The ranking was "based on five criteria — environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands and stress," so I guess there’s some combination in there that makes Librarian better than Forklift Operator (67) and Optician (88). Actually, in those cases, it was probably the income, which is lower for opticians than for Librarians. Opticians don’t make much more money than Forklift Operators, which I didn’t know. In fact, I don’t think I know any opticians or forklift operators, but I don’t know a lot of people.
The pay was surprising on some. Librarians apparently make about the same as Hotel Managers (75), though managing a hotel seems like a lot more work to be than being a librarian. Teachers (116) are paid only slightly less than librarians, but obviously have worse jobs. I’m sure they have worse jobs than me, because spending all day in a room with irrational children would probably resemble being in a permanent management retreat.
Railroad Conductor (123) pays about the same as librarian as well, but I don’t know why it would be so poorly ranked. It’s probably more stressful. Where I Iive , if the train doesn’t run on time, there are a lot more irate people than if the library doesn’t run on time. And they probably don’t get to spend all day surfing the Internet reading blogs like librarians do.
I was surprised Highway Patrol Officers (175) make about the same as librarians, but not about the ranking. The pay doesn’t quite seem fair, since it’s virtually impossible for a librarian to get killed in the line of duty. Imagine the stress of wondering if every person walking up to the reference desk might shoot you. From what I read, the overtime and pension benefits are better, but still.
Dentists (97) make a lot more than librarians, but it seems clear to me why they’re ranked lower. I find it hard to imagine being happy in a job where I have to stick my fingers into some stranger’s mouth. Add in all the clown paintings around the office and it’s just too much. Surgeons rake in the dough, but I have a pretty good idea why they rank only 136. It’s sort of the opposite stress of highway patrolman, I’m sure. What if every time a cataloger messed up a call #, a patron died? I don’t know what makes catalogers so exacting, but it isn’t that.
In the top 30 are a number of occupations with which I’m very familiar – Biologist (4), Historian (5), Philosopher (11), Sociologist (21), Economist (26). No surprise there why they rank more highly than librarian. Though I was puzzled about Parole Officer (29) and Medical Laboratory Technician (37). Could it really be that much better to be a parole officer? And how great could it be to be a Stenographer/Court Reporter (22)? And how could Bookkeeper (24) possibly be a better job than Astronomer (25), especially given the relative pay? Less night work, maybe.
It’s a truism that we envy those just above us in a hierarchy rather than those at the very top. The folks at the top are so distant we can never attain their greatness (unless, like the Annoyed Librarian, one actually is at the top, but obviously I’m an exception). Thus, we might think it’s hunky-dory to be a librarian at 46, but how much better it must be to be a Market Research Analyst (45)! This envy of those just above us must explain all the marketing language some librarians want to adopt. The difference is that market research analysts analyze market research, while librarians make posters and put announcements on their websites.
And if market research analyst is better, imagine the joys of being a Purchasing Agent (40)! What interesting work that must be, though it sounds an awful lot like Buyer (158). The title alone conjures up glorious images, though perhaps not as glorious as the next job, Insurance Underwriter (39)! Golly.
When you get low down the list, it’s pretty clear why being a librarian isn’t such a bad gig. I certainly wouldn’t want to be a Construction Worker (193) or a Roustabout (200). I would also hate to be a Stationary Engineer (176). All that not moving must get old after a while.
Lists like this let us put things in perspective and give us all something to be thankful for. Being a librarian can be boring sometimes, and for some very unremunerative , but think how much worse it could be. Maybe being a librarian isn’t as great as being a parole officer or an insurance underwriter, but it has to be better than being a Butcher (190) or a Garbage Collector (195).
As library schools go out recruiting and the ALA sings it’s sunny tunes about the glories of librarianship, they should make something like this the official slogan of the profession: