You may have heard by now that Librarian made the U.S. News list of "Best Careers 2008." The summary of Librarian begins where you would expect it to: "Forget about that image of librarian as a mousy bookworm." Ahh, yes, the mousy bookworm. Where are all the mousy bookworms of yore? They might be less annoying than the "high-tech information sleuths" we all must be who "may also go on shopping sprees" and "put on performances, like children's puppet shows." Ugh. The main attraction, though, is that "on top of it all, librarians' work hours are reasonable." That's why I'm a librarian. They say the national median pay is $51,400. I'm always on the lookout for another career, so I took a look through the list.
There's Hairstylist. Does that count as a career? Seems like it's just more of a job, but that's probably because of where I get my hair cut. The benefits of being a hairstylist are that "there's a lot of time to chat" and the "career is a fashionista's dream." That's exciting. Certainly attracts a different demographic than being a librarian. The national media pay is only $33,700, though, so I think I have to keep looking if I want to try something different. Plus you have to go to school for 9-24 months. If I'm going to do that, I might as well be a librarian.
But then there's Investment Banker., with a national median salary of $258,000. That's more like it! Can I get that with reasonable hours? Alas, no. The "first few years usually require 70-to-100-hour workweeks." Definitely not for me.
Professor is a good one. I like that one. The summary begins: "If you can land a tenure-track position at a four-year institution, you'll enjoy many advantages." I certainly can't argue with that. "The downside? It's tough to land a tenure-track job." Really? Darn it. That career's out, I guess.
At first glance, Ghostwriter seemed perfect, and in some ways I'm already a ghostwriter. I write for a little blog called the Annoyed Librarian. "You do need to forgo the glory of seeing your name in print." Consider that glory forgone! "Consider any writing career only if you like the process of writing, whether or not your name appears on the product." This might be the career for me. "Of course, to be a professional writer, you must write powerfully and quickly—those with writer's block need not apply." Well, I think I write powerfully and quickly, and if you have any different opinion go post it on some other blog. But then there's the national median pay: $61,000. Better than the median librarian, but I'm not the median librarian. Maybe I wouldn't be the median ghostwriter, either. I just don't know, but I bet my benefits are better.
How about Government Manager? Check this out: "Unless you're a superstar, a government job is often a terrific deal. If a company doesn't control costs, it will go out of business. Government won't, so it can continue to offer full-time, well-paying positions with generous benefits, including ample holidays, sick days, and vacation days. You're less likely to have to work beyond 9 to 5 and more likely to enjoy lifetime job security because firing is most difficult." And a national media pay of $97,900! What a great deal, and if I took that job it would be your tax dollars at work instead of mine. That sounds like a winning scenario all around, except for you, but that can't be helped. The problem is I am a superstar, so I'm not sure a government job would be a terrific deal.
Oh well, I guess I'll stay a librarian. The hours are reasonable, and I get to put on puppet shows.
The lesson we all need to learn is that some people, like the non-librarians who make up these "best career" lists, think Librarian is a fine career, but all you frustrated librarians should also remember that there are plenty of other "best careers" besides that of Librarian. You can always go be a locksmith, a firefighter, or a genetic counselor. Opportunity awaits.