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Jobs: Worst Returns on Academic Investment

CNNMoney had another thought-provoking article on the jobs with really low returns on investment [3], when you consider investment as the dollars and time required to earn the qualifications needed to do the work. The three jobs they list are architects, chefs, and academic research assistants. The basic criteria they use to calculate return is merely salary (and how long you have to work to achieve a “good” wage) and they claim unless you are the cream of the crop (in the first two anyway), you really aren’t going to see the big bucks. But I think their study is pretty much meaningless… here’s why.

The main complaint I have is that those three jobs don’t strike me as the vocations people would seek if they were chasing the big bucks. Culinary school, architecture programs, and whatever major the research is in (they list microbiologist, medical, and social) aren’t exactly inexpensive programs to get into, start, and complete. Most of the time the students who enroll in those types of programs do it for the love of the craft. Three other vocations they list are archaeologist, clergy, and social psychologist: also not three jobs where you’ll be forced to decide whether to buy a Bentley or a Rolls-Royce this year.

I suppose it’s interesting to note that all those poor suckers graduating with a degree with social psychology, who by this report will not be getting their money’s worth out of school, probably laugh to themselves when they think of all the engineers (who consistently rank among the highest in salary out of school) slaving away 8+ hours a day in cubicle-farms staring at computer monitors. Sometimes money isn’t the most important thing and I’d like to think that a social psychologist has a great impact on the world than a lawyer. 🙂