My job sucks?
A rambling by Tom Knapp

Being a newspaper reporter is the worst job in the world.

Before my editor comes over for a meaningful conversation, let me explain that's not my opinion, but the findings of a study, released in April, that ranked 200 professions and put newspaper reporter at the very bottom -- one step below lumberjack.

Well, that's riveting.


Newspaper reporter ranks No. 200. Lumberjack -- you know, chopping down trees and, at least in my imagination, riding logs down a raging river -- stands proudly at 199.

Enlisted military personnel rank 198 -- small thanks for putting their lives on the line in foreign lands. Rank has few privileges, apparently; military general ranks a mere 180.

This list was compiled by, which rated jobs based on five criteria: physical demands, work environment, income, stress and hiring outlook, all compiled using data from government sources such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It's hard to imagine how the criteria were ranked in any empirical way. I mean, one person's plush work environment is another person's purgatory, right?

Take your lumberjack -- you have to guess people in that line of work love the great outdoors, leaping from tree to tree with joyful abandon. Would your average tree-chopper be happier in a cubicle, entering data on a Dell? I doubt it. He'd miss the mighty oaks and redwoods, to say nothing of the friendly moose and squirrels.

Any way I look at it, I have to think this list is subjective. Author ranks No. 156 -- cool job, sure, but where's the security? Compare that to welder at 158, janitor at 153 and real estate agent at 152.

Senior corporate executive is No. 155? Wait, aren't they the guys who put America in an economic slump? Aren't they all rolling in dough?

Let's cast our eyes higher on the list and see where the cushy occupations are.

Plumber ranks high at No. 66, followed by nuclear decontamination technician and loan officer. No. 56 is archeologist -- that's what I wanted to be when I was a kid, but my plans were derailed by a taste of sixth-grade journalism.

We've got bricklayer at 53, surgeon at 51, accountant at 47 and skin care specialist at 43. None of those sound fun to me, and one sounds icky.

At the top of the list, we have financial planner at No. 5, then audiologist, software engineer, biomedical engineer and, the king of the careers, actuary.

Actuaries, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal -- by one of those underpaid, unappreciated journalists -- "put a financial value on risk -- for instance, the chances of a hurricane destroying a beachfront home or the long-term liabilities of a pension system." Tony Lee, publisher of, says the profession is booming, although there's a shortage of them, so the pay is rising.

The median salary for actuaries in 2010, according to the Labor Department, was $87,650. I'll admit, that sounds pretty good. The median salary for reporters that year was $36,000.

Well, nuts, maybe they have a point.

But no. I have the best job in the world.

I spend my days meeting people, talking to folks about what they do, the issues that concern them, things that matter to their communities.

I get to write for a living. I tell stories. I straddle the line between current events and history.

And every day is different. I never tell the same story twice. Tell me that doesn't beat cutting trees or predicting the chance a meteor will strike a luxury townhouse.

Heck, I just got paid to write this.

This job rocks.

by Tom Knapp
18 May 2013