Which job is most varied? How varied is yours?

I realize a lot of this depends on your perspective, as to what is and is not varied. For example, the folk at the DMV do the same thing over and over, but with respect to a constantly changing line of individuals. A long distance trucker travels all over the country, but basically keeps it between the lines. And I imagine that 2 different people with different personalities might disagree as to whether their jobs is varied or repetitive.

So - what jobs would have the greatest amount of variability? And how would you define it? I’m thinking possibly something like a writer or film producer, who works on widely different projects.

I work in a legal profession. All of my cases concern one area of law, and tend to be variations of fewer than 5 or so themes. I basically do the same thing over and over, and never travel, always report to the same worksite. Tho I interact with different people, their issues are all pretty similar. Since I have to handle a volume of work, concerns for efficiency encourage minimizing the uniqueness of any one case.

I chose my career precisely because it’s so varied, or can be. I’m in nursing. With my habit of loving jobs for 5-7 years and then getting bored, nursing seems like a good choice. I can work in a hospital, in a wide variety of settings and tasks, or a school, or an office, or an insurance company, or at homes. I can work via phone or in person or in telemedicine. I can work with babies, kids, adults, elders… I can do surgical or teaching or wound care or colonoscopies all day if I want to.

My particular branch of nursing at the moment provides a lot of variety, even. I’m in home health. I go to people’s houses and provide nursing care. So some days my schedule looks like this (all of these hypothetical representations, no HIPAA violations here!):

Patient A: just had a knee replacement. Go look at the leg, feel it, make sure there’s no infection or bleeding or blood clots, check all his medications, talk him down out of his tree because he thinks something must be wrong because this is the worst pain anyone ever had, teach him how to reposition the leg with pillows and rolled towels to feel a little better, show his wife how to put on his compression stockings, call the doctor to discuss better pain control options, get an order to remove his Foley catheter before his urology appointment in a few days… I’ll be making 5 visits this week to make sure that he doesn’t develop complications and his pain is controlled and he does his PT.

Patient B: was recently discharged from the hospital after her blood sugar hit 700 and she was diagnosed with diabetes. Today I’m going to make sure she can correctly draw up and inject her insulin and use her glucometer. I’m going to be seeing her weekly for a couple of months, but probably only one or two days a week, and we’re mostly going to be working on understanding diabetes better, losing some weight, and learning what she needs to do to keep her feet attached to her legs.

Patient C: just had a surgery done on his shoulder and needs IV antibiotics daily for a week. I’ll change out his IV catheter as needed, run the antibiotics and monitor him for any adverse reactions or allergies and keep an eye on the surgical site for signs of infection. He doesn’t need much teaching, this is just a temporary blip for him, so we’ll spend a lot of time talking about his favorite dog and how much the weather stinks.

Patient D: has venous stasis ulcers, and she can’t change her own wound dressings. Worse, I noticed last week that her skin started getting signs of cellulitis. So that was a bunch of phone calls to various doctors (her podiatrist, who referred me, her vascular surgeon, her infectious disease doc, her cardiologist) and pharmacy and education about antibiotics, in addition to the simple wound care I thought it was going to be.

So…observation, education, IVs, wound care, case management…home health nursing is very diverse. I often say it’s nursing like nursing is taught in nursing school, unfettered by the ridiculous time demands of hospital nursing that often prevent you from actually being a nurse.

Mine is as varied as playing cookie clicker and reading the dope can be for 8 hours/day.

I spent my life repairing heavy duty trucks, always something different. Welding fabricating, electrical work, engine work. Never really boring although sometimes heavy and nasty.

I run a small company so my days can range from doing engineering to graphic design and from out selling my rum to bars and restaurants to doing light manual labor mixing up and distilling a new batch. We also build our own equipment so some of my days are spent welding and doing fabrication. There aren’t many hats I don’t wear in a given month depending on who needs the most help at any given moment.

I was a story editor for a nightly TV news-magazine show, which required conceiving, researching, traveling, interviewing and editing something new and different every day. That was certainly varied, a typical week would have me in a hospital ER, a session of the legislature, and on a fishing boat. And then in a necktie in front of the cameras.

I’m a full-time mom and housewife, with a mostly disabled husband. The kids range from 4 to 25 (as of next month.) Two dogs. Nearly 5 acres. The only constant is that every damn body wants to get fed every damned day. Otherwise, I could be doing anything from plumbing repair to tax and insurance paperwork to dog grooming to auto repair. PTO meetings, helping the kindergartener glue shit to other crap and learn her word list, filling out paperwork for the Boy’s scholarship applications, talking Girl 1.0 down after her latest disastrous relationship, advising Girl 2.0 on wardrobe matters and topics for her latest project or newspaper article, having a tea party with Littlest Miss and 3000 baby dolls.Cutting grass, buying groceries, paying the bills, doing laundry, helping my dad research a new water heater, keeping up with the Fellow’s medical appointments and helping with fun stuff like applying the TENS unit or post-surgical care, etc. It doesn’t pay much, but it’s definitely not repetitive!

Thanks all. Sounds like several of you have considerable variety in your chosen careers. I wonder how I would deal with that? I mean, it is appealing to complain about repetition and boredom, but it is easy and (in my case) pays well.

In a previous job, maybe 80-90% of my work involved variations on a limited number of themes. When the “odd” assignments came up, instead of viewing them as interesting, I often viewed them as an annoyance - keeping me from the work I knew and did well. I think it would be better (for me) if the ratios were more evenly distributed.

I guess it would drive me crazy if the hours/commute were not so convenient, leaving me plenty of free time (which I generally spend doing boring repetitive stuff! ;))

Stationary Engineer.
Have you ever heard the expression a Jack of all trades but a master of none? A Stationary Engineer has to be a Jack of all trades and a Master of most.
You can work in manufacturing plants, Ice and cold storage, boiler rooms, power generation, hospitals, schools and colleges, high rise buildings, low rise office buildings, hotels, and a few other areas. Each type of job requires the same basic skills and training, but each type of job has it own set of sub skills and regulations. ONe year you might spend a lot of time rebuilding pumps, the next none but rebuilding chillers and refrigeration systems. One day trouble shooting electrical systems the next day plumbing work. No two days are really the same. Except boiler watch in a heating plant. You are there just incase something goes wrong and that is about twice a year.

YOur plant may be turn of the century, that is the 21st century or the 20th century.

Mine varies quite a lot now. I work for an aerospace company, and joined the R&D group about 3 years ago. There is a cubicle with my name on it, but I (literally) haven’t sat in it since joining.

We move a lot from project to project, and are often sent to help groups that are behind schedule (not as geniuses rescuing their designs or anything, we’re just versatile and are good as extra help).

In these past years I’ve worked in an anechoic chamber, on a flightline, at two different offsite vendors, and in different aircraft simulators. I’ve programmed schedulers, middleware, sensor models, image rec, and a variety of other oddities. I spent a few months as the CM admin on one project, and spent the last few months testing a new avionics suite by flying scenarios in the simulator. To top it off, the boss told me I’ll be going to explosives school this spring (next task will be around live ordnance).

This is a huge change for me. Prior to this I had been in the same cubicle for 10 years, doing essentially the same things every week.

Like…you engineer things like envelopes and wedding initiations or you are expected to design things while not moving?:smiley:

I became a management consultant for the variety. Projects typically last from a few weeks to a few months (although some can go on for years). A new project typically means a new client, a new team, possibly a new location so it’s kind of like having a new job every few months but you don’t have to update your professional contact information or business cards.

For example, right now I work from home with a remote team doing mostly some analysis work on complex financial instruments. My last project I travelled to Boston every week for six months helping a bank design a global IT system. Over the years, I’ve worked on a variety of projects for banks and financial service companies, software companies, law firms, airlines, consumer products companies and a national sports league.

Consultants also seem to change firms frequently (1-4 years) or go in and out of consulting to startups, management positions in industry and whatnot, so that adds to the variety.

One the one hand, there is a lot of variety. But OTOH, there’s a lot of similarity in that at the end of the day, it all seems to come down to a bunch of dull meetings, conference calls, WebEx’s and sending a of emails, Powerpoint decks and Excel spreadsheets back and forth to different people.

I’m a research scientist specializing in instrument development. Honestly, my job is really more varied than I can deal with, but it helps to be part of a team and understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Writing research papers and grant proposals is, of course, a necessary part of any scientist’s work. Reading papers is also a big part. Attending conferences is also essential, to present results, learn from others, and to network. Teaching too - I don’t work for a university so I don’t have to teach classes (conscious choice on my part), but I have grad students to mentor.

I get to design space science instruments, i.e. instruments that go into space (as well as observing space). Basically I work as a systems engineer - breaking the system down into parts, then handing the parts off to separate engineers and vendors, and working with them to come up with the designs. Also, working with the project manager to make sure that the thing gets built correctly, on time and on budget.

When I was a grad student, I did mechanical design, circuit design and software development myself. I still do optical design & modeling myself (kind of like CAD, I define where the lens & mirror surfaces are, and the computer does a ray-trace to find out how well the design works).

Developing an instrument also involves testing it. We test prototypes to make sure they meet our needs, and we test final (“flight”) instruments to make sure they work perfectly. This involves setting up the lab, which is a big task in itself - our instruments only work in vacuum, so we need a vacuum chamber. It’s a lot of work to set up a vacuum chamber, connect all the pumps & gauges, and install all the equipment to make measurements. It involves writing custom software to control the lab equipment. Luckily we now have an engineer who does most of this, so I don’t have to spend much of my time doing it.

Our instruments mostly fly on a sub-orbital rocket (sounding rocket) out of White Sands, New Mexico. So every year or two, we take our instrument there, and spend a month integrating it with the rocket, and testing it under various conditions with the rocket (e.g. after vibration test, or with actual sunlight shining on it). And, hopefully, see the rocket go up, and watch the data come down by telemetry, which is the best part of my job. The second best part of my job happens a few hours later, when we get on a helicopter to go and pick up the instrument that has landed on the desert and heft it onto the helicopter.

Then we spend the next few months analyzing the data. Some of us will spend years analyzing the data, while the rest of the team goes back to building the next instrument.

As a pilot in one sense every day is the same as another. Our Holy Grail is to make each flight exactly like the Book with zero defects, even minuscule ones. Has never been done, but we keep trying.

OTOH, the environment is ever changing. So it’s sort of like performing in a long-running stage play. Each night the lines and the cues are the same, but the glitches and consequent ad libs are different. With the added fun of rotating between lots of different theaters from show to show. LAX to SFO is a lot like BOS to ORD, but there are also a lot of small-scale dissimilarities. Day, night, winter, summer, East, West, North, South. Same play, different day.

I’m retired now but when I was working my job was working with what you could essentially call people problems (I managed prisons). So in one sense, my job was varied because I was dealing with hundreds of different people every year. On the other hand, most of the problems fell into a relatively small handful of categories.