Hey, guess what? Even The Chronicle of Higher Education agrees that composition and rhetoric PhDs have a better chance of getting a job that folks in (for example) literature. See “Anticipating Offers by Maxwell “not his real name” Fischer. Basically, Mr. Fischer is working right now on finishing up his degree and becoming Dr. Fischer, and he is assuming that he’s going to be getting a job as an assistant professor next year because he’s a specialist in composition and rhetoric.
For the most part, this essay is a big “duh, I knew that” sort of piece for anyone who is in composition and rhetoric. It is certainly something I’ve been writing about under the “Happy Academic” category of things for some time. But I will mention a couple of things:
* Mr. (soon to be Dr.) Fischer ought to not count his chickens before they hatch. He’ll probably get an offer, but the job market in comp and rhet has tightened up a tad in the last couple of years, I think. So he’ll probably be okay, but he might not get the job at the school or location that he wants, especially if he isn’t done with the dissertation and if he doesn’t have much else on his CV.
* At one point, Fischer writes:
“Some fellow graduate students in my field might be thinking, “Shhh! Don’t advertise the fact that there are more jobs than people to fill them!” Well, in my estimation, the field will benefit when more people are involved in teaching and research. With more people writing articles, presenting papers at conferences, and applying for jobs, each of us will have to work more diligently and become better as teachers and scholars.”
Don’t worry, Maxwell and “fellow grad students.” I too think it would be better if more people were involved in the teaching of writing, and I do think more people are going into comp/rhet nowadays, in part because there are jobs in it. However, writing instruction at all levels (not just fy comp) is one of those things that most academics agree is important, and, simultaneously, it is something that most academics don’t like to and/or don’t know how to teach. When you do something that people think is “important” but not desireable to actually do themselves, then you have job security.
Of course, “job security” isn’t the same thing as credibility, respect, decent pay, etc. Garbage collectors and house cleaners have job security, too. But that’s another post for a different time….