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Top 10 Jobs That Make People Happy

Money isn't everything. If you're looking for a job that brings satisfaction and happiness, then consider a profession in which you serve others, according to researchers from the University of Chicago.

The most satisfying jobs are professions that involve caring for, teaching and protecting others, as well as creative pursuits, while the least satisfying jobs are mostly low-skill and manual occupations, especially involving customer service and food/beverage preparation and serving. Specifically, of all American workers, the happiest and most satisfied are those in the clergy, while laborers are the least satisfied.

The results are based on the 2006 edition of the General Social Survey, an annual poll conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. The most comprehensive survey of its kind, the GSS explores satisfaction and happiness among American workers. A wide variety of questions were asked of a representative sample of Americans in face-to-face interviews. How happy we are with the work we do is important because our feelings about work usually have a significant impact on our overall happiness.

Across all occupations, 47 percent said they were very satisfied with their jobs and 33 percent were very happy.

The most satisfying jobs are:

  • Clergy: 87 percent report being very satisfied
  • Firefighters: 80 percent
  • Physical therapists: 78 percent
  • Authors: 74 percent
  • Special education teachers: 70 percent
  • Teachers: 69 percent
  • Education administrators: 68 percent
  • Painters and sculptors: 67 percent
  • Psychologists: 67 percent
  • Security and financial services salespersons: 65 percent

The least satisfying jobs are:

  • Laborers, except construction: 21 percent report being very satisfied
  • Apparel clothing salespersons: 24 percent
  • Handpackers and packagers: 24 percent
  • Food preparers: 24 percent
  • Roofers: 25 percent
  • Cashiers: 25 percent
  • Furniture and home-furnishing salespersons: 25 percent
  • Bartenders: 26 percent
  • Freight, stock and material handlers: 26 percent
  • Waiters and servers: 27 percent

Previous studies have shown that job satisfaction increases with prestige or social standing, and many of the people reporting high satisfaction and happiness in this survey also had jobs that are respected by society. Interestingly, lawyers and doctors, which have great prestige, did not make the list. Why? These professions also have great responsibility and stress.

The results are useful for people who are seeking a "psychological reward" in addition to salary and employment security.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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