There are a lot of different kinds of good jobs out there in the world. Some jobs pay high salaries, other jobs are very stable, and some jobs have flexible schedules. But, which jobs are truly the most satisfying?
Of course, not everyone wants the same things out of a career. A lot of what makes a job satisfying is very personal. However, there are a few common factors that make a job fulfilling and enjoyable.
What Makes a Job Satisfying?
For a job to be satisfying, it usually has to meet a number of requirements. For example, a job that earns you a lot of money is not necessarily fulfilling. A job that has very long hours might not feel satisfying.
Again, everyone’s version of a satisfying job varies. However, here are some factors that people tend to look for in a job that brings satisfaction:
Fulfilling Day-to-Day Tasks
What might matter most in a satisfying job is the work you do on a daily basis. Workers tend to feel satisfied when they have to complete a diverse range of tasks—this keeps people interested and engaged in their work. Workers also tend to want control over the work they do—they want to be able to have some say in what tasks they complete at a given moment.
A Job You're Good At
If you have a job that fits all the qualities listed above, but you really struggle with the tasks and are not improving, the job will not be satisfying. People tend to need jobs in fields in which they are skilled and confident, or at least jobs in which they can develop the necessary skills and abilities.
Most studies show that long-term, intense stress at work is bad for your job satisfaction, health, and happiness. So, it makes sense that a job that requires late hours and non-stop hard work would not feel very satisfying. However, a little stress can be a good thing. People tend to feel satisfied when they face surmountable challenges at work.
The Company and Career Growth
Everyone looks for something different in their company culture. Some might want a casual, open-space environment in the office. Others might want a more structured environment. To feel satisfied at work, you want to have a positive work environment, whatever that means for you.
Another way to find satisfaction at work is to work for a company with a good reputation. This can mean a lot of things—it might mean a company that is at the top of its industry, a company known for providing a public good, or a company known for treating its employees well.
Opportunities for Advancement
Most people feel satisfied at work when they know they are moving toward something, whether it is a promotion or another opportunity to advance in their career. Similarly, most people feel satisfied at work when they have opportunities to grow professionally, either through seminars, training, or workshops.
Work and Life
Money definitely plays a role in making a job satisfying for most people. In fact, the newest research shows that contrary to earlier studies, making more money increases happiness even for high earners. However, the study’s author noted that equating money with success actually decreased happiness for participants. So, keep in mind that while you need a salary that will support your basic needs, a high income alone isn’t a recipe for job satisfaction.
Lack of Major Negatives
There are several negative factors that could ruin a potentially satisfying job. These include extremely long hours, a long commute, unfair pay, and a lack of job security. If none of these negatives exist, that is a sign that the job could be very satisfying.
Fulfillment and Relationships
Caring for Others
Most people want a sense of fulfillment at work to feel satisfied. One of the most common ways people find a sense of fulfillment at work is to care for others. This might mean teaching students, protecting others, or looking after others’ well-being. There are jobs in every industry that involve helping in some way.
Many people with satisfying jobs have positive relationships with people at work, including their bosses, co-workers, staff, and clients. This does not mean you have to be best friends with your officemates to feel satisfied at work. However, having colleagues whom you know you can turn to if you need help can make for a very fulfilling career.
15 of the Most Satisfying Jobs
PayScale, CareerBliss, and other organizations have conducted research on the most satisfying jobs. Here is a list of some careers that are often considered satisfying. See if one of these jobs might fit your definition of a fulfilling career.
Clergy provide spiritual and practical support, guidance, and assistance to people in their communities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), clergy earn an average salary of $55,190 annually.
2. Chief Executive
A chief executive can work in nearly any industry. They direct and coordinate the goals and activities of a company or organization. A chief executive has a lot of responsibilities, but they also get to set the tone for the company. The BLS reports that chief executives earn a median annual salary of $104,690.
Chiropractors work with patients who have neuromusculoskeletal problems such as back and neck pain. This job can give great satisfaction because chiropractors provide a direct service to patients. According to the BLS, chiropractors earn an average annual salary of $85,010.
4. Conservation Scientist
Conservation scientists manage natural resources in forests, rangelands, parks, and other spaces. This job might involve working with landowners, farmers, government agencies, and others with a hand in a particular natural resource. Per the BLS, conservation scientists earn a median annual salary of $62,410. People with this job often feel fulfilled by knowing they are protecting and conserving natural resources.
You might not enjoy going to the dentist, but a career in dentistry might lead to high job satisfaction. Dentists diagnose and treat issues related to teeth and gums. They often work with a small staff, which may include dental hygienists, another satisfying job in the field. Dentists earn a median annual salary of $159,200, according to the BLS. Dental specialties include orthodontics and oral surgery.
Firefighters provide a direct service to the public. They put out fires and respond to other emergency situations. They often go through training at fire academies and receive EMT certification. Per the BLS, firefighters earn a median annual salary $50,850.
7. Human Resources Manager
Human resources (HR) managers oversee an organization’s recruiting, interviewing, and hiring processes. They also handle other internal issues, including conflicts between employees and management, salary and benefit issues, and more. The BLS reports that HR managers earn a median annual salary of $116,720.
HR specialists also report high satisfaction. They often work under an HR manager and earn a median annual salary of $61,920, according to the BLS. HR specialists also work with employers and employees to solve problems and address workplace issues.
8. Medical and Health Services Manager
Also known as healthcare executives or healthcare administrators, these managers coordinate and direct various health and medical services. Their work might involve supervising staff, managing finances, and communicating with both medical staff and department heads. They earn a median annual salary of $100,980, according to the BLS, which projects that job openings in this field will rise 32% over the next 10 years.
Providing care to patients can give someone great fulfillment at work. A registered nurse (RN) provides patient care, working in either a hospital, doctor’s office, home healthcare facility, or nursing care facility. They typically have a bachelor’s degree or associate degree. RNs earn a median annual salary of $73,300, per the BLS, and are seeing faster-than-average job growth (7%).
Advanced practice registered nurses like nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists have additional education and licensure. Some, like nurse practitioners, may provide primary care. APRNs earn a median annual salary of $115,800, according to the BLS, which projects job growth of 45% over the next decade.
10. Physical Therapists
Physical therapists often feel a sense of fulfillment because they provide direct client care. They help people with injuries or illnesses improve their movement. Physical therapists might work with a particular group of people, such as athletes, children, or the elderly. PTs earn a median annual salary of $89,440, according to the BLS, and are expected to see a 18% increase in the number of jobs over the next 10 years.
Physicians diagnose and treat illnesses and help patients maintain good health. They work in hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices, as well as academia and government agencies. To become a physician, students must complete medical school and various internship and residency programs. Physicians treat a range of people and conditions and earn a median annual salary of more than $208,000, according to the BLS.
Psychologists often work directly with clients to help improve their emotional or behavioral well-being. They might also conduct scientific studies related to brain function and behavior, and they often write research papers on their findings. Psychologists in private practice usually need a Ph.D. in psychology and licensure. The BLS reports that psychologists earn a median annual salary of $80,370.
13. Software Developer
Software developers use their creativity and technical knowledge to design computer programs. They might develop applications for users, or they might design the systems that run devices and networks. They are seeing much faster-than-average job growth (22%), according to the BLS, and earn a median annual salary of $107,510.
Surgeons perform operations to treat diseases, injuries, and deformities. Many surgeons specialize in a particular area. While the pay is very good, becoming a surgeon takes years of schooling and years of internship and residency programs. The BLS measures surgeons’ pay together with physicians’; together, these occupations earn a median annual salary that exceeds $208,000.
Teachers work in a variety of educational settings to teach academic materials to students. Teachers working with all age groups report high levels of job satisfaction. According to the BLS, median salaries hover around $60,000 for teachers at elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools.
In particular, special education teachers report very high levels of satisfaction. They work with students who have a range of learning, emotional, and mental disabilities. These teachers earn a median annual salary of $61,030, per the BLS.