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Income v. Vocabulary
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February 05, 2011, 03:58 AM
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The Audacious Epigone has a fun table of average incomes relative to vocabulary skills for a whole bunch of occupations. Not surprisingly, Author is the worst paid relative to size of vocabulary. Next worst is Librarian. When I was in the marketing research business, I always suggested to the Human Resources department that they try to hire away librarians, if they could find some with at least modest quantitative skills/orientation. Marketing research doesn`t pay well, but it pays better than being a librarian, and the skills and personalities required to be a successful worker bee are similar in the two fields.

The numbers are in IQ points relative to income (assuming that the General Social Survey`s ten word vocabulary test is a decent measure of IQ, which is reasonably true, but obviously has weaknesses for quantitative jobs). Thus, doctors make money as if they are 44.1 IQ points smarter than they are. At the top of the list are:

Occupation Diff
1. Physician 44.1
2. Dentist 29.8
3. Commercial airline pilot 19.3
4. Pharmacist 17.4
5. Attorney 13.4
6. Farmer 10.4
7. Economist 10.3
8. Bricklayer 9.7
9. Telephone installer and repairer 9.6
10. Sheet metal worker 9.0
11. Civil engineer 8.2
12. Butcher 8.2
Doctors make a lot of money in America these days.

I vaguely recall that dentists went through a spell when they weren`t making as much because fluoride ruined their cavity-drilling business, but they seem to have rebounded with a lot of cosmetic offerings. Orthodontist is a great job — regular hours and the pay is kept high through a dental school cartel. Being a dentist is like being a specialized surgeon, so it takes eye-hand coordination.

Airlines have been trying to crush the salaries of pilots forever, but in crunch time it`s still useful to have a Captain Sullenberger at the controls. Is it a good job? Pilots have to travel a lot (duh) and the hours are weird.

Pharmacists have to spend a lot of time on their feet, they often have weird hours, and they have to have good memories.