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One firm did a huge study of over 30,000 employees. They looked at jobs from different industries, from teachers to doctors to even janitors, to figure out who are the happiest employees.
Can you guess which job had the happiest employees?
The answer is construction workers!
Construction workers had the highest job satisfaction.
- They create. Construction workers have the unique ability to take an abstract idea or plan and turn it into something real.
- There’s a high sense of camaraderie. Construction workers can’t do it alone. They have to have others lifting and building with them, they get help from the plumbers for the pipes, they need electricians for electricity. We love to work with others and feel like our skills complement other people’s skills.
- They go outside. Construction workers tend to be outside… a lot! They go in and out of buildings, get sunlight, breathe fresh, clean air—all of which boost your mood and are absolutely essential for happiness.
But that’s not all. I found there are 4 key elements to any happy job. They are:
- Prosocial: Interacting with people and helping them in some way
- Creative: Being able to see a vision and make it happen
- Teaching: Jobs that allow others to learn from your experiences or knowledge
- Protecting: Jobs that help others who are in danger or in bad health
What about other jobs?
The Unhappiest Jobs in The World
Before we dive into the other happiest jobs in the world…
First, what makes a job UNHAPPY?
According to CareerBliss’s 2018 unhappiest jobs report, there’s one job that stands out as the unhappiest job in the world.
Can you guess what it is? Is it:
- security guard
- garbage collector
If you guessed d) accountant, you’re right! Accountants were found to be the unhappiest, followed by security guards and cashiers—so bonus points if you chose those.
While the unhappiest jobs paid significantly less than the happiest jobs, there were other factors involved like toxic work culture, lack of growth opportunities, and bad relationships with coworkers.
Stuck in an unhappy job? First, try brushing up on these skills to increase your happiness:
- Got a virtual job? Learn my secret tips to maximize your work-from-home productivity.
- Improve your emotional intelligence to boost your professional relationships.
- Become a great manager to have happier employees.
- Ditch the fake work friends; learn to make real ones.
- Check out my guide to becoming happier at work.
Second, consider reading about the jobs below to adopt some of their happy job traits.
Average Salary: $51,770
Minimum Education Level: Bachelor’s Degree in any field (or none at all)
Personality Traits: Creative, good with words, has self-initiative
Perfect For: People who want a voice and to be heard; people who love to read books
I might be a little bit biased but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my job and so do many of the other writers I know. There is something amazing about putting your vision onto paper. It’s creating something out of nothing—even if you aren’t a writer, that is a fundamental trait of happy jobs.
I also love using words to inspire. Words are free. So to be able to write blogs and books (shoutout to my book, Captivate), it’s like taking a free resource and making it powerful. Can you inspire people and get people to take action using the power of words or ideas alone?
Writing is also fulfilling because it allows you to thrive on creativity. Our thoughts are our words; our pen and paper, our instruments. Great writers don’t only write—they spread contagious ideas. If you’re thinking about becoming a writer, I highly recommend just STARTING. It’s free. Grab a pen and paper, or heck, a napkin and crayon, and start writing.
My rule of thumb: it’s better to have 100 good words on paper than 10 perfect ones.
Average Salary: $16.74 per hour
Minimum Education Level: High School Diploma
Personality Traits: Perceptive, eye for detail, passionate
Perfect For: Creative storytellers who have a knack for visual arts
A photographer is a storyteller. A creative. A visionary. They capture memories and experiences without necessarily having to use words, unlike a writer. Photographers have one of the happiest jobs in the world because they get to tell a story.
Like painters, photographers often take realistic scenes and blend them to create a story or document an experience. And photographers are super happy—have you ever seen a professional photographer angry? I certainly haven’t… well, maybe at my cousin’s wedding. But other than THAT, they are happy. That is also because you can be a photographer with a lot of freedom—you don’t have to do it full time. You can do newborn photos instead of weddings, pets instead of newborns, or boudoir instead of pets. You are in control!
Get Started: My incredible, talented, amazing photographer Maggie Kirkland teaches photographers the art and business of photography. Check her out!
Average Salary: $52,082
Minimum Education Level: Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s in Psychology
Personality Traits: Empathetic, active listening, compassionate
Perfect For: People who have suffered and want to help those suffering
Counselors are awesome because everyone should have a counselor in their life. My mother is my best counselor and someone who has helped me with my personal issues from Day 1.
And like a loving parent, a counselor is someone who guides people and offers holistic advice. Counselors are happy because they get to help people—for example, some counselors help health patients to improve their mental, emotional, and psychological well-being.
How cool is that?
Counselors act as someone people trust. Others go to them to deal with any and all issues, such as drug abuse, depression, suicide, marriage, and even LGBTQ issues.
Get Started: How To Become A Counselor
Average Salary: $48,660
Minimum Education Level: High School Diploma or GED
Personality Traits: Brave, self-sacrificial, situational awareness
Perfect For: Those who want to save lives; people who aren’t scared of fire
Firefighters are the heroes of the world. They’re on scene, saving lives, and everybody loves firefighters.
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.
Get Started: My Writing Process
Average Salary: $71,482
Minimum Education Level: Bachelor’s Degree
Personality Traits: Supportive, sociable, health-conscious
Perfect For: Health fanatics, sports/fitness enthusiasts
For the longest time, I’ve had an aching lower back pain. The kind of pain that makes you realize you’re getting older.
But it all went away as soon as I started practicing yoga and seeing a physical therapist.
Physical therapists are body-healing wizards. They help people go from injury to feeling free with a detailed plan of recovery. After visiting my physical therapist, I realized I was sitting wrong at my desk the whole 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.
Get Started: How to Become a Physical Therapist
Average Salary: $16.11 per hour
Minimum Education Level: High School Diploma
Personality Traits: Practical, safe and cautious, good at handling stress
Perfect For: People who love to do physical work, belong in a group, and work outdoors
Take one step outside and chances are you’ll see many buildings that construction workers finished. Construction workers are the #1 happiest job for a reason—they do what humans are built for! They plan, move and use their bodies, and get to see their creative works come to life.
Not all construction jobs are easy to jump into, however. The Laborers’ International Union of North America requires 4,000 hours of on-the-job training and 300 hours of other studying in areas like safety and health procedures.
If you love working outdoors and doing physical work (and don’t mind working in the happiest job on the planet), look no further than being a construction worker!
Get Started: Learn About Being a Construction Worker
Average Salary: $41,428
Minimum Education Level: Bachelor’s Degree
Personality Traits: Helpful, loves to talk, good at planning
Perfect For: Religious enthusiasts and disciplined people
A priest is someone who serves in a church, performs religious tasks, and helps increase others’ spirituality. Just like a company or a school, a church runs on grand systems, and everyone knows their responsibilities in a church. Priests:
- work with people
- often act as counselors to help others with their problems
- practice disciplined rituals
All of these are a super combo for happiness! Priests enjoy spreading the word and bringing happiness and inspiration to others.
Get Started: Become a Catholic Priest: Step-by-Step Career Guide
Community Social Worker
Average Salary: $48,093
Minimum Education Level: 3-Year Undergraduate Degree
Personality Traits: Patient, empowering, nonjudgmental
Perfect For: Empaths who want to personally help struggling people
A community social worker tends to the needs of the community, such as addressing complex issues with poverty, discrimination, disabilities, and more. Depending on the line of work, social workers can face many difficult problems.
My social worker friend says you’ve got to be sharp and resilient to last in this job, as many social workers deal with people facing the lowest of the lows. But bringing people up is exactly what social workers love to do.
Get Started: How to Become a Licensed Social Worker Step-by-Step
Average Salary: $41,221
Minimum Education Level: Bachelor’s Degree
Personality Traits: Love kids, sense of humor, high energy
Perfect For: Kid lovers, enthusiastic people, and soon-to-be parents
If you’re happy and you know it, then you must be a kindergarten teacher.
A kindergarten teacher helps kids develop many traits, such as basic reading and number skills. This job is great if you love kids… but it can be a nightmare if you don’t.
Kindergarten teachers are like parents. They:
- tell kids what to do
- supervise them
- gather them to play different games
The big difference between a parent and a teacher is that teachers control a whole group of kids. 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.
If you’re a children person like I am, then you know how amazing it would be to teach kindergarten students. Although teachers don’t get paid enough, their love for the job makes up for the lower salary.
Get Started: How to become a kindergarten teacher
Money = Happiness?
Let’s ask the age-old question: does money equal happiness?
There’s a hidden cost to all that money.
Compiled data from the CPD Standards Office shows that higher income can actually lead to a lot of stress, with a whopping 90% correlation between income satisfaction and anxiety.
Why? Because even when people are making more money, there are also the downsides:
- longer working hours
- more responsibility
So in short, money does lead to more happiness sometimes… IF you can manage the anxiety and take the greater responsibility that comes with earning more.
Instead of chasing money, I highly recommend finding your dream job. Check out this TED talk by Scott Dinsmore to learn more about finding work you love:
What Job is The Least Stressful?
So you want to kick back, relax, and not have to worry about all that work stress?
First, according to CareerCast’s annual Most Stressful Jobs report, you probably want to AVOID these jobs (the higher the number, the higher the stress):
- enlisted military personnel: 72.58
- firefighter: 72.38
- airline pilot: 61.20
- police officer: 51.94
- broadcaster: 51.27
- event coordinator: 51.19
- newspaper reporter: 49.96
- public relations executive: 49.48
- senior corporate executive: 48.97
- taxi driver: 48.17
Not to mention being a CEO or C-level executive (this one really takes a toll on you!).
If you’re looking for less stress, the same study listed these jobs as the least stressful:
- diagnostic medical sonographer: 5.07
- compliance officer: 5.76
- hair stylist: 6.72
- audiologist: 7.28
- university professor (tenured): 8.42
- medical records technician: 8.52
- jeweler: 9
- operations research analyst: 9.09
- pharmacy technician: 9.19
- massage therapist: 10:39
Diagnostic medical sonographer came in first as the least stressful job ever! If you don’t know what that is, that’s the person responsible for performing diagnostic procedures, such as using ultrasound cream on a pregnant woman’s belly to see the fetus.
What is The Loneliest Job?
The loneliest job is a job in the law profession, according to a 2018 Harvard study of 1,624 full-time employees. Coupled with high stress and long working hours spent alone, lawyers often feel isolated for long periods of time.
But it’s not just Saul who’s lonely—there are other common jobs that also face loneliness:
- Medicine. People with medical degrees are 25% lonelier than those holding just a bachelor’s.
- Science. Lab assistants, technical wizards, oh my! These workers spend long hours on the computer or researching, leading to increased loneliness.
- Engineering. Engineers are often steeped in their plans and can be introverted from the get-go.
- Civil servants. Government employees, surprisingly, reported lower levels of social support than other workers.
So if you’re a die-hard extrovert and can’t help being surrounded by people, try finding a suitable job that fits.
One thing I find that helps a lot of People School students is to take a simple personality test! Try the Big 5 (OCEAN) test—the only scientifically-proven personality test available. And it’s completely free here at Science of People!
The #1 Most Respected Job
OK, I’m not a construction worker. And chances are you’re not either. But this doesn’t mean YOU don’t have the happiest or most respected job ever!
The #1 most respected job you can have is doing the thing you love. Even if that means not being in a “traditional” job. That’s why I love being a mother!
And let me tell you: being a parent is like flipping the switch ON and keeping it there 24/7. To all the mothers, fathers, grandparents, and soon-to-be parents out there…
Stay strong and keep doing the job that matters the most!
And if you liked this post, consider hopping over to one of my recent job posts: