As a veteran Lighthouse Keeper who’s also a vocal advocate for the Lighthouse Keeping profession, I’ve received a barrage of recent queries all asking the same thing: should I go back to school and get my MLS (Master of Lighthouse Science)? Whether they are from folks looking for a new, “future proof” career, or humanities PhDs who can’t find a place in the overcrowded academic job market, or fresh-faced college graduates who have grown tired of life on land and wish to stare with existential longing at the sea while protecting the brave and hearty seafarers who traverse the wine-dark sea, it seems that Lighthouse Keeping is the profession du jour.
Sadly, despite the buzz around it, Lighthouse Keeping is simply NOT all it’s cracked up to be. I love my job, and I’ve dedicated my life and sanity to providing sailors safe passage, but I think it’s time to break down the myths and realities of Lighthouse Keeping.
1. Lighthouse Keeping is NOT a growing field
In fact, it’s a rapidly shrinking field. Some lighthouse experts predict that by 2030 lighthouses in developed countries will be entirely automated.
2. Lighthouse Keeping will make
you resentful of lighthouses
Sure, I get it: “I love lighthouses,” you say to yourself, “Why don’t I just live in and tend one for my job.” Sounds smart, but think about it this way: how much do you love your workplace? Do you want to feel the same way about lighthouses as you do your office? Best to keep your passions and your profession separate.
3. Lighthouse Keeping doesn’t make financial sense
With a take-home pay of roughly $3,340 per month, and the median 2BR apartment rental price being $2,506 per month, a Lighthouse Keeper puts over 75% of their monthly take-home salary towards rent. Add to this the thousands of dollars in student loans you’ll take out to pay for the MLS, and it’s clear: don’t go into Lighthouse Keeping for the money.
4. Your boss is the sea, and she’s a harsh mistress
Too many waves? Want to tone down that Nor’easter? Ghost pirates stepped out of the fog again and created hazardous working conditions? Hah. Good luck getting the ocean to respond to that email.
5. Lighthouses are tall,
and you have to walk up them multiple times a day
Seems obvious, but a lot of newbies forget this. You usually have to carry a bucket of oil up that spiral staircase, too.
6. Most lighthouses make you buy
your own hat, pipe, and yellow rain slicker
Long gone are the days when the lighthouse company would provide these accoutrements free of charge. You can blame privatization and government cut-backs on “non-essential lighthouse spending”, but the fact remains: if you want that sexy Lighthouse Keeper look, you gotta pay for it yourself.
7. Lighthouses are seen by many as a phallic symbol
Not a direct reason to not pursue Lighthouse Keeping, but certainly something to consider.
8. Mermaids/mermen do NOT
want to have sexual relations with humans
Ye and they be from different worlds. To them belong the briny depths, to us the air and sun. It’s a tragedy waiting to happen.
9. Lots of water
In fact, you’ll be surrounded by the stuff. All day, all night. Water. Endless water. The churning of the waves will slowly drive you mad as you gaze into the sea, searching for answers, pondering how the twisted forks of your life brought you to this remote patch of rock on a forgotten coast. They say the sea helps you to forget. But all I know is that, inside the lighthouse, only you can hear your screams.
10. MLS actually stands for
“Master of Library Science”
Finally, the most compelling reason not to get a Master of Lighthouse Science is because the degree isn’t real. I can’t stress how difficult it is to get a degree in something that does not exist. Although, honestly, I wish it were harder to get a fake degree — then I wouldn’t be paying off 30k in student loans to LSU (Lighthouse State University)-Online.