CNN published yesterday its new ranking of jobs. And, lo and behold!, they rank college professors at #2. The secret is now out, so I’m glad I got my teaching post before everyone and their offspring realized that teaching is the second greatest thing there is.
CNN’s got some things right here. Especially the part about flexible schedules, the joy of creative thinking, and no dress code! Unless you want to be hip — soul patch, rectangular glasses (must be for show ‘cuz no one can read through those little dippy things), and shirt out so no one can see your belt. I do wear Birkenstocks sometimes but I’ve never gotten an award for my dress, that’s for sure. Golf shirts until the winter weather bans them.
But calling what we do a “job” misses the point: it is a vocation. Most college teachers I know (probably not that many) love what they do but we don’t normally see ourselves having a “job.” Well, I could rant about that.
The report somehow managed to mention that some college presidents make half a million, but most make only a quarter. Now, why not mention the salaries, which are way, way, way below what the Presidents make, of the professors — which is what this article is about? They do say entry level professors don’t make much, which is gospel truth. I can tell you a story on that one but I have no desire to damage my previous employer’s reputation.
They are right that the best opportunities for being hired are in the professional schools and where the educational system overlaps with the business world. Openings in the traditional liberal arts are not nearly so easy; in fact, the competition today is brutal.
And not all college teaching jobs are alike. When I taught at seminary I sensed that most of us had about the same load, though the homiletics dept seemed to have more responsiblities like watching people preach in a lab. But college teaching varies wildly, and I rate the following as by the hardest jobs:
1. Education Dept: those folks have so many State-mandated rules that it is a constant swirl of mandate administration, supervision of student teaching, and the normal teaching responsiblities.
2. English Dept: grade, grade, grade. That is what English profs, or those who teaching writing, do more than anyone else.
3. Science Depts where the classes have labs. Lots of extra grading and supervising and getting labs ready.
I rate these at the top; others may view it differently, but my experience confirms that these three Depts ought to be given an immediate bump in salary.
Now let me stick my neck out: the easiest of the Depts is philosophy. Not because it is easy to study or know, but because those folks can talk about anything and everything and turn each moment into a debate about something. Amazing, those folks, they seem to be able to turn a question into a dissertation.
Not all schools have the “publish or perish” mentality; liberal arts college more frequenly focus on teaching and not so much on publishing.
Here’s the brief on college professors from CNN:
2. College professor
Why it’s great While competition for tenure-track jobs will always be stiff, enrollment is rising in professional programs, community colleges and technical schools — which means higher demand for faculty.
It’s easier to break in at this level, and often you can teach with a master’s and professional experience. Demand is especially strong in fields that compete with the private sector (health science and business, for example).
The category includes moonlighting adjuncts, graduate TAs and college administrators.
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.
Top-paying job University presidents’ pay can hit $550,000 or more, but most make about half that.
Education Master’s or professional degree; Ph.D. for most tenured jobs.