Continuing my journey through this list of 200 top-rated jobs and consider whether any would be worth a career change.  For background, see the first post in the series.  Next discussion point is chosen through random number generation. The random number generator says:

79. Public Relations Executive.

Duties, per CareerCast site: “Helps governmental bodies, businesses and individuals maintain a positive image with the public.”

Before I do any further research:

What do I think people who have this job do? You meet with said governmental bodies, businesses, and individuals that want to improve their image.  You wear a telephone headset.  You use the word “synergy” a lot, and on occasion, “syzygy.”  You know people in high places, in the press, and on the streets.  You prepare press releases and arrange photo shoots.  You have an encyclopedic knowledge of public failure, and are kept up nights worrying about doing the same to your clients.  You know a really, really expensive lawyer.  The day-to-day job is pretty exciting and stressful, you do a lot of different things, from getting a website up to explain how such and such business really cares about where it dumps its toxic waste, to putting on an “impromptu” public event for the executive board to attend and pretend to do work for the community.  When a crisis arises, you get a phone call and tell your clients what to say.  I think you get a pretty great salary but work like 80 hours a week.  Also you have to be some kind of great talker and really good at getting to know people and conversing with strangers.  If you’ve got the skillset, I think there’s plenty of work for you and this is a job you’d dig, but you’ve either got it or you don’t.

Do I think I would like this job? I don’t think I could handle the stress.  Plus I think I would naturally about the worst public relations executive ever.

What would be required to become qualified? I bet this is a lot more about having the right personality than having the right academic or work background.  Though if you worked in business you’d know that world pretty well, or government, same deal.

Would I want to do that? I don’t think I could really turn myself into this person unless it’s a lot more low-key than I realize.

Looking at the numbers:

Overall rank: 79.  Overall not a bad gig to have.  For the right person.

Details: Work environment gets a moderate score of 1247 (lots of public contact, crisis handling), physical demands light at 7.24 (this is a mental and emotional job, no question), stress almost off the charts at 78.5, income and hiring outlook both pretty good.


Looking at a few job descriptions is enlightening.  Probably not usually as much running around doing political stuff as I thought.  A lot of jobs are corporate.  You make sure brands are consistent, so you spend a lot of time in meetings making sure people are going the same direction.  You spend a lot of time studying competitors to see what they’re doing and try to spin ways to make it better.  Overall, seems like a job for an extrovert who likes to get immersed in their work, do a lot of talking, go to a lot of meetings, and create and refine an image.  Salary is pretty good but maybe not worth the trade-off in hours you have to spend on the job, or the stress.  Pretty much, not for me in any way.  Thanks for playing, public relations executive!

Next up: #35, Industrial designer.

I am generally pretty happy as a librarian.  It matches my skill set and interests and I like other librarians.  I seem to do a good job – patrons thank me more often than not and I continue to be employed.  All that said, on a given day I’d rather not work than work.  Note: I do anyway, because that is how I obtain money.  But without this extra incentive, I would not go.  I’m glad I am connecting people with information and all, but if I were not compensated for my time, society would just have to do without my guidance while I did something else that allowed me to continue eating and having a house.  Or, if money were not motivation at all, I would just do all those I other things I do that make me happy enough that I don’t need further enticement.  Naturally, this leads me to wonder if there is a job out there where I would want to go even if no one paid me.  Or at minimum, would it improve one or more work-related variables without overly screwing up the other ones?  For example, that would be great if I could do the same amount of weekly work for ten times the salary, but I would not make the trade if there was a significant chance of dismemberment.  I suppose I could try to estimate how much higher my salary would have to be to take on a job that entailed a risk of dismemberment, but I’ll leave that exercise for later.  (Off the top of my head, probably at least 7 figures.  And there would have to be some pretty good benefits.)

So, over the next months or however long it takes to get bored of this project, I will parse through this list of 200 top-rated jobs and consider whether any would be worth a career change.  I will use a random number generator to pick which to discuss next.  The random number generator says:

113. Barber.

Duties, per CareerCast site: “Shampoos, trims, cuts, and styles hair according to the desires of customers.”

Before I do any further research:

What do I think people who have this job do? You work in a small shop. Sometimes you own the shop, or work for the person who does.  Sometimes it’s more like a chain, which would be sorta depressing.  I think the best situation would be to work in a cool old-school barbershop like the one in Rushmore. But I bet most of those are getting put out of business by crappy SuperCuts franchises. You answer the phone and take appointments, but otherwise you sit around reading magazines until someone comes in.  Sometimes customers are really nice and aren’t too picky. Sometimes they will accuse you of ruining their life when you’re done. Sometimes they will be kids – the terrified ones are best because they hold still.  You have to objectively know stuff about when a haircut looks good and when it doesn’t, for both sexes.  Then you sweep up some hair. You spend a lot of the day standing and holding your arms up in the air, so I’d think your shoulders get stronger.  You see some pretty poorly-washed hair, but at least you can wash it.  You’re handling razors so probably no punks are going to mess with you.  You probably have your regulars and feel like a comfortable townie but don’t make much money.  You can watch TV while you’re working.  I would guess there are enough jobs that pretty much anyone willing to be a barber could be a barber.

Do I think I would like this job? Probably not at all. I don’t like touching strangers. I have little sense of style. I am terribly uncomfortable getting my own hair cut, why would I want to cut someone else’s?

What would be required to become qualified? Having no training matching this job whatsoever, I would have to either apprentice myself at a barber shop or go to beauty college.

Would I want to do that? No chance.

Looking at the numbers:

Overall rank: 113, in the upper part of the bottom half.  I guess 113 out of 200 says: if you have to have kind of a cruddy job, this isn’t a bad one to have.

Details: Work environment gets a 575.120 (pretty good), physical demands 9.22 (lots of standing, but that’s about it), stress 23.621 (way low), income about $24K (terrible), hiring outlook very poor.


I think I pretty much get what a barber does, and I wouldn’t want to do it.  It’s not too demanding, and certainly not stressful (more the opposite: boring).  But the salary is awful.  I’m surprised that the hiring outlook is poor.  Wouldn’t society always need barbers?  Maybe it’s hard to become a good one.  Or maybe once a good barbershop job is taken, it stays taken.  I have been going to my current barbershop for years and have never seen any new staff.  Anyway, it all comes down to having to touch a lot of strangers’ heads.  No thank you.

Next up: #79, Public Relations Executive.