What Are the Most Satisfying Jobs?

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All jobs have unique advantages: some jobs pay very well, other jobs are very stable, and some jobs have very flexible schedules. However, 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 limited 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:

Money – Money definitely plays a role in making a job satisfying for most people. However, some studies have shown that money only increases one’s satisfaction up to a certain point. Most people are satisfied as long as they have enough money to live on and same savings for security.

Limited stress – Most studies show that long-term, intense stress at work is bad. A job that requires late hours and non-stop hard work usually does not feel very satisfying. However, a little stress can be a good thing. People tend to feel satisfied when they face achievable challenges at work.

Caring for others – Most people need 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 in some way. This might mean teaching students, protecting others, or looking after others’ well-being. There are jobs in every industry that involve caring for others in some way.

Positive relationships – Many people with satisfying jobs have positive relationships with people at work, including their bosses, coworkers, staff, and clients. This does not mean you have to be best friends with your office mates 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.

Company culture – Everyone looks for something different in his or her company culture. You might want a casual, open-space environment in your 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.

Opportunities for advancement – Most people feel satisfied at work when they know they are moving towards 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.

Company reputation – 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.

Fulfilling day-to-day tasks – What might matter most in a satisfying job is the work you do on a daily basis. People tend to feel satisfied when they have to complete a diverse range of tasks – this keeps people interested and engaged in their work. People 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 of 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.

Lack of major negatives – There are a number of 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.

15 of the Most Satisfying Jobs

U.S. News & World Report, PayScale, CareerBliss, and other organizations have conducted research on the most satisfying jobs. Here is a list of some careers that are often listed as satisfying. Look through the list and see if one of these jobs might fit your definition of a fulfilling career.

1. Clergy

Clergymen and clergywomen perform spiritual functions and religious worship according to their particular religion. They offer guidance and assistance to people in their communities. Clergy focus on caring for others. Clergy earn an average salary of $45,740, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

2. Chief Executive

A chief executive can work in nearly any industry. He or she directs and coordinates the goals and activities of a company or organization. A chief executive has a lot of responsibilities, but he or she also gets to set the tone for the company and manage all of the employees. Chief executives make a high average salary of $103,950.

3. Chiropractor

Chiropractors work with patients who have problems such as back and neck pain. This job can give great satisfaction because chiropractors provide a direct service to patients. Chiropractors earn an average salary of $67,520, and chiropractor jobs are expected to increase 12% over the next ten years, which is faster than the national average.

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. They earn an average salary of $61,810. People with this job often feel fulfilled by knowing they are protecting and conserving natural resources.

5. Dentist

You might not enjoy going to the dentist, but a job in dentistry tends to bring many people satisfaction. Dentists diagnose and treat patients with issues related to their teeth and gums. They often work with a small staff. Dentists earn an average salary of $153,500, and dentist jobs are likely to increase at a rate much faster than the national average in the next ten years.

Other jobs related to dentistry also bring many people satisfaction. For example, dental hygienists, orthodontists, and oral surgeons all have high rates of job satisfaction. All of these jobs are expected to increase at a rate higher than the national average.

6. Firefighter

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. Firefighters earn an average salary of $48,030.

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. HR managers earn an average of $106,910 per year.

A similar job that also tends to bring satisfaction is an HR specialist. They often work under an HR manager and earn less ($59,180 on average), but they 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 an average of $96,540, and are expected to see a rise in job openings that will be much faster than the national average (20%).

9. Nurse

Providing care to patients can give someone great fulfillment at work. A number of types of nurses report having high levels of work satisfaction. A registered nurse (RN) provides patient care, working in either a hospital, doctor’s office, home healthcare facility, or nursing care facility. He or she typically has a bachelor’s degree, associate’s degree, or diploma from a nursing program. RNs earn an average of $68,450, and are seeing faster-than-average job growth (15%).

Nurse practitioners also provide patient care. They might also prescribe medications and order medical tests. They typically have a master’s degree, and earn an average salary of $100,910. They are seeing 31% job growth, which is much faster than average.

Nurse anesthetists have the highest average salary of all nurses, at $160,270, and are also seeing 31% job growth. They provide anesthesia and related care to patients before, during, and after surgeries.

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. They might work with a particular group of people, such as athletes, children, or the elderly. They might work in physical therapy offices, hospitals, or nursing care facilities. They earn an average of $85,400 per year, and are expected to see a 28% increase in the number of jobs over the next ten years.

11. Physician

Like nurses, physicians work with patients to treat various illnesses. They work in hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices, as well as academia and government agencies. To become a physician, they must complete medical school and various internship and residency programs.

General physicians treat a range of people and conditions, and earn an average salary of $230,456. Other types of doctors that report high levels of satisfaction include obstetricians, gynecologists, and psychiatrists. All physician jobs are expected to see faster-than-average job growth over the next ten years.

12. Psychologists

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. They generally need a doctoral degree in psychology. Psychologists earn an average of $75,230, and are seeing faster-than-average job growth.

13. Software Developer

Software developers use their creativity 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 (24%), and earn an average of $102,280.

14. Surgeons

Surgeons perform operations to treat diseases, injuries, and deformities. Many surgeons specialize in a particular area. General surgeons perform a variety of surgeries, and earn an average of $409,665 per year. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons also report high levels of work satisfaction. They operate on the mouth, jaw, gums, teeth, neck, and head. They earn an average of over $208,000.

While the pay is very good, becoming a surgeon takes years of schooling and years of internship and residency programs. All surgeons are seeing a faster-than-average increase in jobs.

15. Teachers

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. Average salaries range from $55,490 for elementary school teachers to $58,030 for high school teachers.

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. They earn an average of $57,910.