers into a single category called “Creative and Service.”  Personally, I found it bizarre that Curator and Multimedia Artist were in the same category as Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Technician.

Because their categories confused me, I decided to make up my own categories.  First, I created a category called “It Takes a Better Person Than Me,” which included Firefighter, Registered Nurse, and Special Education Teacher.  These are certainly noble professions, but they’re not for everyone.  You really have to like people and want to help them.

The U.S. News list included the job "Meeting Planner," as in someone who "manages all facets of meeting preparation."  This compelled me to create a special category called “Seriously, That’s a Career?”  (Not only is it a career, apparently it’s one of the best ones you can have!)

Most of the list falls into one giant category that I call “Fundamentally Flawed.”  Now, before anyone gets offended, let me preface by saying that I’m sure that there are people out there who are happy and successful at all of these careers (and good for you!), but a) you’re not my target blog audience and b) I have a special gift for finding the downside of a particular career, so you shouldn’t take it personally.

Glancing down the list of best careers, it only took me a few seconds to dismiss most of them...

Massage Therapist: Yeah, um, kneading, rubbing, and stroking someone else’s flesh does not sound appealing to me.  I can’t help but picture a client covered in back hair.

Marriage Therapist: Ugh, I hate being around couples when they’re fighting.  My stress level spikes just thinking about it.  My response to everything would be, “Oh my God, just get divorced already!”

Computer Support Specialist: I can’t imagine anything more frustrating than assisting a technologically impaired individual over the phone.  Last month, my mother spent seven consecutive hours on the phone with a computer support specialist who tried (and failed) to get her wireless printer set up.  I suspect that at this very moment, that guy is on a park bench somewhere, drinking out of a brown paper bag, still traumatized by the whole ordeal.

After eliminating all of the best careers, I read the online article comments.  The rampant spelling mistakes made me feel smart, and the bickering was entertaining.  My favorite comments were the bitter Executive Assistant who insisted that her job was “the worst” and couldn’t understand why it didn’t make the “Best Careers” list; the all-out brawl between the Bricklayer and the Chemical Engineer; the Locomotive Engineer who bragged that he gets to "ring the bell and blow the whistle"; and the heated debate on the merits of Philosophy, sparked by #16 on the CareerCast “Best Careers” list: Philosopher.  Here is just a small sampling from that debate...

“Philosopher. LOL.”
“Only in America is "philosopher" a joke. No wonder this country is going down.”
“You all can try to defend your philosphy [sic] and some of these other career choices and I will be glad to get my fries from you next time I go thought [sic] the drive thru.”
“No, it's a good gig! I coalesce the vapors of human existence into a viable and logical comprehension!”
“Philosophers? No way. Sure, I mean, they are super smart and in their dangerous, sexy way, the most daring and intense people imaginable. But are we really to believe that their job ranks above hedge trimmers? Really?”

It’s actually quite refreshing to see people who are so passionate about their career choice.  I can only hope that, someday, I too will love my career enough to post an insulting comment.

No comments:

Post a Comment