Where I mix career information and career decision making in a test tube and see what happens

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Skill-Income Relationship, Part 3

In my previous two blogs, I discussed the statistical relationship between 35 skills and the earnings of various occupations. In the first of these, I analyzed the relationship as I calculated it for close to 1,000 occupations. In the more recent of the two, I restricted the analysis to only those requiring a bachelor’s degree, and I found some significant differences in how the 35 skills ranked in terms of their monetary payoff. This time, I’m considering only those occupations that normally require a graduate or professional degree, so (as in the previous blog’s subset) difference in the worker’s level of education is not a factor that affects the payoff of the worker’s skills when workers in different occupations are compared.

This graduate/professional group includes among its highest-paying occupations several job titles for medical doctors, plus other highly-paid health-care occupations, such as Nurse Anesthetists, Podiatrists, and Prosthodontists. It also includes many kinds of scientists (both natural and social) and many postsecondary teaching occupations.

In the leftmost column of the table below, you can see the correlations I found.  In the second column from the right is the rank that each skill achieved when I computed the correlations for all occupations. And in the rightmost column is the rank when I looked at only bachelor’s-level occupations. These two columns at the right allow you to make easy comparisons to the tables in the previous two blogs.


Corre- lation
Skill
Rank for All Occupa-tions
Rank for Bachelor's- Level Occupa-tions
0.52
Judgment and Decision Making
2
5
0.45
Operation Monitoring
29
17
0.44
Operation and Control
33
33
0.43
Complex Problem Solving
1
2
0.42
Equipment Selection
32
30
0.41
Troubleshooting
31
18
0.41
Critical Thinking
4
13
0.39
Science
14
23
0.37
Quality Control Analysis
28
19
0.33
Reading Comprehension
5
21
0.30
Coordination
19
16
0.29
Service Orientation
26
34
0.29
Time Management
9
11
0.25
Operations Analysis
12
6
0.25
Management of Personnel Resources
16
9
0.24
Active Learning
3
10
0.21
Technology Design
27
15
0.18
Monitoring
7
12
0.18
Equipment Maintenance
35
29
0.17
Management of Financial Resources
23
4
0.16
Management of Material Resources
24
8
0.15
Persuasion
18
22
0.14
Repairing
34
31
0.14
Active Listening
10
25
0.11
Mathematics
20
7
0.10
Negotiation
22
24
0.09
Social Perceptiveness
21
35
0.06
Systems Evaluation
6
3
0.03
Systems Analysis
8
1
0.01
Installation
30
28
0.01
Instructing
15
20
-0.07
Programming
25
14
-0.15
Speaking
13
27
-0.22
Writing
11
26
-0.24
Learning Strategies
17
32


In the following comments I make about the correlations, please understand that I am discussing various occupations only in terms of their skills and their salaries. I am not making overall value judgments about the occupations. If I mention that counseling occupations (for example) are comparatively low-paid within this subset, that does not mean that I do not hold counseling occupations in low regard. Monetary rewards are only one reason that people show up for work in the morning.

As in the tables in the previous two blogs, some cerebral skills—Judgment and Decision Making, Complex Problem Solving, and Critical Thinking—continue to appear high in the table. But it is startling to see how much three other skills—Operation Monitoring, Operation and Control, and Equipment Selection—get boosted compared to their rankings in the two previous blogs. My guess is that in the context of this subset of occupations, these skills are associated not with low-paid mechanical jobs but rather with very highly-paid health-care occupations. The “operations” that are going on are medical procedures, and the “equipment” being selected is health-care tools such as scalpels, dental drills, and heart-lung machines. The grad/prof workers who don’t use these skills tend to be college professors and various kinds of counselors, who are comparatively low-paid in this subset.

One other skill that can be considered basically mechanical—Installation—ranks about as low here as it does in the previous two blogs, and Repairing ranks only slightly higher.

It’s noteworthy that the managerial skills, which rose in the ranks among bachelor’s-level occupations, fall back down in the rankings here. (Besides the skills with “Management” in their title, I would include Systems Evaluation and Systems Analysis among managerial skills.) There are several well-paid managerial occupations at the bachelor’s level, but at the grad/prof level the managerial tasks are mostly handed off to workers with less education, and those grad/prof occupations that do involve a fair amount of managerial tasks—e.g., Librarians, Curators, and Farm and Home Management Advisors—are comparatively low-paid for this subset.

Several of the skills that are associated with college faculty—e.g., Instructing, Speaking, and Writing—rank among the lowest in this table, just as many of the college-teaching occupations rank among the lower-paid in this subset. (College teaching was once my career goal, but with insights I gained with the help of the recently deceased Richard Nelson Bolles, I set off in a different direction.)

It’s a bit surprising to find Mathematics ranking as low as it does here, considering how much of this skill is needed to get through the educational programs for many highly-paid health-care occupations, but evidently the practitioners do not use much high-level mathematics on the job. This contrasts sharply with the bachelor’s-level subset, where the skill is used at a high level by well-paid managerial and engineering occupations. Science, on the other hand, remains fairly high up in the table above.

Programming here ranks even lower than it did among all occupations.  Evidently the highly-paid workers in the grad/prof subset use programming, like mathematics, only at a fairly low level. It ranks much higher among the bachelor’s-level occupations, where it is a key skill among certain well-paid technical occupations.

Service Orientation ranks only slightly above the middle of the grad/prof table, but here it is notably higher than in either of the previous two blogs. Among all occupations, it is associated with low-paid jobs in the service sector. Among the grad/prof occupations, however, its association with health-care professions helps boost it, although its association with counseling occupations drags it down somewhat.

If anyone reading this blog wants to share reactions or would like a copy of the source data, feel free to write me at Laurence@myself.com.

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