Wednesday, May 22, 2013

One of the fastest growing professions

Academia seems like this giant uprooted tree

What is one of the fastest growing professions in US?
Let us see what Google search comes up with.

Here is a list of 50 fastest growing occupations.
I did some counting there. For the first two fastest growing (= finding job) required education level is less than high school. 16 requires high school diploma, 2 some kind of post-secondary and 6 Associate degree ( I do not know what the difference is). 10 on this list asks for Bachelors, 5 for Masters, and 5 for professional or Doctoral degree...

Another list - 30 fastest growing jobs by 2016.
May be because this list was done in Boston, average education requirements are a little bit higher but still 2 of the fastest growing jobs does not require high school diploma, 5 out of 30 does require high school diploma, high school plus 2 more years will be useful for 7 out of 30, this list predicts that bachelors will be needed for 9, masters for 5 and only one job - veterinarian will require post graduate education.

The list of fastest growing jobs by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the fastest growing need will be
1. Personal care aides2010 employment: 861,000
2020 projection: 1,468,000
Percent growth: 70.5
Median annual wage (2010): $19,640

Education requirement is less than high school diploma.

U.S. News 100 best jobs in 2013 does not mention on the list neither mathematician or college professor. But those two do appear on a list WSJ 2013  best and worst jobs : university professor as #14 and mathematician as #18. On a list of the worst jobs janitor is three steps higher than author (#153 and #156 out of 200).

However in none of these lists I found Adjunct Professor. If you are not familiar with academia closely then you would say - why bother looking through all these lists, it's under the general term - University Professor.

According Concord Monitor adjunct professor is one of the fastest growing and most poorly-paid occupations in America. According to the American Association of University Professors, while a full professor at a public university with a doctorate earns $120,000 per year plus benefits, an adjunct, even one with a doctorate and a full course load, makes $20,000 with no benefits. (Janitor's median salary is slightly over 22K). Few earn what could be considered a living wage, yet adjuncts now teach more than 70 percent of all college courses.

I wanted to write about the life of an adjunct in university for quite some time. It felt to me that people should know how it is. In my talks I have met many people and only those who are adjuncts themselves or have a family member or a friend who is an adjunct, really understand the situation.

Recently a very good article went viral on Internet - Academias indentured servants by Sarah Kendzior where she wrote:
Is academia a cult? That is debatable, but it is certainly a caste system. Outspoken academics  are rare: most tenured faculty have stayed silent about the adjunct crisis. "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it," wrote Upton Sinclair, the American author famous for his essays on labour exploitation. Somewhere in America, a tenured professor may be teaching his work, as a nearby adjunct holds office hours out of her car.
 What stuck with me most from this article was:
"It is easy to make people work for less than they are worth when they are conditioned to feel worthless."It is easy to make people work for less than they are worth when they are conditioned to feel worthless"
Worthless - it is familiar feeling. You may be surprised hearing it from me. I am not working for less, I am often expected to work for free - because people think that I am well paid university professor.  I am officially retired but I am too young for Social Security. I am lucky - I do have a husband who supports me and hyperbolic crochet. But it does not help in fighting off a feeling of being worthless. My job is unpaid and therefore - worthless, which makes me feel a failure. Writing Crocheting Adventures with the Hyperbolic Planes was possible because of the support of my husband and some of my own money earned when I was lucky to get some calculus courses to teach. ( I am not joking when I say that I have to teach calculus to have money to buy yarn for my crocheted hyperbolic planes.) I was very proud when learned about the Euler Prize for my book. I decided to use an opportunity to speak about adjuncts in my response. There were several people who later came up to me to say "Thank you for talking about adjuncts."  At that point I did not know that later in the same year there will be more talks in media about adjuncts. I missed them because I was in Latvia to take care of my mother for a long period.
Now I looked up some of them.

Last year Sarah Kendzior already published an article The closing of American Academia. At the end of it she wrote:
 I struggle with the limited opportunities in academia for Americans like me, people for whom education was once a path out of poverty, and not a way into it.
My father, the first person in his family to go to college, tries to tell me my degree has value. "Our family came here with nothing," he says of my great-grandparents, who fled Poland a century ago. "Do you know how incredible it is that you did this, how proud they would be?"And my heart broke a little when he said that, because his illusion is so touching - so revealing of the values of his generation, and so alien to the experience of mine.

Here are some more attempts to raise awareness about adjuncts and the situation in higher education:

The PhD now comes with food stamps

A number of PhD on public aide has tripled

Why so many PhD's are on food stamps from NPR

The Crisis in Higher Education

The Caste System in Higher Education

It is late already, enough for tonight. One day I may be brave enough to write my own story how it feels to be adjunct...

update October 1 (well, late update - sorry)
here is  infografik about the adjunct crisis by John Kelle:

<a href=""><img src="" alt="Un-Hired Ed: The Growing Adjunct Crisis" width="500"  border="0" /></a><br />Source: <a href=""></a>