If you’re contemplating a career change, you might want to consider one of these paths (via Utne).
Whether you prefer interacting with people, independence in the workplace, or a comfortable salary, there’s something for you on this list of the jobs that keep employees most satisfied at work, compiled by University of Chicago researchers.
You’ll find some sure bets — we’ve all had great teachers, for example, who insist no better occupation exists — and some surprises, too.
Find out which gigs made the cut, and why people who get up every morning for those jobs actually look forward to it.
These skilled laborers include crane operators, surveyors, and the engineers sitting at computers guiding construction. They're the people who erect skyscrapers, build highways, and work as miners and loggers.
The profession is heavily unionized -- there are about 400,000 members in North America, and the latest Bureau of labour Statistics show there are roughly 470,000 workers -- so operating engineers enjoy relatively cushy benefits and a high hourly wage, more than $20.
And they can rest easy because they've got security, too. The BLS projects a 12% increase in job openings between 2008 and 2018.
Financial services sales agents sell clients on banking services, like loans and mutual funds. They also advise people on investments and money management.
The perks? You get to work in a standard office environment, you get to communicate with a variety of people, and the average salary lands above $90,000 -- sometimes, with an option to earn bonuses, too.
Psychologists earn a decent salary -- the median rate is more than $64,000. But while more money usually means less problems, at least in terms of maintaining a comfortable lifestyle, psychologists themselves have taught us that wages don't define happiness.
Maybe psychologists report higher happiness levels because know what to do to be happy at work -- after all, they advise the rest of us on how to achieve that.
Aside from the generally low pay, people who work in the arts have a lot to be happy about.
It's fairly free-form and flexible, and it allows -- in fact, requires -- a ton of creativity. Instead of building in a creative outlet, artists spend their work lives in one.
Plus, one recent study showed that, of the six activities that make people happiest, four were arts-related: theatre/dance, singing, visiting a museum exhibition, and hobbies including arts and crafts.
Cheryl Gferer, who teaches at Century College in White Bear Lake, Minn., says she isn't surprised to see teachers on the list.
'My students teach me more than I could ever teach them. They teach me how to face challenges, how to behave with integrity, how be more than people expect of me, how to stand up after being knocked down,' she says.
Still, teaching comes with challenges, like struggling students and the time-consuming nature of the job. But there are benefits that go far beyond those drawbacks.
'I think it makes me a better human being,' Gferer says. 'Despite that I'm often exhausted by my work, it is the most gratifying job I can imagine. I'm lucky to be a teacher.
In much the same way as other educators, special education teachers are challenged motivated by their students.
These teachers, though, face myriad challenges unique to each fo their students' distinct needs. They have to be detail-oriented and able to focus on several things at once. It makes for exhausting days, but they're still among the most satisfied members of the workforce.
They're working closely with their students, developing relationships and helping them to flourish in the education system. It's an important job, and the benefits of a special education teacher's work are easy to see.
Firefighters have one of the most hazardous, demanding, and important jobs out there. They work 24-hour shifts, including on holidays. They undergo extensive training, and they routinely risk their lives. Still, they're some of the happiest people. Why?
First, they have a supremely important job that's also highly rewarding. They protect people and their most sacred possessions.
Second, the work environment is a good one. Sure, they're on the clock full days at a time. But the colleague-to-colleague relationships are as tight as it gets. They develop strong bonds by spending so much time together, and count on each other to stay safe.
'It's almost like living with a second family,' says firefighter Matt Ouellette.
Jay Terbush has been in full-time ministry for 25 years.
'There has not been one day when I have thought, 'I wish that I had gone into some other career,'' he says. 'I just like to do the various tasks that ministers are engaged in: preaching and teaching, leading worship, caring for people in need, celebrating joyous occasions, being with people in the depths of sorrow, guiding people in their personal search for a life of meaning and purpose, mentoring youth toward faith and personal maturity.'
The 'awesome responsibility and privilege' of helping people through their crises and sharing in their celebrations inspire Terbush to be a better person -- and what's more rewarding than that?
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