Very interesting quick view from the outside on the life of a mathematician, from the world out-there: According to Laurence Shatkin, author of "150 Best Low-Stress Jobs," as detailed in the Yahoo! hotjobs section, a mathematician with a Ph.D. can earn a starting salary in the 80s while enjoying a relatively stress-free life: The money quote:
"[T]he most stressful aspects of the job are the importance of being exact and a level of competition, in essence it's all good."
I have to admit that there may be a bit more stress in one's life than simply the overpowering compulsion to be exact. And the competition among mathematicians can be quite fierce in its own way (although in truth we have nothing on the social scientists: Our theories (theorems) are usually not judged on the matter of being correct. We cannot have competing theorems like in economics and sometimes in physics. What is right is right, after all. Our competition is more a matter of who proves something first, or in the most beautiful way, or just how "interesting" our results are).
And while some of my mathematician friends over at the National Security Agency and NASA, or some of the securities specialists on Wall Street (you would be surprised on how many mathematicians work in lower Manhattan) may quibble with Shatkin's quote that "[m]athematicians are not under pressure as this isn't life and death; they're dealing with theoretical realms," I have to admit it is a good life.
Something to consider, anyway....