Professor Stress

CNBC.com posted a list of 10 least stressful jobs for 2013, and topping the list is “University Professor” with this laughable analysis:

And the winner of Least Stressful Job of 2013 is … university professor!

(Cue the commencement music.)

Professor is a newcomer to the list this year, and it shot straight to the top.

“If you look at the criteria for stressful jobs, things like working under deadlines, physical demands of the job, environmental conditions hazards, is your life at risk, are you responsible for the life of someone else, they rank like ‘zero’ on pretty much all of them!” Lee said.

Plus, they’re in total control. They teach as many classes as they want and what they want to teach. They tell the students what to do and reign over the classroom. They are the managers of their own stress level.

The most stressful thing about being a professor?

“Interacting with other professors!” Lee said.

The Lee being quoted is Tony Lee of CareerCast.com. The most absurd statement above is about the lack of deadlines. My life as a professor is spent swimming in a sea of deadlines. I have also yet to meet a professor who teaches “as many classes as they want,” and they certainly don’t get to teach “what they want to teach.” Some professors, myself included, actually do like to teach, so that is a plus. But professors are told what they must teach. I may be in the minority of professors in the next category, but I am far from alone: we have significant environmental hazards in our laboratories and we are in fact responsible for the lives of those who work there. Serious accidents are a real threat. I am also responsible for securing funding for people in my research group so that they may stay gainfully employed and, in the case of graduate students, complete their studies. Now, I love my job and wouldn’t trade it for any other. But the one thing I don’t like about it is how stressful it is. For a more extensive rebuttal of the argument, see this blog post.

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