Paul L. Caron

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Least Stressful Job in America: Professor

Inside Higher Ed:  Least Stressful Job? Really?:

A "study" by CareerCast (a job portal site) and a resulting article in Forbes -- both asserting that college professor is the least stressful job in America -- have created considerable faculty stress (and anger) in the last few days. ...

"University professors have a lot less stress than most of us," said the article. "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."

That sort of analysis prompted a flood of comments to Forbes, with professors pointing out their deadlines, their summer teaching schedules, the reality that faculty members who teach at community colleges or off the tenure track face numerous challenges apparently unknown to Forbes, and professors' lack of the sort of Mr. Chips life that the magazine apparently believes still exists. ... The latest rejoinder -- an article called "Top 10 Reasons Being a University Professor Is a Stressful Job" -- appears in Forbes.

(Hat Tip: Greg McNeal.)

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I taught tax as an adjunct at a NYC Graduate Business School for 12 years. (I know it's not a law school but it's comparable.) I was brought in because I knew the dean, a former vice-chairman at what, after mergers was one of the Big 4. At one point, he urged me to apply for multi-year, full-time contract (not tenure track).

I said I was concerned I couldn't handle my own tax practice and teach three courses. He laughed. He said all of the professors thought they were working like dogs. However, he felt teaching demands were fairly light for anyone who had worked at a Big 4 or law firm, and I would easily be able to handle teaching and my practice.

He said all the stress was caused by dealing with faculty egos and meetings. After a few conversations and attending a few faculty meetings, being an adjunct seemed just fine. For what it's worth.

Posted by: air65cav | Jan 7, 2013 1:56:38 PM