National Coffee Day: Highly Stressed Scientists Win

By Bridget Quigg

Steamy, alluring and refreshing, coffee starts most workers’ engines each morning. It helps us think brilliant thoughts and actually interact with workmates before noon. For one group of professionals, though, the highest coffee consumers on the job, it may be the difference between fuctioning or not. On National Coffee Day, we take a look at what drives these java lovers to drink… coffee.

Celebrated in the US every year on September 29th, National Coffee Day promises a free cup of joe at various food stops, like 7-11 and Krispy Kreme, as well as a opportunity to honor this powerful drink.

How much do you depend on coffee to function at work? One career causes dependence more often than any other, according to a recent study. Your guess? Despite their donut and coffee-chugging reputation, cops didn’t manage a win. They weren’t even in the top five.

And the winner is…

The winning career may surprise you. Tucked in the darkest corners of research facilities, working through the night to finish experiments, deprived of sleep and sunlight, these folks produce breakthroughs in medicine, engineering and more. All hail the scientists! They have taken their place as the most coffee-dependent workers around.

We dug into our PayScale database and did some research on scientists. It turns out that you cannot blame them for being so addicted to regular mood and mind improvment. They report being some of the most  stressed workers around. Plus, their pay isn’t all that great.

To be clear, well-paid scientists with Ph.D.s, like physicists and materials scientists could do without the joe. They report low stress and high satisfaction. They also benefit from more pay than those without Ph.D.s, physicists averaging $88,300 per year in earnings, while material scientists rake in about $81,600 per year.

By comparison, environmental scientists, food scientists, biologists and chemists with bachelor’s degrees (those likely doing the hardest work in the lab) are pulling grades like C, D+ and F for on-the-job stress in PayScale’s survey. They also earn much less than scientists with doctorates, their pay ranging between $44,800 to $55,800 per year.

Can you imagine standing over long rows of tests tubes, timing reactions and knowing that, if you don’t do your work exactly right, hours of your time will have been wasted and you’ll need to start over with nothing to show for your efforts? How about having all this happening at midnight or 2 a.m. when you’re tired and grumpy? These are realities that scientists must face fairly often.

They are not alone with their stress levels and caffeine needs. Other careers that report serious coffee dependence, according the study.

1. Marketing and public relations professionals

2. Education administrators

3. Editors and writers

4. Healthcare administrators and physicians

We’ll finish with more salary information about our champs for the day, scientists:

Clinical Laboratory Scientist

Clinical Research Scientist – Gender Breakdown

Environmental Scientist – Pay by City


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