Which "status" professions are the most over-rated?

Which “status” or high-profile professions (surgeon, pilot, lawyer, actor, architect, professional athlete, etc.) would you say are the most over-rated when one compares the reality of practice to the profession’s outward image? Can anyone here speak regarding first-hand experience?

I know a guy who flies 747’s and he says that it is actually really, really boring, and my doctor laments that she didn’t go to business school… That got me thinking, and hence, my question.

I don’t know if I’d go as far as to say overrated, but “lawyer” sure ain’t like it looks on the tee-vee.

Another I wouldn’t go as far as to say is overrated, but not at all what most people think…rock musician. Schlep your very heavy crap into the van (or bus, if you’re lucky), drive three hours to venue in next city, haul it onstage, sound check, wait around for a few hours while drinking watered down free beer, sit through crappy opening band while drinking watered down free beer, play show to (if lucky) moderate crowd of enthusiastic but penniless weirdos, drink last of watered down free beer, tear down and load whatever non-stolen very heavy equipment you may still have back into band while tired and/or drunk at two-thirty in the morning, argue with promoter over payment and beer you were led to believe was “free” but which appears now to have been very un-free, drive to fleabag motel, crash, wake up, drive three hours to venue in next city, etc. ad nauseum/breakup with girlfriend/complete physical breakdown. Repeat for several months out of every year.

Acting. If you aren’t part of the miniscule percentage actually working, you’re a waiter. And 90% of the ones who are working are interchangable parts to the director and audience. Long days on boring sets, or doing the exact same thing day in and day out, twice on Saturday.

I bet there’s a downside to “porn star” we’re not seeing, too.


I never thought of being a crab as a very “status”-y profession

I would say stock broker. I have never understood why “stock broker” is supposed to be such a swell gig. You basically (as I understand) spend the day giving the hard sell over the phone, sometimes cold calling. I don’t even know that the money is any better than successful salesmen in other fields make. Why should we admire that?

Perhaps when people think stock broker, they really mean investment banker, which is still overrated, but at least respectable, IMHO.

If you want to consider the term "over-valued, I would have to say athletes. As a profession they contribute virtually nothing to society, except perhaps some entertainment for obsessed fans. And still shitheels like Michael Vick and Barry Bonds get millions of dollars and adoration.

I suppose I would but them in the same category as actors, except that they do work harder for their money.

I don’t know how overrated it is, but of the ones named above surgeon is the one I’d least be interested in. It’s high skill and high paid but the pressure is so incredible (one little senior-moment and this guy’s aorta is history) and your life’s not your own (I don’t want a job with 28 hour shifts or 3:00 am calls) and the money, while substantial once you finish residency and what not, is just not worth (to me) the hassle and the stress.

Psychologist is a low glamour job according to friends in the profession. Most people have boring problems and many aren’t interested in fixing them so much as getting medicine and complaining and after a while it becomes very repetetive (“So last time we talked about your parents… and the time before that… and the time before that… and the time before that…”).

You better have some thick walls to deflect those pitchforks, and a water hose to put out the torches. :smiley:

I’d agree with stock broker. My dad worked as a stock broker at Merrill Lynch and Wachovia. It is a very stressful job.

Business owner.

Owning your own business sounds like a lot of fun until you do it. It’s an amazingly hard job with incredibly long hours, and if you do anything wrong you could ruin yourself.

Every three years when I take my “prevention of substance abuse” class (note: do not refer to it in short-hand as “my substance abuse credit” because the people that teach the classes take themselves very seriously) to maintain my law licence, we’re told that as professions, doctors, lawyers and airplane pilots have the highest rates of alcoholism/substance abuse problems.

Being a lawyer can be a high-stress job, but the rewards can also be good – you work with smart people on interesting problems. In the top echelon of law firms, the money is extraordinary, but so are the sacrifices that are expected of you, mostly in terms of time: time off, time with your family, time to pursue other interests. I agree with pravnik that real lawyering isn’t like what you see on tv. We’ve often joked that if a tv show tried to get law right, it’d get cancelled after the first episode (“This week, a group of young attorneys gather in a warehouse to review documents. Before they’re done, they’ll review 1000 boxes – and argue over where they’re going to lunch!”) And, truth be told, the type of place where I work employs probably between fewer than 10% of all lawyers – most lawyers don’t work the kind of hours that big firm lawyers do, but I suspect that the stress levels can be comparable.

So, bottom line: being a lawyer really isn’t much like I thought it would be, and it’s nothing like tv. And I bitch and moan, but I like it most days, depending on what’s going on. I’ve thought about what I’d trade it for, but I’m not sure what compares.

I hated being a lawyer, for many of the reasons Campion just described, although I knew from the first week of law school I was making a huge mistake. I escaped after about a year of practice, and I’m on my way to becoming a full-fledged librarian. I love it, but there is no “status” involved. Too many people still think librarians just shelve books or sit around and read all day, or that we’re volunteers with no formal schooling or training.

Insurance actuary. People think it’s all babes & glamor, but the reality involves a lot of dull hours sitting behind a computer.

What’s that? People THINK it’s dull hours behind a computer? Oh, well, never mind then.

Ooooh that’s a good one. I was catering a lunch for a drug rep one day and he commented that he was thinking about quitting the drug rep thing and going into catering. Something about making a ton of money.
Alot of chefs seem to feel that way as well. I’ve heard at least two chefs talk about opening thier own restaurant becuase they’re tired of making other people rich.
Sorry folks, owning a business may have it’s advantages but it’s a ton of hard work.

I’ll have to say Interior Decorators.

I worked in the paint industry for a few years and came to find out that these are the most ignorant, uninformed, pretentious , pushy, overpaid bunch of assholes I’ve ever had to work with. I could do they’re job. Wait, I did do they’re job. On the upside though , most of them were fairly attractive.

When you spend most of your day around dirty contractors, any eye-candy is a good thing. Even if it is dumb and bitchy.

I’m thinking of a family friend of ours, who is a retired pro hockey player, who actually played on a couple of Stanley Cup-winning teams. He was never a big star on the level of, say, Howe, Gretzky, or Lemieux; but he was a hockey star nonetheless, and today’s hockey fans would know his name. True, he played at a time when salaries and contracts were not as big as they are today, but some owners were just as greedy and stingy as today’s, so perhaps it’s all relative.

Anyway, it did not sound like a very glamorous life. Constant travel during the season, very little time at home, and most of what non-playing time there was, was taken up with practices. Constant crowd noise in the hockey arenas over numerous seasons eventually damaged his hearing. Depending on whether his team made the playoffs, there would be between six and eight months a year of this. The rest of the time was his, but there was the question of what to do with it. Golf gets old quickly, and our friend liked to be busy. He got into business at these times; he owned a couple of fast-food franchises and worked in them, worked on his farm (actually made a little extra selling his produce at market) and occasionally, sold cars. He’s never regretted anything he’s done, but he has mentioned about some hard times caused by bad business advice and questionable negotiations supposedly undertaken “on his behalf.” Overall, he’s been pretty happy, but it wasn’t all roses and sunshine, obviously.

The big-name guys may get the attention and the money, but if this was the life of an “ordinary” pro athlete, a hard worker and a team player, it doesn’t sound too appealing.

Hmmm…if your friends are giving out meds, I doubt they are psychologists. I am, we don’t prescribe (in most states), and I think I have the best job in the world. Psychiatrists, on the other hand, who do prescribe, have IMHO much lower quality of life. They have to see 25+ patients a day (compared to my six to eight) and often do little but hand out meds.

I enjoy being an Architect, but it is nothing like it is portrayed in the movies or on TV shows. Otherwise my wife is going to be pissed that we don’t have an Alice as a cook in our house like the Brady Bunch! No private secretary like in Towering Inferno. No beautiful clients throwing themselves at my feet…wait okay scratch the last one :slight_smile:

I enjoy the combination of science and art in my profession, but the vast majority of my time is spent dealing with process and isn’t as artistic as most people seem to assume. I do get to travel a fair amount, but even that isn’t as exciting as I thought it would be when I was younger—in fact it is probably the least enjoyable aspect of my job these days.

I can’t personally complain about the money–I am not starving, but when you compare my salary to similar professionals, for the same or less education it could be frustrating if you let it get to you. But I keep it in perspective, because I actually enjoy what I do–and many of the Doctors, Lawyers, etc I know don’t seem to enjoy what they do. So money obviously isn’t everything.

I do feel most people respect what I do, which I don’t think many professions can claim.