Reading some US job ads I came across the terms “early career”, “mid career” and “late career” applied to academics. As some of you may remember, I decided about this time last year that I had become officially middle-aged (defined as “closer to 50 than 20”). Now it’s struck me that I am also mid-career.
Think about it. I’ve been doing archaeology for a living since I was 20. Standard retirement age is 65 in Sweden. (This is likely to change as medicine improves and the demography morphs.) Currently, society expects me to have a 45-year career, all in all. And I’ve entered the middle third of that span. I’ve done more than a third of the archaeology I’ll manage before 65.
From my elevated mid-career position in Scandy archaeology, I can report to colleagues still in their early careers that things are pretty much the same. Still a lot of fun, still no steady job. One change that I do see (though I’m generalising from a slim set of observations) is that the grants tend to grow with the years.