Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Beware Lists of Happiest Jobs

In March of 2007 Workopolis announced the results of a survey of 9,000 working people: Canada's Top 20 Jobs. Here's their list:

CEO / CFO / President
Teacher / Tutor
HR Professional
Actor / Director
Career Counselor / Trainer
Mental Health Counselor / Social Worker
Graphic Designer
Market Researcher / Analyst
Public Relations / Communications Specialist
Writer / Journalist
Computer Programmer
Bar / Restaurant / Hotel Manager
Web Designer / Developer
Product Manager
Construction Tradesperson
Medical / Biological Researcher

At least they surveyed Canadians. A couple of months ago the Globe & Mail gave us another list: The 10 Happiest Jobs.

Physical therapists
Special education teachers
Financial services sales agents
Operating engineers

Now, in the first place, although any of us can do a whole collection of different occupations and enjoy doing any of them, one would be ill-advised to take (attempt to take) up a vocation as a member of clergy on the grounds that it is the occupation that makes the greatest number of people 'happy.' Right? (I am not going to go into this question here even if it is the most important aspect of the discussion!)

The second list was created "by the National Organization for Research at the University of Chicago." Do I need to suggest that religion might have a different place in American society than in Canadian? Or is it that few or none of the 9,000 working people interviewed for the Workpolis survey were members of clergy? In any case, there are considerable discrepancies between the two lists.

According to the University of Chicago, (and the Globe & Mail) the worst jobs in America, masquerading as the worst in Canada, are:

Director of Information Technology
Director of Sales and Marketing
Product Manager
Senior Web Developer
Technical Specialist
Electronics Technician
Law Clerk
Technical Support Analyst
CNC Machinist
Marketing Manager

I see that in 2007 it was great to be a web developer in Canada but woe betide anyone who agreed to become a senior web developer because, according to the Chicago study that would plunge you into despair by 2011.

If these surveys are going to be of any use to us at all then they need to be culturally sensitive, well conducted and well interpreted. It's a little unfortunate that we no longer have the results of a reliable national census in Canada that could be used to frame studies like this.