September 2, 2010

Stupid Job Lists

Is it just me or does is there a new article published in the media with a numbered list of jobs every day or two?    Its stuff like :  "8 High Paying Jobs" or "6 Jobs With Low Unemployment"  or "9 Best Jobs Without College" or the perennially popular "10 Most Dangerous Jobs".

Looking at one such list, Yahoo recently ran an article titled  7 Jobs Companies are Desperate to Fill

The seven jobs in question are Accountant, Software Engineer, Machinist, Healthcare worker, Biomedical Engineer, Industrial Hygenist and Geoscientist.    If you're in the 3-4% of the labor force that is employed in one of these jobs then this article isn't too useful to you.   If you are in the other 96-97% of the population then knowing that these other people have jobs isn't of much help to you either.   Its not like you can go get yourself a degree in Accounting or Engineering tomorrow and then go apply for one of the positions on the list.   If the idea is that these fields have good long term demand then that would be more useful knowledge since it could give you a list of jobs that might be good to get training in for a career change.  However the list is of jobs that companies are "desperate to fill" in the context of today.   Frankly it seems like this list is borderline taunting people and may as well be called : "Careers You Should Have Chosen Several Years Ago".   All right that may be too critical of me, but I'm not really sure what this kind of list is really supposed to accomplish.  Is it "jobs you could consider retraining yourself for in the future", if so then great, but the article should be named as such.

I've had a negative reaction to another job list article in the past.   I discussed a list of jobs that make 6 figures from Yahoo.   My take was that: You Probably Won't Get Paid $100,000 To Do That   That list of jobs are either jobs I'd really expect to pay well or jobs that don't actually pay well.

I'm guilty of creating such a list myself when I wrote Good Jobs Without 4 Year Degree  When I wrote it, I thought that was a good list, but I'm sure someone else could find some fault with it. 

These lists should all be taken with a grain of salt.   Just because someone writes an article about good jobs, high paying jobs, high demand jobs, easy careers to get into, etc. it doesn't mean that the list they present is a very good one.   I've found fault in the Yahoo articles before for slightly exaggerated information.   They claimed that court reporters can make $100,000 when the average pay for that position is closer to $50,000.   That claim is exaggerated at best and outright misleading at worst.  

My own list of 'good jobs without a 4 year degree is really just my own opinion.    What makes these 'good' jobs?   The jobs may be good in my opinion based on my personal preferences but they may be 'bad' jobs for you and your preferences and goals in life.

I don't want to beat up these lists entirely.   I wrote a list myself so I of course do think they have some value.   The lists should be treated as a starting point to give you some ideas.   It doesn't hurt to look over these lists and see if any of the jobs in question are something that interests you.    But if you see a job that sounds interesting then you should investigate it further.  Don't take what an online article says as gospel.  Dig deeper.   I strongly recommend using the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook data to look up the details on a specific job.    At the OOH site you can get the real facts on employment, working conditions, required training, future demand and earnings for a particular job.

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