University

College professor named least stressful job

Careercast.com recently ranked the job of a university professor as the least stressful career entering 2013.

According to the article, the job obtains the ranking because of its high growth opportunities, low health risks and substantial pay.

Some CMU professors could not disagree more with the website’s recent stress ranking of their career.

“I worked as a court administrator in Roscommon County Probate Court for 27 years,” English Professor Sue Murphy said via email. “The stress level there was much less than my time at CMU.”

The job of professor was given a score of 6.45 out of 100 based on 11 different levels of job demands. While the university professor had the lowest score, those enlisted in the military and all military personnel scored the highest with 84.72.

Sociology, anthropology and social work professor Brigitte Bechtold said the lack of free time is what makes being a professor stressful.

“We have to grade all the time,” she said. “We have to use our free time to keep up with our fields, which means we don’t have a lot of free time like everyone else. I cannot remember the last time I went home without bringing my work or computer with me to get ready for the next class or semester.”

The sense of competition on a college campus adds to the stress of the job of a professor, Murphy said.

“Political competition among colleagues and between departments and CMU administrators is strong,” Murphy said.

Murphy said that sense of competition has gotten especially worse in the last five years due to the economy. With so many people looking for a position among the faculty or hoping to stay, the once-regular levels of stress can easily skyrocket.

And with such a tough economy, money has been an issue. Many assume a professor lives comfortably with six figures, yet the range of a CMU faculty member’s salary is gaping.

“Salaries at CMU range from $18,000 to $175,000, and many of us have been dropped to part-time during these recession years,” Murphy said.

There’s also the issue of class sizes increasing. Professors can have classes of anywhere from 15 to more than 150 students. With the larger classes sizes, Murphy said it’s very difficult to give students individual attention and even more frustrating trying to figure out what level to teach the course.

Though she doesn’t consider her job to be easy, she believes that it’s all worth it in the end.

“My stress level as a professor is far greater, but that is balanced by my feeling of accomplishment, making a difference in the lives of students,” Murphy said.

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