Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Day in the life of - a teacher, engineer, and paramedic

Colleagues often ask me what a typical day was like when I worked as an engineer (I was an engineer for 10 years before becoming an educator). I was also a paramedic for over 20 years, mostly part time, but did work full time at it for one year. I'm in my 10th year of teaching.

So, I decided to do a comparison of a typical day in the life of each of the three careers.


0800-0900 - arrive at work. We had flex time and would just have to leave 8 1/2 hours later.
Turn on computer. Say hi to co-workers, check schedule and task list for day. Get some coffee and breakfast from the cafeteria (excellent food).
Work on projects throughout the day. Had about 1 - 2 hours of meetings a day between team meetings, updating boss, and other meetings.
For lunch, I could eat at the cafeteria or go out to one of many places nearby.
Continue working on projects in the afternoon. I could be working on a design, calling suppliers and contractors, collaborating with other engineers, or even in the manufacturing area.
If I had to go to the bathroom, I just went. No need to wait for class to end. The bathrooms were very nice and clean too.
The building was climate controlled so it was comfortable all year long.
Occasionally we would have to work late, but we got paid overtime for anything over 45 hours a week (so only 5 hours "free").
When I left work, I had nothing to bring home to work on. I couldn't anyway since it was all secure.
If I wanted to take a class or needed training, it was provided for me at no cost during the workday.
Company paid for advanced degrees 100% and awarded you company stock when you received degree.
Always had all materials, supplies and equipment needed to do job.
In 2001, I was making more than I make now as a 10th year teacher with a Master's Degree.

Arrive at work about 20 min before shift starts.
Sign out gear and radio, check all equipment, supplies, and mechanical on ambulance.
Sign on radio with dispatch and get first assignment.
We did not sit in stations, we posted on street corners based on call volume.
When we had to go to the bathroom or get a meal, we went somewhere in our posting area.
Dispatch would page us and call us on the radio to assign calls to us. We would respond, treat the patient and transport to the hospital, complete paperwork and restocking of ambulance and then get another assignment.
About 30 min before the end of our shift we would get sent back to the headquarters to clean, restock, wash the ambulance and file our paperwork and go home.
Of course, there are plenty of times where it is so busy you don't get a chance to get a meal and more times than not I did not get out on time. But, we got paid overtime for any extra time we worked.
Required training was provided by the service and we got paid for it. CME's (medical equivalent of CEU's) were on our own.
When my shift was over, I went home with no work to do.


Arrive at school early to get set up, organize room and activities for the day. Eat breakfast in car on way in.
Teach all day, running to the bathroom in between classes, eating lunch in 25 minutes.
Run to copier and hope it works and there isn't a line of other teachers trying to copy it.
Deal with student issues, interruptions, lack of supplies and equipment.
Take work home with me every day without extra pay.
Training and advanced degrees on my own, paid by me.
Go home exhausted. Go to store and buy materials for school with my own money.

Quite a difference. I love being a teacher, but having been in other careers, it's really hard to swallow the whole "teachers make too much, get summers off and have easy jobs" garbage that many people still blab about. Our jobs are very challenging, tiring, and require us to do a lot outside of our normal work hours, including spending our own money on classroom supplies.

So, what are your experiences with different jobs?


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