Monday, July 14, 2008

Christine Larson on Ghostwriting as a Career

Thanks to author/editor Laurence Shatkin for pointing me to this fun piece in the New York Times by Christine Larson. Larson was surprised to find ghostwriting on the U.S. News and World Report list of best careers for 2008. She gives an overview of her career without overglamorizing it (in fact, she refers to her career as "a pig in a prom dress" compared to the other jobs on the list). You can find out more interesting information about ghostwriting in U.S. News and World Report's detail page for that job (be sure to check out the links at the bottom of the article).

I will now express equal surprise that "editor" is also on the list. Here's the detail page on that one. Since JIST is in the business of putting out books that recommend the "best jobs" for everyone, a list like this always makes me ask: What criteria are they using to pick these jobs? Here's what they said:

  • Job satisfaction, defined as spending a high percentage of time on activities that many people would consider rewarding or pleasant.
  • Training difficulty, defined by the length of training typically required, adjusted by the amount of science and/or math involved.
  • Prestige, based on an informal survey of college-educated adults.
  • Job market outlook, based on data from the U.S. Department of Labor and professional organizations, with the career's resistance to being offshored considered.
  • Pay, with data provided by, which has an extensive database of individual employee compensation profiles.

So this looks like good news to me. The "informal survey" says my job is prestigious, and the Department of Labor says it's resistant to being offshored. Are they sure about that second one?


Laurence Shatkin said...

You mention that the high prestige rating given to editors was based on an "informal survey." As it happens, the National Opinion Research Center does a formal survey to determine occupational prestige, and "editors and reporters" get a rating of 51 on a 100-point scale. (In comparison, physicians get 82 and lawyers get 76.) O*NET gives editors a 3.87 rating for Social Status on a 1-to-5 scale. So maybe the job is not quite as prestigious as you might think. But it has other rewards that more than compensate!

Lori Cates Hand said...

Yeah, the people they talked to must have had Jackie O on the brain. :)