Career Satisfaction: The Top 10 Best And Worst

Career satisfaction is always a hot topic.  After all, we all want to have a sense of satisfaction in our work, because we spend a huge part of our time working.  But as you might expect, it’s not always about money.   There are plenty of people out there who make a lot of money and they’re quite miserable.   On the other hand, there are lots of examples of people who have lower-paying jobs that are delighted to engage their work every single day.

There are other factors that come into play that make a particular career more rewarding.  Here’s a look at what goes into a great career,  and what 46,000 people said were the best and worst.


What We Want

When asked what goes into career satisfaction,  people’s answers almost always fall within the following areas:

  • Flexibility.   Having a career that allows greater or lesser engagement as ones personal needs and desires change.
  • Variety.  A career that isn’t repetitive, providing different task requirements that require different skills, which can include both the physical and the mental.
  • Stimulating and challenging work.  A career that demands that we think, learn, and create more tomorrow than we did today.
  • Growth potential.  The possibility for advancement both in terms of position and greater responsibility and learning opportunities.
  • Work that matters.  Being part of something that makes a real difference in the world or in the lives of people.
  • Financial rewards.  Of course, we’d all like more of the green.

Interestingly enough, the area of financial rewards was most often listed below the others.  So clearly, when we do what we do, for most of us it’s not just about the money.

What We Don’t Want

Often, we don’t know what we want or don’t want until it arrives at our doorstep.  That’s especially true of career choices, where the focus is typically on what a give career has to offer as opposed to what it lacks.  Or worse, what it sucks from the unhappy worker.  Monster sums this up in three areas:

  • Anonymity: Employees feel anonymous when their manager has little interest in them as people with unique lives, aspirations and interests.
  • Irrelevance: This condition occurs when workers cannot see how their job makes a difference. “Every employee needs to know that the work they do impacts someone’s life — a customer, a coworker, even a supervisor — in one way or another,” Lencioni says.
  • Immeasurement: This term describes the inability of employees to assess for themselves their contributions or success. As a result, they often rely on the opinions of others — usually the manager — to measure their success.

choose right job quote

The Worst and Best For Career Satisfaction

From May to July of 2016, Sokanu surveyed 46,000 people to find out who had the greatest career satisfaction.  The survey considered factors of personality fit, overall, interests, work environment, and skill utilization. Their findings for the best:

  1. CEO
  2. Film director
  3. Author
  4. Singer
  5. Entrepreneur
  6. Art Director
  7. Filmmaker
  8. Career Counsellor
  9. Industrial Designer
  10. Musician

While many on the list might be considered glamourous, only the CEO had typically high income.  And many have income realities that place them squarely in the middle class.  So the rewards of those careers include more than just the money.

On the other end, Sokanu found these ten careers held the least satisfaction:

  1. Janitor
  2. Quality control inspector
  3. House cleaner
  4. Retail salesperson/ cashier
  5. Delivery service driver/ food delivery truck driver
  6. Bank teller
  7. Food server
  8. Financial clerk
  9. Shipping/Receiving clerk
  10. Barista

When you compare the two list of best and worst with the typical call-outs for what makes a great career, it’s easy to see the relationship between them.

Your Career Satisfaction

In a TED talk, Canadian economist Larry Smith delivered a funny yet very pointed message to anyone considering career options.  He said the number of good careers are disappearing, and what’s remaining are only the great careers and  jobs are left.  What’s the difference and how do you get a great career?

A great career encompasses all the attributes listed above.  Even more, it’s energized by your own passions.  Passion is what has the potential to make essentially any career great.  So you must connect your passions to your career.  The alternative is just a job, the all-to-often mundane nine to five drudgery.

His metaphorical advice is perfect.  Don’t look for an interesting career.  You wouldn’t go to your sweetheart and say, “Will you marry me, I think you’re so interesting!”  You have to have the element of passion.  And you have to have the element of passion to create a truly great career.


Images: Main   Quote

Linda Allen

I'm a serial entrepreneur, with a resume that makes me look like a Jane of all trades. Pretty sure we are all reluctant Messiahs, travelling through life planting seeds where ever we can. Hopefully, most of mine have been good ones! MA from Miami University (Ohio, not Florida), BA from Cal State.

You may also like...