Better ROI in fast food than academia?

October 22, 2013

A tenured history and science professor at the University of Texas at Austin in a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article asks the question: “what if instead of attending college I had worked at McDonald’s?” Alberto A. Martinez compares the wages of a McDonald’s employee, who works his way up from cashier to restaurant manager within 25 years, to those of a tenured professor. At McDonald’s, Martinez calculates, one could make $581,450 (before deductions) in 25 years. Martinez’s actual total gross income in 25 years was $609,413, an average annual gross income of $24,866. While the professor scenario makes more money, Martinez points out that when it comes to hourly pay, the McDonald’s employee scenario would be worth more money because professors work up to 60 hours per week on an annual salary, while the McDonald’s employees work fewer hours and are paid hourly. Chronicle of Higher Education