Friday, January 9, 2009

Author Ranked 93rd in Top Jobs List

Earlier this week, posted their list of the top 200 jobs in America. In case you're wondering what you're doing with your life, if you've chosen the right path, you can relax. Author ranked 93rd in the top 200 list. According to the survey, an author is defined as: "Creates fiction and non-fiction books, either on assignment from editors, or independently."

Among other writing/publising related jobs, Publication Editor ranked 31, Technical Writer ranked 60, Bookbinder ranked 83rd, and Newspaper Reporter ranked 140. Agent's didn't make this list - which either means it's not a job they considered in the ranking, or all you agents should give up your day jobs to become lumberjacks (rank 200), or dairy farmers (rank 199)! ~g~

Careercast looked at five major categories in order to rank jobs: stress levels, physical demands, hiring outlook (guess they haven't seen the stats on recent book sales!), compensation, and work environment.

Here's a comparison of the results for jobs #1 (mathemetician), # 93 (author), and #200 (lumberjack - it's okay - I know you'll have that song stuck in your head all day!).

Rankings are great, but sometimes it's helpful to understand what they really mean. I mean, who says being an author is the 93rd greatest job in America? How do they know?

Here's the breakdown of the factors that went into the overall ranking:

  • Work Environment: A combination of the physical work environment and the emotional work environment. The scoring considered factors such as the energy requirement, physical demands, work conditions (fumes - do ink catridges count?, noise - the thrum, thrum of the printer?), stamina required, degree of confinement (this must be where authors start to fall off!), degree of competitiveness, personal hazards, and public contact. The raw score is then adjusted by the average number of hours worked per week. This higher the score, the worse the rank.
  • Income: The explanation of the income ranking is an eye-crosser, even to my number-loving heart. Suffice it to say, it takes into account both mid-level incomes and growth potential.
  • Outlook: This figure doesn't appear in the summary data, but does influence the overall ranking. Higher scores are awarded to jobs with promising futures. Factors such as unemployment rates, employment growth, potential salary growth, and potential for promotion are considered.
  • Physical Demands: Considers factors as how much weight a person is normally required to lift on the job (and those reams of paper do get heavy!) - and then jobs are categorized into five groups: (1) sedentary work; (2) light work; (3) medium work; (4) heavy work; (5) very heavy work. Factors such as whether a job is indoors or outdoors, and whether it involved stooping, kneeling, climbing or balancing are also considered. The higher the score, the greater the physical demands.
  • Stress: To measure stress, the survey looked at the typical demands and crises inherent in a job. A high score was awarded if a particular demand was a major part of the job. According to Career Cast: "Journalists, who often face daily deadlines, received the maximum of 9 points in this category." A partial list of factors considered include quotas, deadlines, working in the public eye, competitiveness, life of another a risk (do you think fictional characters count?), initiative required, outdoor work, confinement, and meeting the public.

If you have a day job, how does it rank compared to author? I'd love to know!

For me, I have piecemeal days! For part of the week I work as a Medical Plan Data Analyst (don't ask). Of the jobs on the list, this may be closest to statistician, or some sort of mathematician, which generally ranked high. For part of my week, I do web and blog development. Web developer ranked 23rd. Mother didn't appear on the list (probably due to the low compensation and high work-stress environment)!

How does your day job compare? Or if you're a full-time author, do you think the ranking accurately reflects your experience? Share your thoughts.