I was really surprised to read that since the 1960s, the professions that are deemed most prestigious remain unchanged. Medicine, military, public service, science/technology, journalism, clergy, law. Most lists, no matter how you define prestige, have these professions on the list. And if you change the modifier to admired professions, the list doesn’t change.
I was surprised because in the ’60s if you earned a law degree you were pretty much guaranteed a high-paying career. Whereas today law school graduates are so outraged by how terrible the job market is for lawyers that they are suing the law schools for fraud. And some of the most successful law practices are not what you’d expect, for example DWI lawyers.
I’m also surprised the list remains unchanged because the job market is so different now than at the end of the 20th century. For example, in the ’70s blue collar workers had really high unemployment. Today, plumbers, electricians, farmers, and other blue collar specialists are in high demand. And construction management is one of the fastest growing job markets.
Not that I could convince my kids to do something in high demand. After all, the boys grew up on a farm and there was no way I could have convinced them to stay there to become farmers. (In fact, at every turn my older son had ideas about how he should be managing process improvements rather than doing the work.)
And what about journalism being up there in the list? I had no idea. So, first of all, from now on when people ask me what I do, I’m saying I’m a journalist. But I had been saying I’m a blogger because, generally, bloggers have more influence and earn more money than journalists. I mean, really, if you want your kid who’s a great writer to get a prestigious career, they should work at an essay writing service. Because by the time your kid grows up no one will believe that normal people need to write academic papers. And the people who can write them will be a rare breed, all raking in billions of dollars in essay-writing services.
Maybe you are wondering why I am even looking at the list of prestigious jobs. It’s because most adults I coach say they think they should be doing more. They expected to do something important. I always ask: “What does that mean? Who do you know who is doing something important?”
The answer is always that society has an agreement about what is a prestigious job. And all of those jobs require that you have someone else taking care of your kids. I think we should probably make sure our kids know that when they tell us what they want to do when they grow up.
Maybe there should be a list of most prestigious jobs that require so little time that you can do them while being a primary caregiver. If I could write that list I would. But I can’t think of any job that we admire that also takes very little time to do. We don’t really admire people who spend very little time doing whatever they are doing.
Prestige — whatever that means — comes from commitment. And not the type of commitment that parents give to parenting. But you already knew that.