Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

There Are Worse Jobs, It Seems

Some website that seems to exist only to make lists of jobs has once again made a list of the “top 200 jobs” in the U.S. Librarian somehow made the list yet again, at #88. Here’s the profile:

 88. Librarian

Selects and organizes materials to make information available to the public.

Overall Score: 571.00

Income: $55,158.00

Work Environment: 49.000

Stress: 10.000

Hiring Outlook: 3.58

It’s not that I’m ever surprised that Librarian makes lists like this. I’m always more surprised by how low Librarian ranks, and what ranks above it. For example, Sewage Plant Operator is the 87th job on the list, with a supposedly higher scoring work environment, but about $30,000 less in income. The only thing that makes sense is that the “hiring outlook” is a lot better, but how could that possibly make it a better job?

Paralegal assistant is at #41. Could being a paralegal assistant be twice as good as being a librarian? That’s crazy!

Hair Stylist makes the list at 83. How could that be a better job than Librarian? Also, given how much my stylist charges, how could they make just $23,000 a year? Baffling.

It’s not baffling why university professor ranks so high at 14. Based on what I can tell, there are only about 14 actual university professors left in the country now that they’ve all been replaced with adjuncts. So the exclusivity alone is enough to get the ranking.

But then Historian, Astronomer, Anthropologist, Sociologist and some other ists are on the list. I know there are such people who aren’t university professors, but what if you’re an Anthropologist (at #92) and a University Professor? This list is probably going to cause you a lot of grief trying to figure out how its sophisticated methodology puts you at two different places at the same time. People will lose sleep over an important list like this.

At least there are some jobs worse than Librarian, so we can engage in some schadenfreude. Attorney and Ironworker – #117 and #118 respectively –  are worse. Economist at  #120, definitely worse, unless the economist is a university professor and then we just can’t know. Academic economists would probably take the mean and say they were #56, tying them with Archeologist. That’s a much cooler field, anyway. After all, have they ever made an action movie about an economist?

The worst job on the list is Newspaper Reporter. That’s probably because of the Negative 10 hiring outlook. Even Lumberjack is better than Reporter, but that’s probably because they get to dress up in flannel and sing songs about their dear mama.

You might think, as I did at first, that they’re not ranking the jobs as such and saying one is better than another. One is just topper than another in some sense. But according to the website,

From the outset, the Jobs Rated report has generated a lot of attention primarily because most Americans spend more time on the job than they do on anything else, and knowing how their job ranks against other jobs is compelling information.

So we’re supposed to look at this list and think, oh, if only I could become an Actuary (#1, #1, #1!) or a Dental Hygienist (#6), then I would have a job that ranks much higher than mine based on some arbitrary standard. And wouldn’t that be lovely. What else might it mean to rank your job against other jobs.

And if that’s what we’re supposed to do, what difference would hiring outlook make, which is what seems to make Sewage Plant Operator a better job than Librarian? Once I have a job, what do I care what the hiring outlook is for something in a completely different field?

The other baffling news is that “The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates the average employee spends more than two-thirds of his or her day at work or on work-related activities. That’s more time than we spend sleeping or raising our children.”

Does that mean two-thirds of a 24-hour day, as in 16 hours? Or is it two-thirds of the 16-18 hours most of us are awake? Regardless, it’s still way too much time. If you’re spending up to 12 hours a day working, you should probably find another job.

 Like Librarian.



  1. I am currently earning my MLIS. If I were to accept all the negative information about what a bad deal the degree and career are I would have to assume I am simply stupid. Fortunately, being someone with a bit of life experience I understand the more esoteric benefits of this career choice. I am also fortunate in that I fell into the career path by way of being hired as the circulation manager of a law library at a law school due to my paralegal background.
    As a paralegal I made less than I do as a circulation manager, I was regularly putting in an average of 45 to 50 hours a week, and the job was highly stressful. I believe you pointing out in one of your earlier blog posting it is one of those jobs where if you do something wrong it can have grave consequences. This is true as failure to discover all you can about the facts of a case or file a motion properly might cost the firm’s client a tremendous amount of money.

    My current position puts me in the lower ten percent of pay for “librarian” jobs, as I am considered a paraprofessional. However, I am learning valuable customer service, technical, and managerial skills. Add to that I am also gaining significant experience in how a specialty library operates. Once I earn my MLIS I can potentially double my current pay. While that still only places me in the median range of a librarian salary my job is extremely low stress the majority of the time. That low stress factor is priceless! Oh and I can spend more time with my family as I am not putting in 50 hour workweeks. I enjoy the people I work with and helping our law students.

    Yea, there are other jobs that require master’s degrees that will make you the big bucks. Good for them. Quality of life has its own reward and if you are making all that money but never have time to enjoy it, what is the point?


    Kim Allman
    Law Library Access Services Manager (a fancy term for Circulation Manager) Charlotte School of Law

    P.S. Loved the Monty Python reference

    • Lori Reed says:

      No matter what others consider you, I would challenge you to consider yourself a library professional rather than the p-word. I cringe when I hear that word. Best of luck to you!

  2. Thanks for the information. I have a question for you regarding librarian resumes. I’m currently working on my MLS and will soon be applying for positions. I’ve been in the work force for 15 years and only 2 of those years in a library setting. Do I need to include EVERY job on my resume? Do libraries really care if I worked at the mall when I was 18? IF I put everything down my resume will be way too long and will probably go straight in the trash bin.

    • ….and you want to be a librarian?

    • working at the mall is a customer service position of the first order. you should definitely include it on your resume.

    • Librarian in Texas says:

      Talk to an HR person who works for a library. Compile your resume with all the job skills you have. Retail and handling money are great experiences if you work with Customers and collect fines and fees. The mall has a very similar demographic as your public library. How did you handle returns/exchanges after Christmas and when someone “lost” their gift receipt? You have conflict management experience, which if you work with the public and manage at least one employee will be beneficial. Don’t discount any experience you have gain, it will come into play somewhere in your career!

  3. Well, both the sewage plant operator and the librarian work with the public … just from different ends (and sometimes the end which librarians work with acts like the wrong end).

  4. How does hiring outlook make a job better? Job security for one, and if you’re in a terrible position, you won’t have as much trouble finding something else. Also, employers might treat you with more respect if they know you can easily find another job in the field. (I’m guessing that’s also a big reason the work environment for Sewage Plant Operators is better than the work environment for librarians.). I think the biggest problem librarians face is administrators and other stakeholders who don’t understand what a librarian is and therefore treat them as worthless. I’m thinking there’s not a whole lot of confusion about what Sewage Plant Operators offer the public.

    These lists may seem pointless to someone who has already found a career, but I think part of the reason we’re seeing so many unemployed and underemployed college grads and so many employers complaining about skill gaps is that no one is making it clear to kids that it doesn’t matter how smart you are, or how responsible you are, or what college you went to when it comes to getting a job. What matters is training in fields employers are looking for. The millennials grew up being told “you can be anything you want to be” not “study something that will lead to a job”.

    • One oh-so-minor correction:
      “…it doesn’t matter how smart you are, or how responsible you are, or what college you went to when it comes to getting a job. What matters is A. training in fields employers are looking for and B. having the right connections.”

      Or, as my grandmother puts it: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

  5. Development Arrested says:

    “Paralegal assistant is at #41. Could being a paralegal assistant be twice as good as being a librarian? That’s crazy!”

    Two things: 1) Is a paralegal assistant the assistant of an assistant? That’s what it seems like to me.

    These lists are absurd. Do what you like and take steps along the way to make yourself more employable. There was a point in my life when I was choosing between an MLS , and I ultimately chose a degree with a higher job outlook and that has the potential to pay me an amount that reflects that I went graduate school Seriously, I was told that I would be making the same amount as a first year teacher after getting my MLS according to a director of a medium sized library in a college town that I interviewed.

    I realized that I just liked working with people and that there are other career paths out there where I can help people. And in some of them I can help people without other people coming up and complaining that I am distracting them from their Facebook game. So, if it’s not evident, I was already burnt out of being a librarian before ever becoming one. I made the right choice.

    • Development Arrested says:

      Oh and now I have to watch the lumberjack song. Thanks a lot, Annoyed Librarian!

  6. I definitely chose to leave the library field after getting my MSLIS and spending several years working in libraries. There were many, many other things I could do with that degree if I marketed myself creatively. The field felt like an implosion to me and the upward mobility and opportunities for advancing the field were slim. I still like to follow the industry, though – at my heart, I still enjoy the principles of librarianship.

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