Fair careers for 2006
Psychologist. It wasn't long ago that the "experts" thought that problems such as schizophrenia and depression were caused by bad parenting. So countless patients and their families were subjected to years of psychotherapy. Now, it's clear that these and other psychological problems have largely physiological roots. I believe that in the coming decade or two, an ever larger proportion of emotional problems will be attributed to physiological causes. That may increase the need for physicians trained in psychology but reduce the need for psychologists focused on the psyche alone.
My experience earning a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Berkeley, and then teaching at four different graduate schools, has convinced me that psychologist training programs have been padded into doctorate-length marathons mainly for financial reasons: It's not because there's so much of value that universities can teach aspiring psychologists but because universities make more money the longer students are in school. And grad students are free or low-cost research slaves for professors. If you're considering a career as a psychologist, ask yourself whether you want to endure that. Then consider whether a career as a personal coach (see above) might be less demanding and more fulfilling.
To learn more
OOH profile: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos056.htm
American Psychological Association: www.apa.org
Read: What You Never Learned in Graduate School: A Survival Guide for Therapists by Jeffrey Kottler.
Journalist. If you can land a decent-paying job, journalism is a great career. There are opportunities for creativity, you're often learning something new, and you feel you make a difference. Many factors, however, make it ever more difficult to find a journalism job that pays a middle-class salary. Print and broadcast organizations are merging or folding, and many remaining ones are using more nationally syndicated content. Thousands of bloggers and other citizen journalists are doing journalism for free, and before long, online search engines will provide on-demand custom "newspapers," based on information from multiple news organizations.
Architect. Many outsiders think this is a terrific, artistic career, but they don't realize how long it takes before an architect gets to design a building. First, there's a five-year bachelor's degree, or a master's. Then there's a three-year internship. After that, many architects in firms must spend years designing building components, such as the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system. Going off on your own may not be a solution. Most people who hire architects are older and reluctant to trust designing their building to a 20- or 30-something.
Teacher. On its face, teaching would seem like a wonderful career. The workday is relatively shortas is the work yearthere are terrific benefits and good job security, and pay has risen above $60,000 in many metropolitan areas. So why would one third of all new teachers leave the profession within five years? Because most new jobs are in highly challenging low-income areas. Making the job even tougher is a trend, driven by politicians, toward putting all studentsfrom those needing special education to those who speak spotty English to those who are giftedin the same class. That's a herculean challenge for the most talented and workaholic teacher.