View Full Version : Good money, bad career move

February 25th, 2005, 08:51 PM
Fri 25 Feb 2005

Good money . . bad career move


WITH their hefty wage packets, power and prestige, lawyers would appear to have a lot to be happy about.

But a new survey has revealed legal eagles are amongst the most miserable workers in Britain.

A massive 95 per cent say they are unhappy at work.

For the happiest people, according to the research, are none other than hairdressers.

They certainly donít have the salary or standing of a lawyer. But their hair is, generally speaking, pretty fabulous. So no bad hair days there.

Whatever it is, lawyers are not the only professionals working in traditionally well-thought-of careers who have admitted to being completely disillusioned with their jobs.

Architects, with their professional status and power to transform our citiesí landscapes, are the most unhappy workers with only two per cent cheery about heading into the office. That puts them on the same level as traditional hard-pressed, over-worked and stressed-out social workers

And anyone who thinks interior designers get to breezily waft in and out of the office in a cloud of colour co-ordinated clothes can think again - just nine per cent said they were happy in their jobs, according to the survey of 1200 people by qualifications body City & Guilds.

Travel agents and teachers were also below the ten per cent mark when it comes to satisfaction in their chosen career.

According to the survey, theyíd be much happier as chefs, plumbers or members of the clergy - all of which scored far higher.

As Chris Humphries, director general of City & Guilds, says: "Nowadays, true job satisfaction and happiness is about fulfilling your full potential, tapping into your own creativity and feeling that you can make a difference.

"More people than ever are swapping their desk-bound jobs for a vocation that enables them to be hands-on, use their brains and be in charge of their own destiny.

"As we spend so much time at work, itís important that we enjoy what we do and build on the skills that weíre good at."

So what exactly is wrong with those jobs which sound so impressive on paper? Five Edinburgh professionals reveal the downside to what are supposed to be desirable jobs.

After nearly a decade teaching, Rob McDougall quit after becoming increasingly disillusioned by the reality of the profession.

The 35-year-old says: "One of the main reasons I got into teaching was because I wanted to make a difference. I think to a certain extent you can, but in reality the time which you spend with the children is quite small compared to the time they spend with outside influences.

"At my last school Iíd say about half the kids came from single parent families. I ended up feeling more like a social worker than a teacher. I spent a lot of my time giving parenting skills advice to parents, which I found quite difficult - Iím not a parent."

He also felt that parents were very aware of their rights, but not of their responsibilities, adding: "A lot of parents want someone to blame for their kids going off the rails.

"As a teacher, you are in the firing line."

While many people view teaching as an easy option with endless holidays, the reality again is quite different: "People think itís a 9am to 3.30pm job. Itís not. A lot of preparation goes on before and after [the school day] . A lot of teachers work every night."

After nine years teaching the same subjects to the same age groups, boredom also kicked in.

While many workers plod on in their disatisfying jobs, Rob ditched teaching to become a photographer - and hasnít looked back since.

He says: "I really like the creativity of being a photographer, and the pressure of working to deadlines."

A 26-year-old city lawyer complains her salary does not justify the monotonous drudgery the "well-paid, glamorous profession" turned out to be.

She says: "I saw law as a good, solid career with a good salary. But when you get into it you realise that itís not all itís cracked up to be.

"When I tell people what I do, Iím still proud that I am doing something which people recognise as an admirable career and it still seems more glamorous than a business manager, but essentially Iíd probably prefer to do that.

"I make hundreds of thousands of pounds for financial institutions. Itís very dry and boring. Thereís no fulfilment."

After spending seven years to become qualified to practice and working as a qualified lawyer for two years she feels her £30,000 salary is not enough to justify the long hours: "I know that £30,000 is a good salary for someone my age but not in comparison to other professions."

I read that the average salary of a dentist is £47,000.

"I work ten or 12 hour days quite often."

She started with high hopes of changing Edinburghís impressive skyline, but a couple of years spent at her desk constantly redrawing plans to meet stringent planning regulations was enough for one 35-year-old architect who has since joined a completely different profession.

She says: "The course was very design-orientated, which was what appealed to me. But in reality, working in small offices the job was much more technical. There was not a lot of opportunity to be creative.

"The problem in Edinburgh is there are a lot of listed buildings here, which means that there are a lot of constraints on design.

"Surveyors and engineers would keep sending plans back saying Ďchange this or thatĎ. I worked on projects for housing associations or shops."

Even architects in larger firms do not necessarily get the chance to use their creative flair: "A lot of architects on bigger projects are only given one part of a building to design. They might spend a year working on a stairway, although thatís probably a bit of an exaggeration."

While many again believe that architects, who undergo seven years of training, are well paid, she says that her experience did not reflect that: "When I qualified I was only on £12,000. That was ten years ago, but to put it in perspective, when I changed to a job I was not qualified for at the time my salary went up."

And she has no regrets about her change of career for a job in a caring profession: "Obviously there are still some frustrations, but part of the reason I left architecture in the end was that I did not feel I was really helping anyone and that went against the grain for me.

"I needed to be in a profession where I was helping people more, and I do feel more rewarded in the job I do now."

One 40-year-old travel agent in the Capital explains why her job can be a world away from the jetsetting lifestyle people imagine.

"One thing that annoys a lot of travel agents is when people come in and we spend a couple of hours with them, free of charge, doing all the shopping around to save them money and then the next thing they go away and book their holiday on the internet.

"That is soul destroying."

Like many, it was the lure of globetrotting that attracted her to the job in the first place. But although she has travelled the world testing out holiday packages it is not all good. "We do get to travel, but it is not a holiday as such - you are told where you are going and what you are doing."

And while she works for a small independent firm, she says staff at high street chain travel agents often work under strict conditions. "Some of the bigger travel agents are a bit regimental, I think. Staff get told when to dust the plants and things!"

One 25-year-old Edinburgh interior designer says some people want her to make over their lives as well as their homes.

"I got into interior design four years ago because I wanted to help people to make their homes a nicer place but when you go to someoneís home, or they come to you to discuss what they want, you get to know them quite well and they will tell you about their lives, including their problems with their children, or their husband, etc.

"You can end up being more of a marriage guidance counsellor, when really you want nothing to do with their problems at all."

Clients, especially those who watch home makeover TV shows like Changing Rooms, can also be very demanding. "You have to pander to the clientís every whim, which can be very wearing.

"People have unrealistic expectations about what can be done and how much it will cost. In truth this work takes a long time and costs a lot of money."

How happy are you?

1 Hairdressers 40%
2 Clergy 24%
3 Chefs/cooks 23%
4 Beauticians 22%
5 Plumbers 20%
6 Mechanics 20%
7 Builders 20%
8 Electricians 18%
9 Florists 18%
10 Fitness instructors 18%
11 Care assistants 18%
12 Health care professionals 17%
13 Media 16%
14 Chartered engineers 15%
15 Pharmacists 15%
16 Scientists/R&D 15%
17 Butchers 14%
18 DJs 13%
19 Interior designers 9%
20 Travel agents 9%
21 Teachers 8%
22 Bankers 8%
23 Accountants 7%
24 IT specialists 5%
25 Lawyers 5%
26 Secretaries 5%
27 Estate agents 4%
28 Civil servants 3%
29 Architects 2%
30 Social workers 2%

http://news.scotsman.com/features.cfm?id=213232005 (http://news.scotsman.com/features.cfm?id=213232005)