10 Jobs That Make People Happy

By Erin Joyce | April 28, 2011 AAA
10 Jobs That Make People Happy

How eager are you to get up for work each day? Payscale.com asked people to rate how satisfied they were with their jobs, and of the nearly 4,000 jobs surveyed, the average satisfaction ratio was 68%. According to Payscale, the average pay for people with over a 68% satisfaction ratio was $68,000. For people with less than a 68% satisfaction ratio, the average pay was $54,000. If you are looking for a job you can be happy to wake up for each day and still pay the bills, consider these top 10 careers for job satisfaction. (Find out how to decide between these two financial professions. See Broker Or Trader: Which Career Is Right For You?)

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1. Operating Room Registered Nurse
With an average salary of $61,000, the survey reports a satisfaction rate of 81% for Operating Room Registered Nurses. These medical professionals work in operating rooms for all services (including general surgery, gynecology, ENT, orthopedics, plastics and more). According to the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, nursing in the operating room includes "verifying information related to surgical intervention, assisting with phases of general anaesthesia, documenting surgical counts, and planning responses to potential-life threatening situations."

2. Physical Therapist
This career has a satisfaction rate of 80% and an average salary of $69,000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), physical therapists or PTs "evaluate and diagnose movement dysfunction and use interventions to treat patient/clients." If the idea of helping others increase mobility, prevent injury and reduce pain doesn't leave you feeling satisfied, perhaps the fact that employment in this sector is expected to grow much faster than average will bring a smile to your face.

3. Environmental Engineer
Environmental Engineers work in the assessment, design, operations and planning of site operations, according to Alberta Occupational Profiles. The average salary is $63,000, and this career boasts an 80% satisfaction rate. These engineers spend their days using their knowledge to improve the environment, or at least reduce the impact our industries have on the planet.

4. Athletic Trainer
At $39,000, athletic trainers have the lowest average salary of the top 10, but the satisfaction rate is a solid 79%. Being a part of the positive changes in their clients' lives may be worth the lower paycheck – especially when the results are so easily visible.

5. Dietitian
Like the athletic trainers, dietitians get to clearly see the results of the positive changes in their clients' health. Dietitians have an average salary of $49,000, with a satisfaction rate of 78%. Dietitian also ranked in the top 10 for the jobs with the most flexible working hours – a must-have perk for some.

6. Elementary School Teacher
Elementary school teachers have an average salary of $41,000 and a satisfaction rate of 78%. Teaching is traditionally thought of as a fulfilling career, and it seems those teaching the grades before the kids resent having to go to school every day enjoy the highest rate of satisfaction. (If you're a number-cruncher and responsibility doesn't scare you, this could be the job for you. Check out Analyzing A Career In Credit Analysis.)

7. Intelligence Analyst
At its simplest, an intelligence analyst's job is to interpret reports from field agents. They may work for government agencies or in the private sector. The average salary reported was $69,000. The 76% satisfaction rating may come partly because of the many background checks and security hoops one needs to jump through before attaining this position – if you're willing to go through all that, you're likely pretty sure you will enjoy your work!

8. Computer Networking / IT Systems Engineer
With an average salary of $70,000 and a satisfaction rating of 75%, computer networking/IT systems engineers "research, design, implement and troubleshoot information systems and technology systems," according to Payscale.

9. Dental Hygienist
The tough work of a dental hygienist isn't for everyone, but the draw of helping people have healthier mouths – and a $68,000 average salary – resulted in a satisfaction rate of 74%. The draws to this type of work might include the great job prospects and the flexible working hours, according to the BLS.

10. Technical Writer
If you remember Tina the Technical Writer from Scott Adams' Dilbert comics, you might have some idea about what this career entails. The average salary reported was $56,000, with a satisfaction rate of 71%. As the job title suggests, technical writers write materials such as manuals and maintenance instructions for different technologies.

The Bottom Line
When deciding on your ideal career, hopefully you factor in more than just the paycheck. According to the BLS American Time Use Survey (ATUS) for 2009, employed persons in America worked an average of 7.5 hours a day. With that amount of time taken up, finding a job that can take care of the bills and make you happy in your day-to-day life will be well worth the effort. (Learn more about the career options that are available to you after you've obtained your finance degree. Refer to A Look At Entry-Level Careers In Finance.)

The pay reported is the median total cash compensation (TCC) for people with five to eight years of experience on the job.

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