When we’re young, we often grow up dreaming of who we want to be. As we get older, those dreams start to shift – reality sets in and our paths often turn out much different than what we imagined as a child. A variety of factors can influence our career, such as access to opportunity, changing interests and skill sets, or other life events like starting a family. Usually people who find meaning in their work tend to be happier, as their passion and drive for what they do keeps them motivated. The happiest jobs for each person will vary according to their individual strengths and unique personality.
It’s not uncommon now to frequently switch jobs or careers in order to find one that fulfills you or pays more. A survey of 2,000 adults commissioned by distance learning provider Open Study College found that the average millennial has already worked as many jobs as most people in their fifties have over the course of their entire career. Survey respondents between the ages of 25 and 34 have already worked an average of six different jobs so far in their careers. On the other hand, the average older adult approaching retirement has worked seven jobs throughout their entire life. The idea that you have to stick to one career path is outdated.
If you decide to dive into a new field, you certainly won’t be alone. Research conducted by Zippia found that 61 percent of American employees want to leave their current jobs in 2023. Only 20 percent of Americans describe themselves as being truly passionate about their work. Being passionate about work is associated with holding a “meaningful” job, and the jobs that people most often consider meaningful are often in the humanities and healthcare fields.
StudyFinds researched which are considered the happiest jobs that people tend to report a higher level of satisfaction at, according to experts. However, what you will consider meaningful depends on your own outlook. Are you extremely happy at your job? Let us know what you do in the comments below!
The List: Happiest Jobs, According to Career Experts
1. Physical Therapist
Physical therapists are experts in movement and the human body that often help to rehabilitate people with injuries or disabilities. They are responsible for prescribing and providing treatment and educating patients. “Arguably one of the best parts of working as a physical therapist is getting to help others improve their health and resume their daily activities,” writes Best Colleges. “In PayScale’s survey, a whopping 90% of physical therapists felt their job held high meaning. Moreover, about 4 in 5 physical therapists surveyed reported high professional satisfaction.”
Physical therapists probably get to see the most direct impact of their work during their sessions with patients as well as in results over time. “Physical therapists are happy because they interact with so many people on a daily basis. We trust their expertise, and good physical therapists really help change peoples’ bodies for the better,” says Science of People.
According to Leaders, the average salary for physical therapists is over $90,000 and requires a doctorate and state license in the field. “Providing care as a physical therapist means helping patients to find ways to alleviate their pain and gain mobility so they can live without restriction. For this reason, being a physical therapist can be one of the happiest careers.”
Firefighters are trained rescuers and medics that are first to respond in many emergency situations. “In addition to fighting fires, firefighters are responsible for responding to medical emergencies, hazardous situations, rescue missions, and fire alarms. While being a firefighter can be dangerous, it can also be incredibly rewarding,” writes Leaders.
Though you do need to be in great physical condition and go through training, there is no prerequisite degree needed. “Unknown to most people, you don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s degree to become a firefighter in most states in the US. You can start as a volunteer firefighter and gradually learn the ropes,” says Career Karma.
According to Science of People, the average salary is $48,660 and it only requires a high school diploma or GED. “Not only do they get the glory, but firefighters also are lucky enough to be part of a tribe or team. Working in close quarters and literally having your life depend on your coworkers at times creates strong bonds between firefighters—bonds that often last a lifetime.”
As a teacher you are required to have a bachelor’s degree and complete training in order to earn your teaching credentials. The level of education required may also vary according to the level and subject you plan to teach. “Teachers in general report being happy with their jobs, despite the current issues with education funding and classroom conditions,” writes Forbes. “The profession continues to attract young idealists, although fifty percent of new teachers are gone within five years.”
Teaching is another way to directly impact the lives of others, often starting in the early years. “There is nothing more wonderful than seeing children achieve and progress,” says Kathryn Bowers, a teacher of autistic children at the Puzzle Centre in Buckinghamshire in an article by The Guardian. “Children start with limited interaction skills and often with virtually no methods to communicate.”
Science of People specifically notes the happiness of kindergarten teachers. “Teachers are happy because they help develop a child’s personal, social, and emotional skills, and also get to see their students grow up along the way. Many teachers often feel sad to see their students go, as they become attached to them.”
4. Teaching Assistant
Teaching assistants are responsible for many of the same duties as teachers, and is often the preliminary path into becoming a teacher. “A teaching assistant, or aide, supports a teacher with supervising classroom activities and other instructional responsibilities to help students succeed both academically and personally. They often will help prepare lesson plans and monitor student progress,” writes Indeed.
Teaching assistants often rated their job satisfaction as some of the best, despite the position not having the best salary. “Our happiest job by a longshot is research/teaching assistants,” states Business Insider. “They love everything from the people they work with to their organizational culture and work freedom.”
Happier Human ranks it as the number one happiest job. “The pay on this rewarding job is not that high (on average), but it is very rewarding because you get to work with children and see them progress.”
5. Quality Assurance Analyst
QA Analyst jobs are forecasted for extreme growth over the next few years. The positions often favor those with data analytics degrees, but can also be obtained without one by getting a foot in the door at other positions within a company. “It may surprise some people that a QA analyst is second on the list of happiest jobs in America,” writes Happier Human. “Quality assurance analysts test products and systems to make sure that they meet companies’ standards. This includes creating test plans, cases, and scripts to ensure accuracy.”
QA Analysts tend to be good problem solvers and have great attention to detail. They are dedicated to ensuring processes are conducted in the best way possible. “Recent surveys have found that quality analysts have been rated high in terms of satisfaction factors. Quality analysts jobs are rated high as they get the chance to work with colleagues and bosses with independence,” says Wisestep.
You might also be interested in:
- Best Colleges
- Science of People
- Career Karma
- The Guardian
- Business Insider
- Happier Human
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.
Way off on the salaries of firefighters in major cities like NYC and Boston. After overtime and other add ons easily in the low-mid $100k category
You lost me at teacher. The most under paid and unappreciated job. Firefighter is a good one however they get paid a lot more than listed.
I’m a firefighter and I make a lot less. Check your information there dude.
All the teachers I know are miserable and hate it. This list seems fake.
I wouldn’t argue that teachers are underpaid. They’re totally disrespected however. But that’s because of their unions.
The only thing that stands between even lower teacher salaries and deeper disrespect and poor treatment by parents, administrators, and school boards is collective bargaining. Teachers’ unions defend the pay, benefits, and working conditions of the people who educate the next generation, and still people harangue and criticize their hard work. Teach your kids at home if you like, but stop bad mouthing professional educators
My wife is a teacher . Her and all her teacher friends are miserable. Underpaid, rude kids and parents. Who makes this list up???
Teach. Really… I tried it. It totally is a horrible job. Low pay and parents and students are rude as heck. Kids at 2nd grade cursing you out.
Wow bad writer. Even college programs stopping there programs
I can understand firefighters. All the ones I know in CA make over 6 figures, work about 8 or 10 days a month, when not running calls, they work out on the clock. It’s the best job ever! Oh and free health and dental insurance and retirement benefits.
Teaching? Really? No we get the barco lounger rangers. Only two jobs get paid to be in bed. One is fire fighting. The other? Well. Guess.
Firefighters make $35k – $56k, depending on what state they live in.
I and my brother worked as anesthesia nurse and surgery assistant (in order) on FMIC on operating room for more than 5 years. FMIC((French medical institute for mothers and children) is located in Kabul, Afghanistan. How we can apply on abroad of Afghanistan especially on USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
#1 looks more like an Occupational Therapist addressing the upper extremity prosthetic for a client… modifying, and adapting to tasks, versus a physical therapist working on restoring muscle function.
If the average teacher turnover time is 5 years how is it a happy job? If someone is happy at a job they will stay more than 5 years!