The 10 Happiest Jobs


Written by Margret Aldrich, an Utne Reader blogger

Your therapist’s happiness level rises when you visit her couch. Firefighters are delighted to help you get Kitty out of a tree. Sins to confess to your priest or minister? He’s tickled to hear them.

Psychologist, firefighter, and clergy are included in the list of the “10 happiest jobs” based on data collected via the General Social Survey of the National Organization for Research at the University of Chicago, reports the Christian Science Monitor. “Since experts say that social interaction drives job satisfaction, it makes sense that clergy are happiest of all,” Christian Science Monitor writes. “Social interaction and helping people [is a] combination that’s tough to beat for job happiness.”

This formula explains why teachers and physical therapists are on the list, but also included are autonomous, creative professions like author and artist, and labor-intensive jobs like operating engineer. “Operating engineers get to play with giant toys like bulldozers, front-end loaders, backhoes, scrapers, motor graders, shovels, derricks, large pumps, and air compressors,” says the Monitor. And, “with more jobs for operating engineers than qualified applicants, no wonder they are happy.” The full list follows:

1. Clergy

2. Firefighters

3. Physical therapists

4. Authors

5. Special education teachers

6. Teachers

7. Artists

8. Psychologists

9. Financial services sales agents

10. Operating engineers

Interestingly, many of the occupations that fall at the bottom of the job-satisfaction list involve information technology, which can create isolating work, notes Forbes:

1. Director of information technology

2. Director of sales and marketing

3. Product manager

4. Senior web developer

5. Technical specialist

6. Electronics technician

7. Law clerk

8. Technical support analyst

9. CNC machinist

10. Marketing manager

Where does your job fall on the happiness scale? Are you bolstered by the helping hand you extend to others or satisfied by what you create — or should you pack it all in and learn to drive a bulldozer?

This post was originally published by the Utne Reader.


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Photo from Angelina Cupcake via flickr creative commons

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Glen P.
Glen P.4 years ago

I disagree with their reasoning on why the jobs at the bottom of the list are the least happy. It's my experience that any job that requires A LOT of mental effort on a daily basis can cause unhappiness.

Mental fatigue is far more wearying than physical fatigue or jobs where you have a more varying pace of being mentally engaged and mentally relaxed.

Emma S.
Emma S.4 years ago

It looks like I'm happy several times over - I act, write, direct and teach theatre. Financially I'm one of the poorest people I know but I do have a varied life, which brings its own riches. The only bore is the amount of admin I - like everyone, seemingly - have to do.

nicole spray

Ya'll are so wise. Omg I know why I/m not happy. I/m a creator. I love people. Aha vintaged 59 60 hey I/m here. Thank you much.

Diane B.
Diane B.4 years ago


Caitlin Fowler
Caitlin F.4 years ago

thanks for sharing

Karen Murray
Karen Murray4 years ago

@Virginia, "Mother" is a relationship, not an occupation -- though I do think this might be a better world if people had to get licenses for it.

Cindy Corkern
Cindy C.4 years ago

I can understand how an artist would be happy. I grew up dancing for years. Now that I am older, I miss it greatly. It was my creative outlet. Being stuck in an office all day hinders my creativity, and becomes so mundane.

Donna M.
Donna M.4 years ago

Currently unemployed. So to those of you who have jobs - appreciate them because unemployment sucks worse.

Doris Mason
Past Member 4 years ago

The choices that I have made in life be it,job,homemaking, parenting,and the skills that I have used have made me happy during my lifetime

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

My job of "stay at home mom" is the best "job" of all!