Is it true that there are more stressed engineers than any other professions?
I came across this joke about engineers and accountants, and I could not help but notice the shade on how engineers can be so ridiculously genius. The professionals involved could easily be anything but it had to be engineers and accountants.
Three engineers and three accountants are traveling by train to a conference. At the station, the three accountants each buy tickets and watch as the three engineers buy only a single ticket.
“How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?” asks an accountant. “Watch and you’ll see,” answers an engineer.
They all board the train. The accountants take their respective seats but all three engineers cram into a restroom and close the door behind them.
Shortly after the train has departed, the conductor comes around collecting tickets. He knocks on the restroom door and says, “Ticket, please.” The door opens just a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand.
The conductor takes it and moves on. The accountants saw this and agreed it was quite a clever idea.
So after the conference, the accountants decide to copy the engineers on the return trip and save some money (being clever with money, and all).
When they get to the station they buy a single ticket for the return trip. To their astonishment, the engineers don’t buy a ticket at all.
“How are you going to travel without a ticket?” says one perplexed accountant. “Watch and you’ll see,” answers an engineer.
When they board the train the three accountants cram into a restroom and the three engineers cram into another one nearby. The train departs.
Shortly afterwards, one of the engineers leaves his restroom and walks over to the restroom where the accountants are hiding. He knocks on the door and says, “Ticket, please.”
This joke might have painted the engineering profession in bad light – that we can get away with small acts of civil disobedience – but I would like to point out that it rather represents the idea that engineers are makers of ideas more than doers.
The fields of accountancy and engineering share a lot in terms of workers’ personality. Accountants and engineers belong to the Type C personality, when measured on a behavioral assessment tool created by Harvard graduate and PHD psychologist William Moulton Marston in 1928 called DISC. What this type of personality tells us is that both professions are usually analytical, gravitating towards process, structures, and rules. Accountants, when doing their work, rely on financial and marketing logic to make decisions; while engineers, when faced with design, systems, and plans, follow a technical criteria to ensure that the work is foolproof.
Both accounting and engineering are higher-paying jobs relative to other fields. Of course the salaries depend upon position and experience; but granting the same level, the pay is almost the same. Annually, engineers can earn from $40,000 to $120,000; and accountants can get a salary range between $39,000 and $109,000. Both career options are rewarding money-wise.
When it comes to subject matter, the two shares the same love: mathematics. There are lots of numbers involved in accounting work, which often revolves around the basic mathematical operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Some algebra is required for accountants to learn, but nothing more. On the other hand, engineers deal with complicated and advanced math subjects, far more than the accountants do. Engineering is basically a marriage of math and science – a match made in heaven (or hell, for that matter). It is a technical area of study that challenges the thinking and analyzing capacities of a human in order to solve problems and provide solutions using proven concepts.
Not only that, engineering focuses on work that is almost always visible and concrete rather than imaginary and abstract; so the pressure to deliver calculations and measurements correctly is higher, with outputs more critical. For accountants, an unbalanced balance sheet can be corrected right away with little to no inconvenience. At most, an accountant’s mistake could end with a lawsuit. But for engineers, a slight blunder in design or process could yield safety issues, or a catastrophe at worst – not only one man or woman will be affected in that blunder. Sometimes, it ends with a lawsuit as well. But definitely, engineers are exposed to a higher level of risk because of the physical nature of the job.
Moreover, engineers have the freedom of integrating art with work. Despite the common notion that the field is entirely technical, the truth is that the humanities could be used in engineering on certain bounds. While some art prove to be unnecessary and costly in engineering, there is a part that allows such, sometimes even needed. Accountants do not have that luxury, and instead work with no amour to the arts.
One more thing about engineering is the fact that the field is constantly evolving. New technologies and inventions are being developed everyday in all specializations, which means that anything, with sky as the limit, could be done within the physical laws. Perhaps this is the best convenience with engineering – the scope of work is not specifically defined, with an allowance for creativity. As long as a design, system, or any project is proven to work, the engineer contributes to the world no matter the scale. With accountants, that’s not the case. They are bound to perform tasks within the means of their subjects matter and no room to explore.
It is a no-brainer that accountants are indeed intelligent people. The work they do on a regular basis induces headaches, which only means that what their job is difficult. But engineers? Far more intelligent. Far more stressed. Far more challenged.