I'm not usually one to shy away from controversy as many friends and colleagues will tell you. Please excuse me while I let off a little steam. Today I saw a post in my G+ feed indicating that the No. 1 Worst Master's Degree for getting a job is ... mine.
PayScale. Hm. I know they are a viable business, but it still makes me touchy that they claim to have "individual employee compensation profiles." (From the PayScale About page.) So much for my salary being between me, my employer and the government. Even anonymized that makes me testy. So here's my problem with this data point: I know I haven't shared my salary with categorization outside of family, and I don't think they've been talking to PayScale. My employers could almost never get me categorized right, so, um, yeah.... no. HR folks typically have no idea what to do with me. I've always had an HR classification and a separate "call yourself whatever feels right" public job title. I have strong doubts over the comprehensiveness and accuracy of this profile based on HR provided, anonymized data. Plus, I've made more since becoming a consultant, so using my degree information with salary loses a lot of data from smaller companies like mine that aren't providing info to PayScale. (Note to self: look into PayScale. Much deeper!)
And then there's the government. Let's not think about the selling, leaking, or 'oops' kinds of things that happen with our data. Let's focus on the Bureau of Labor Statistics for a moment. I've been a research librarian. I've used this data in a variety of fields of study. These classifications are fairly narrow. And could probably benefit from the aide of someone with a Master's in Library and Information Science. (I mean really, under "Librarians" it says "See: Librarians". I kid you not.) Again I say to you - I don't fit into any of these definitions of Librarian. When I'm forced to classify myself using a government classification scheme I have to make a best guess. As far as I know, they don't have my exact degree in a financially related system. (Hello - Data.gov folks, any insight here? Opportunity?!) Did the folks at Forbes look at forgotten BLS reports in these fields to make sure their data was complete? I doubt it, as what appears on the very last page of the report on Librarians: Information experts in the information age, in the section "What else can you do with a library degree?", appear things like "CIO," "Database Administration," "Content Managers," "Taxonomists," and "Webmasters." I think those careers might push that average mid-career salary up a bit. Unfortunately BLS doesn't list taxonomist, ontologist, metadata (anything), content manager; and they have several ways of considering CIO, webmaster and database admins. I could probably squeeze myself into one of several of these. Bit of confusion there.
Dear Forbes - if you're going to do anything negative, might I suggest being thorough, and not looking for a quick gallery fix? Disturbingly light on the analysis. I used to expect so much more of you. Yeah, yeah - snapshot. I got it.
Dear Library and Information Science grads and students - ignore this. I promise you that if you want a higher salary in a career that makes use of your advanced degree, you can get it if you work hard. I'm proof positive.