Thursday, April 13, 2006

College professor is 2nd best job

You may have noticed that Money magazine rated college professor as the second best job to have in America.

It seems like a fair appraisal of what we do.

What's cool Professors have near-total flexibility in their schedules. Creative thinking is the coin of the realm. No dress code!

What's not The tick-tick-tick of the tenure clock; grading papers; salaries at the low end are indeed low.

It seems a bit overblown on the salary average -- over 81,000. Maybe if they average in all of those rich private schools with senior professors in medical and business schools, you can get that number. They do list top job as dean of 'medicine,' whose average pay is over 400,000.

MONEY Magazine's Best Jobs: College professor


Anonymous said...

It is indeed a good job being a prof., but all the aspiring profs. out there need to understand that the salaries are not only bad, they are getting worse. Today I attended the Chancellor's reception for those who have been at UW-Oshkosh for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 years etc. Every prof. in that room is making less now than they were at the same event five years ago, taking inflation into account. I don't mean to seem ungrateful, but getting a $3 event planner carrying case for 25 years of service and a group pat on the back is a bit of a letdown when your salary has gone down to boot.

Lake Winneblogo said...

Thanks for your comment.

I don't know what is was like 15, 20 or 25 years ago, but I would say we are clearly under more pressure than in the past. We have greater pressure to publish, less pay, and much less respect than professors once had.

My father always liked to say that I didn't realize the prestige that being a professor held and should be proud of my accomplishment.

It must be a generational thing. The legislators down in Madison don't think we are deserving of any respect. Pat Robertson and David Horowitz think the US would be better off without us.

The $3 organizer is just a nice example of how much people think of our contribution to society.

Janine said...

Your observations and complaints on increased stress, higher expectations in work, lower pay, and gifts from employers for long term employees are not limited to the university setting.

Many of us in the private sector also have those same complaints. We are being asked to do more work than ever before with lower pay. Many of us have had raises, but then with the rise in insurance premiums and cost of living the raises are not noticeable. Oftentimes our take-home income is less than it was the previous year (when cost of living increases and inflation are taken into consideration).

That was suppose to show you that you aren't in this pickle by yourself, however, I've managed to depress myself.cheer you up a bit, but I've managed to depress myself.

Anonymous said...

Janine- We in the public sector do recognize and acknowledge that you are being squeezed too. That's precisely why we should all think of ourselves as being in this together and that together we can solve these problems by supporting laws which reward work, give people a living wage, provide decent health care, don't tax the poor at a rate higher than the rich etc., etc.

But the point that I think Winneblogo is getting at and that I would very much agree with is that we professors are being scapegoated in this society right now, particularly by those who wish to drive a wedge between people like you and people like us, who are actually in the same boat and have the same interests in making sure that the middle class gets a fair shake and is not made an underclass. It used to be that professors were taken seriously in the design of public policy. But if people like Horowitz etc. effectively marginalize us by portraying us as yahoos then no one will take us and our efforts to help craft (hopefully more fair and just) policies seriously.

I'm sorry you are depressed that conditions are getting worse for workers in the U.S.--of all kinds. Me too.

Lammers said...

All I know is that I am making more money now than I ever have in my life, even adjusted for inflation. I worked in collections and research for nine years at a major metropolitan natural history museum and took a NICE pay raise to come here as an entry-level assistant prof (while simultaneously cutting my cost of living and stress level in half). I have stimulating enjoyable colleagues, great students, and work I love. Maybe the glass looks half empty to you, but I'm not complaining. You can't do a lot about the attitudes and actions of other people; all you can change are your own. In other words, most foilks are about as happy as they decide to be.

Anonymous said...

I agree that a positive attitude can take you a long way! And certainly there are many wonderful things about working at the university. However, it's also important to value yourself, your skills and your services. If we want to retain quality faculty and staff members, the university needs to acknowledge and support excellence. This can mean monetary compensation, but it can also mean taking pains to sincerely thank employees for a job well done. This week was Student Employee Appreciation Week, as declared by our Chancellor. Some departments put a lot of work into honoring the work of their student employees (certainly with more than just a gift of a $3 planner). I would argue that VERY few of these students have 5 (and I hope not for their sake), 10, 15, or 25 years of service. If we don't respect ourselves, and value ourselves, who else is going to "toot our horn"?

lammers said...

It is true that sincere thanks from the administration is much appreciated. I attended my 5-year recognition soiree, and I appreciated the thought. I still use the little notebook deal, to take notes at meetings. For me, simply gathering everyone together like that and saying "thank-you" was sufficient. "It's the thought that counts." As for my student employees, I take them out to a nice lunch each year at this time, and get them a bookstore gift card at Christmas. It's not much, but it let's them know I value what they do.

FWIW, I've always felt the administration is pretty much on "our side" and see things largely as we see them. They place no *really* onerous burdens on us, and some things we have, such as Faculty Development grants, are a real plum. I'm sure that if the legislature would provide the $, our administration would spend like sailors on shore leave to give us what we need and deserve.

You know what really means even more to me? The *students* who thank me. One young lady left me a little bag of home-baked cookies and a nice card to thank me for a med school recommendation letter. An advisee sent a nice card to my home just to thank me for caring and being a positive influence. Out of the numbers we interact with, it's admittedly a very small minority who say thanks, but those who do mean a lot.

I've worked at a place where an administrator I'd cheesed off was actively working to make my life miserable and run me out, despite positive feelings about me from everyone else. So you'll forgive me if I seem a bit pollyanna in my view of *this* place. It's heaven-on-earth by comparison.

zippy said...

Of course I forgive Tom Lammers for being pollyanish about skin off my nose, of course, and it is great to have people like him around with positive attitudes. But the reality is that our students are paying far more in tuition than they did 10 years ago when I started as a prof. without a corresponding increase in financial aid; class sizes have risen noticeably, at least in my field; professors have taken an effective paycut when inflation is factored in; and we are relying ever more heavily on academic staffers who make a fraction of what people like Tom make. While I have plenty in my life to be happy about, the current trends at this University are not among them.

Tom may be making more than he ever did, but he must be supplementing his income through consulting work. That's fine, but he should also recognize that no one consults professors about 19th century poetry, or existential philosophy, or Russian history. The professors who do these things aren't able to supplement their flagging incomes with outside projects. This is particularly unfortunate for our overworked academic staffers. So again, I can forgive Tom Lammers for his being pollyanish, but that word, pollyanish is appropriate, because it means being unwarrantedly positive about something and it seems to me he is looking past the larger trends that are very troubling.

lammers said...

No, sir. My sole income is my UWO paycheck. (It's more an indicator of how *poorly* paid I was at my last job than a testimonial to how well paid we are here.)

Everything you say is true. The high cost of a college education is especially troublesome. I think the state has a vested interest in an educated populace, and should devote sufficient resources in that direction. But beyond writing my representatives (on my own time with no state resources) and voting my conscience, I can't do much about those things. So I try not to let them drag me down.

Anonymous said...

It depends upon 2 items:
1) Discipline. Applied fields like business, law & engineering do quite well.

2) Publication. In my experience most professors that complain about their pay also fail to do good research. They publish in "B" or "C" journals that nobody reads and have 80% acceptance rates. Mostly at “teaching schools” publication is done just to maintain accreditation. Basically they are lazy scholars & deserve low pay.