Are academics really so hard done by?

It seems every week there is another article about how hard done by academics are. Poor pay, lowsy hours, being on call 24/7, the list goes on.

The thing is, is this any different to other professions?

We are always hearing that in the private sector we’d get paid more. If that’s your primary concern, go work in the private sector. The pay ain’t bad. My first job out of my PhD paid ¬£19k 10 years ago. Postdocs and Lecturer A’s are on 30k now.

Sure, you have to be available 24/7. But there are very successful academics that turn off their email between 5 and 9am, and on weekends. They don’t seem to suffer. What I think we aren’t willing to face up to is that we WANT to check our email constantly. We’ve become addicted to being connected. Deprive an academic of wifi and watch them start to twitch….

What I will say in defense, is that we seem to be expected to be experts on things that we have no training on. Ever tried assessing a UCAS application when you didn’t go through the UK educational system? Financial reports? Benchmarking? Web page design? Costing your own grant? And much much more. A few years ago there use to be support staff to do these things or train you. Now, you are expected to do these things with no training and be good at it right from the get go.

Basically, we have it quite good. Unlike many other professions, we get to do what we are passionate about and we can decide how to structure our day to a certain degree. Whenever I feel the need to moan about my job I think of people working 9-5 and being told what to do and when….I think I would slit my throat if I had to do that.

So, if you have the passion and the temperament, academia is perfect for you. Just accept that there is a lot of crap that you also have to do (but what profession doesn’t have this?). Find some way to get something back from it, even if it is just an inner glow for a job well done, because no-one else is going to tell you well done.

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