University professors have the least stressful job, according to US survey

Hazel Shearing – News Reporter 11 January 2013

A recent report published by CareerCast, a US jobs website, claims that university professors have the least stressful careers.

Professors rank above tailors and seamstresses in the list of ‘The Ten Least Stressful Jobs of 2013′ – a claim that has provoked outrage from academics on the job search website and on Twitter.

CareerCast asserts that because ” students are largely those who choose the classes they attend”, their work on a day-to-day basis is simply not overly demanding.

The report’s ranking criteria include the amount of deadlines, work in the public eye and competitiveness experienced by the professional. Given the nature of supervising students and essay marking, as well as lecturing and the highly taxing process of academic research and publishing, anonymous professors have argued on the website that this is a gross underestimation of the academic’s working life.

Eugenio Biagini, Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Cambridge University, told The Cambridge Student that in terms of American academia, this claim is “plausible only if you exclude from your evidence the pre-tenure professors who have a very stressful start to their careers”.

“As far as the UK is concerned,” Professor Biagini added, “funding is the key source of stress”.

At the other end of the scale, the most stressful career is deemed to be an enlisted soldier, followed by firefighters in second place and aeroplane pilots in third. These professions, different in nature to academia, are thought to be the most stressful due to the amount of hazards encountered, as well as the risk to one’s own life and those of others.

The report’s association of stress with danger rather than piles of paperwork has been a source of controversy this week. Critics have the drawbacks of using simple criteria to assess the nature of complex psychological conditions.

Hazel Shearing – News Reporter