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Professional Downsides
Old 10-05-2006, 03:57 PM   #1
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Professional Downsides

I'd love to hear the downsides of the various professions/ jobs. Studs Turkel once wrote a book in which he interviewed folks in various occupations. It was interesting reading about the inner/negative (and positive) sides of various jobs. I think it gives those outside one's profession a different, more enlightened perspective.
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-05-2006, 05:11 PM   #2
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Re: Professional Downsides

Book was wor k or workingand I really enjoyed it. Like the way he got people to speak their minds.

OK, I'll answer. Lawyer. Civil practice. Commercial litigation. Downsides include unrealistic expectations of clients and general public, nasty and difficult opposing counsel, time pressure, deadlines, testy court personnel, lazy judges. All of these are sometime things.

OTOH, upsides too. Very sharp, intelligent and hardworking clients who are a pleasure to work with, within reason can set your own hours (early in career read: all the time, now read: free time available), most of the people I work with are professional, well qualified and well prepared, good income.

Overall, a positive review on my slice of the profession
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-05-2006, 05:24 PM   #3
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Re: Professional Downsides

former Mainframe Computer System Programmer:

Upside: If things run great, you're a hero and people let you alone; when things run bad, you're in big demand and a hero when you fix it.

Downside: Industry moves fast, and you run the risk of becoming obsolete very quickly. Huge responsibility when your work affects hundreds of cow-orkers and clients.
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-06-2006, 01:31 PM   #4
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Re: Professional Downsides

It would be great to hear from a dentist and an engineer although I'd think the prostitute/call girl "profession" has its issues also.
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-06-2006, 07:10 PM   #5
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Re: Professional Downsides

Quote:
I'd think the prostitute/call girl "profession" has its issues also
i'd guess it has its downside.
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-06-2006, 07:43 PM   #6
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Re: Professional Downsides

engineer - under constant pressure meeting unrelaistic deadline; salary stays stagnant despite good starting salary.
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-07-2006, 01:50 PM   #7
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Re: Professional Downsides

I always thought that Studs T. had quite a bit of character, so I’ll reply…

As far as the professional downside of an Engineer, whether you are acting as a Designer, manager of construction, or whatever, you have to estimate a lot of things. Humans try to fit patterns to random data, so you’re constantly trying to work with all this information while responding from alternating pressures. The Owner, the Contractor, the Designer, maybe an Architect, etc. The Engineer is supposed to act in the interest of the Owner, but you’ve got to be all things to all parties, all while staying within budget. Not that other professions don’t have a budget, but I don’t know if the forces are as “diametrically opposed”. You want a good product/project, but it’s always a money crunch.

For example, building a highway. Or, maintaining one. Sure you want smooth pavement, minimizing congestion, safe, adequate structural/load carrying capacity, but all while controlling the cost.

So you’re always trying to maximize one thing and minimize something else. That takes a toll. The Contractor is always after a buck but the Owner used the lowest bidder.

That’s just one aspect of it. All the while you're professionally responsible if you're certifying plans that you've designed, etc. Sometimes you can be the Designer and act on behalf of the Owner while you're the Construction Manager. Gets to be a tangled web.

I'm starting to intermingle responsibilty. Need I go on?

-CC
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-07-2006, 02:42 PM   #8
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Re: Professional Downsides

Architect:

Some of the same down and up sides that CC mentioned.

Other upsides: Lots of variety in what you do - working on many projects, which cycle through design and construction phases, many different types of buildings, many different clients and consultants. Even the worst projects end eventually. It's hard to get bored.

Offers a blend of creative "right brain" activites (designing) and analytical "left brain" stuff like structural calculations, cost estimating, etc.

Allows you to make a meanful impact on your community and the environment if you are so inclined.

Downsides: People often think we are too expensive, and don't percieve value in what we produce ("I can buy a set of plans for $1,500 why should I pay you ten times that?"). Meanwhile our average salaries are signifcantly less than lawyers, doctors, realtors....

Liability is becoming a major issue, and insurance almost as bad as malpractice for doctors. We can get sued every time someone falls down (because we picked out the floor tile they fell on).

Regulations and bureaucratic b.s. are becoming nearly insurmountable - as the government attempts to protect people from themselves via legislation....

ooops. I better get off my soap box.


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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-07-2006, 03:55 PM   #9
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Re: Professional Downsides

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheryl
Architect:

Some of the same down and up sides that CC mentioned.

Other upsides: Lots of variety in what you do - working on many projects, which cycle through design and construction phases, many different types of buildings, many different clients and consultants. Even the worst projects end eventually. It's hard to get bored.

Offers a blend of creative "right brain" activites (designing) and analytical "left brain" stuff like structural calculations, cost estimating, etc.

Allows you to make a meanful impact on your community and the environment if you are so inclined.

Downsides: People often think we are too expensive, and don't percieve value in what we produce ("I can buy a set of plans for $1,500 why should I pay you ten times that?"). Meanwhile our average salaries are signifcantly less than lawyers, doctors, realtors....

Liability is becoming a major issue, and insurance almost as bad as malpractice for doctors. We can get sued every time someone falls down (because we picked out the floor tile they fell on).

Regulations and bureaucratic b.s. are becoming nearly insurmountable - as the government attempts to protect people from themselves via legislation....
Everything Sheryl said, particularly regulations and building officials.

I would add pay to the list of downsides.
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-07-2006, 05:01 PM   #10
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Re: Professional Downsides

Registered Nurse

downside: body fluids and their associated smells, pay not commensurate with responsibility and you can be sued.

upside: you can always get a job and work around a family, tremendous amount of respect in the community, you can make enough to live a nice middle class life on and you can in essence change occupations many times during the same career.
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-07-2006, 06:18 PM   #11
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Re: Professional Downsides

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spanky
engineer - under constant pressure meeting unrelaistic deadline; salary stays stagnant despite good starting salary.
I don't know what you mean by salaries staying stagnant. I'm making 10X what I started at. Of course, that was over 30 years ago. Now, I'm making a little under 2X current starting salary.

The nice thing about engineering is you can be pretty mediocre and still be solidly in the middle class. As for unrealistic deadlines, you eventually figure out it all pays the same.
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-07-2006, 09:51 PM   #12
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Re: Professional Downsides

Navy submarine officer:
http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...98078#msg98078
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-07-2006, 10:41 PM   #13
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Re: Professional Downsides

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2B
I don't know what you mean by salaries staying stagnant. I'm making 10X what I started at. Of course, that was over 30 years ago. Now, I'm making a little under 2X current starting salary.

The nice thing about engineering is you can be pretty mediocre and still be solidly in the middle class. As for unrealistic deadlines, you eventually figure out it all pays the same.
2B,
It appears that you did much better than I have done. I am only making 5.87X starting salary 28 years ago. That translates to 5.87% annualized - slightly better than the rate of inflation. If it was 10x, my current salary would have to be $180K. This is only possible at the VP level in the Midwest.

Spanky
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-08-2006, 06:25 AM   #14
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Re: Professional Downsides

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spanky
2B,
It appears that you did much better than I have done. I am only making 5.87X starting salary 28 years ago. That translates to 5.87% annualized - slightly better than the rate of inflation. If it was 10x, my current salary would have to be $180K. This is only possible at the VP level in the Midwest.

Spanky
Life is all timing. I graduated in 1973 -- just before the big run up in engineering salaries. May salary more than doubled in the first 5 years. That's about when you graduated.

One interesting bit of trivia on salaries. When I graduated from UW, my accounting major friend got about the same starting salary offers that I did in chemical engineering. ChemE's starting salaries eventually went to twice accounting starting salaries by 1980. It's pulled back since then because of the 1980's engineering bust/financial boom. Currently, ChemEs will start around $60K and I think accountants are around $45K -- subject to correction. Engineering is going into another boom.

I remember Houston in the mid-80s. I loved this bumper sticker -- "Please God, give us one more oil boom and we promise not to screw it up." Well, this is it and I won't. I'll be gone before it's over if my plans work out. Actually, I could go now from a financial standpoint but personal issues make it pointless to cease employment. With any luck (again on the personal side), I'll get better and longer vacations. I like to think of it as a transitional period.
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-08-2006, 07:30 AM   #15
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Re: Professional Downsides

Applied Mathematician, working with Biomedical Researchers:

Downsides include
  • Since no one else you work with knows much math, or wants to know, you have to learn their fields to communicate -- they won't learn yours.
  • Some physicians are pure crap to collaborate with -- they took the "Doctors=Gods" course in med school a little too seriously.
  • Constantly being confused with being a statistician (eewww) or computer scientist (eewww2).
  • After age 50, it becomes harder to make ones mind buckle down to a long intricate calculation. In grad school, I recall one homework problem that required 20+ pages of multiscale expansions to solve correctly. I don't think I could stomach that any more. My advisor warned me of this more than 20 years ago, and now I see what he means. This is the real downside -- which is partly why I drifted into this forum.

Upsides include
  • The fields of math applications can be very interesting (for me, MRI of the brain, and in the past, Synthetic Aperture Radar of the ocean surface).
  • Some physicians are noble people, well worth knowing and working with.
  • Since very few people (even scientists -- excepting physicists) know much mathematics, but do somehow know that mathematics is important, collaborators tend to treat you with respect.
  • (Don't get me started on physicists, though.)
  • In biomedical research at least, travel to conferences in nice places (Florence, Budapest, Honolulu, Nice, Brighton, Copenhagen over the last 10 years).
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-08-2006, 08:50 AM   #16
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Re: Professional Downsides

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert the Red
  • Constantly being confused with being a statistician (eewww) or computer scientist (eewww2).
Too funny!
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-08-2006, 10:12 AM   #17
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Re: Professional Downsides

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert the Red
Synthetic Aperture Radar of the ocean surface.
So you're the one to blame for messing up our periscope techniques!
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-08-2006, 12:19 PM   #18
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Re: Professional Downsides

CEO

Upsides
- considerable freedom
- try your ideas without second-guessing
- create jobs for lots of people
- make something new happen in industry
- personal leverage
- earnings and perqs

Downsides
- lonesome job (no peers in the company)
- responsibility for all your people
- long hours (are you every really off?)
- short vacations
- BoD relationship takes time (if they are to be effective)
- no privacy (your life is fascinating to all your 650 employees)
- mistakes are very visible
- all decisions that get to your office are tough ones

To some degree, these also apply to self-employed.
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-08-2006, 04:30 PM   #19
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Re: Professional Downsides

Quote:
Originally Posted by kcowan
CEO

Upsides
- considerable freedom
- try your ideas without second-guessing
- create jobs for lots of people
- make something new happen in industry
- personal leverage
- earnings and perqs

Downsides
- lonesome job (no peers in the company)
- responsibility for all your people
- long hours (are you every really off?)
- short vacations
- BoD relationship takes time (if they are to be effective)
- no privacy (your life is fascinating to all your 650 employees)
- mistakes are very visible
- all decisions that get to your office are tough ones

To some degree, these also apply to self-employed.
I agree with all of this, except not too sure my life was all that
fascinating to my employees. Maybe.

JG
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Re: Professional Downsides
Old 10-08-2006, 04:42 PM   #20
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Re: Professional Downsides

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr._johngalt
I agree with all of this, except not too sure my life was all that
fascinating to my employees. Maybe.

JG
There were a lot of others that weren't true either but I wasn't going to burst his bubble.
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