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The best jobs and the worst: Where does “political scientist” rank?

- January 9, 2009

In a brand-new survey of 200 careers, what turns out to be the best job? And where does political science stand in the rankings?

Over at CareerCast.com, a new ranking of a wide array of professions compiled by Les Krantz (author of Jobs Rated Almanac) has just been released. Krantz ranked 200 professions on five criteria: environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands, and stress.

And the winner is:

Mathematician.

Okay, fine. No heavy lifting in mathematics. Picking up a piece of chalk passes for hard labor for mathematicians, who spend their time dreaming up proofs that don’t matter and running random number sequences out to the bajillionth decimal place. Pretty soft.

Following mathematician in order are:

actuary
statistician
biologist
software engineer
computer systems analyst
historian
sociologist
industrial designer
accountant
economist

The presence of sociologist at the top of the list kind of jumps out at you, doesn’t it? I mean, have there ever, even once, been parents who wanted their children to be sociologists when they grow up?

And how ’bout accountant? Zzzzzzz.

Anyway, the bad news is the political scientist isn’t at the top of the list.

The good news is that it’s not at the bottom, either.

The lowest-ranked profession is lumberjack, followed in order by:

dairy farmer
taxi driver
seaman
emergency medical technician
roofer
garbage collector
welder
roustabout (oil worker)
ironworker

(I myself would rank being a roofer as the worst job. I could imagine — though not very easily — being any of the other nine. But not a roofer.)

So where is political scientist in these rankings?

A good bet would be that being a political scientist is ranked somewhere in the vicinity of being a historian, a sociologist, or an economist — up toward the top of the list. However, that good bet would be wrong, because political scientist isn’t ranked anywhere near the top of the list.

On the other hand, no matter how negative your perception of being a political scientist is, surely it’s a whole lot better than being a roofer. And thankfully, being a political scientist isn’t ranked anywhere near the bottom of the list.

Nor, for that matter, is political scientist ranked anywhere near the middle of the list.

So where is being a political scientist ranked?

It’s not ranked at all.

What’s up with this? Is political science not recognized as a profession? History is, sociology (!) is, economics is, and political science isn’t? I think I’m more affronted by being ignored than I would have been if we’d been ranked low.