Monday, June 04, 2007

Twelve Indestructible Careers?

The following news article from caught my eye. It is about 12 'indestructible careers' that one can ever have.
  1. Doctor (Always a need to deal with illness)
  2. Teacher (Always a need for education)
  3. Mortician (People are mortal)
  4. Waste Disposal Manager (People create lots of waste, all the time)
  5. Scientist (People always desire to understand and invent things)
  6. Tax Collector (Need I say more?)
  7. Barber (Hair never grows shorter)
  8. Soldier (Always a war to be fought, or going to be fought)
  9. Religious Leader (People at all stages of life ponder about religion and meaning of life)
  10. Law Enforcement Officer (People need a system to govern their lives, protection and security)
  11. Farmer (People need to eat)
  12. Construction Worker (People need to live in proper homes/shelters)
Call it iron-ricebowl, or job security. The careers above are said to be 'indestructible'. Doctors earn the most, while the soldier earns the least. They have this common feature in terms of a long term career prospect. Interestingly, these careers cover almost all of the kinds of jobs we see in our various societies. Is such a list useful? What if I rearrange the list in terms of salary scale, in ascending order?
  1. Soldier (median annual salary $14,137)
  2. Farmer (median annual salary $15,603)
  3. Barber (median annual salary $21,200)
  4. Religious Leader (median annual salary $34,000)
  5. Construction Worker (median annual salary $35,000)
  6. Waste Disposal Manager (median annual salary $35,000)
  7. Mortician (median annual salary $37,000)
  8. Tax Collector (median annual salary $38,000)
  9. Law Enforcement Officer (median annual salary $38,236)
  10. Teacher (median annual salary about $42,000)
  11. Scientist (median annual salary $42,000)
  12. Doctor (median annual salary $120,000)
Waste of Time?
How do we make out the statistics? A waste of time? Not quite. It helps us snapshot the perspective of the current culture. The very reason why doctors are earning what they are earning, is due largely to people around them. In fact, I will say that the success of the doctors or any other professions is very much dependent on the successes of one another. The presence of diverse careers existing around them help to bring out the best of each other. For example, if all are doctors, who is going to cut our hair? If all of us are teachers, who is going to invent and discover the science around us, to supply substance to the teaching curriculum? If everyone's a scientists, who is going to help discern the mysteries of life that cannot be explained by science? If all of us are morticians, everybody will be sitting down staring at each other, waiting for one another to die so that we can do our job! Even then, we might be snatching dead bodies to make our commissions! Gruesome. Perhaps the salary scale is but an indication (though imperfect), of the 'compensation' for the kind of work we do, not a net measurement of self-worth.

Doctors are compensated for the many hours of study and societal expectations to serve the sick, to risk exposure to everyday illnesses as they see patients. Scientists are compensated for their time and energy to discover the next big thing, or to find useful solutions to everyday challenges. For all we know, it may takes years or never! Teachers have to continually learn, and the salary compensation allows them to keep learning and be better teachers. There are much more that can be said about the other careers, but I would like to say a little more about the soldier, the career that is at the lowest salary median. Is that a measure of nett worth? No. One's worth should never be in terms of what one does. We must never look down on any one kind of job. Neither should we elevate any other jobs above the others. After all, isn't it true that the rich and the powerful are also most capable of becoming the biggest bullies? If a CEO gets a $1 million increase at the expense of a few hundred jobs within the same company, isn't that unfair, that the CEO helps the company to 'save' money by eliminating jobs, and getting rewarded for that?

Maybe the kind of job soldiers do, are only part of the overall compensation package? Suffice to say that the soldier is very much a front-runner to the smooth functioning of society. In times of martial law, the soldiers take over the running of the country. If the land is not protected, the farmer will soon lose his farmland, lawyers has no rights, and other job occupations are curtailed to a large extent. Is this list useful? I will say yes. Is the salary median useful? I will say not quite. This is because the use of salary scale essentially puts the different careers at an unfair level. We need to show respect to the different occupations people are now in. Some are chosen, but for many the jobs they are in is a combination of circumstances and the willingness of the person to work on it for a season of their life. It should never be downplayed. It should never be compared with others in terms of job usefulness. In fact, there is no basis for comparison. The compensation is essentially a reflection of the risks they take, even though this compensation is less than perfect. What matters for us is to take a good hard look at what we are doing, and to ask the question: "Is this who I really am wired to do?", rather than "Is this the kind of salary I ought to be getting?"

The former question is the better question. The latter smacks of self-arrogance.


Link (article on MSN)

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