Happy Jobs: Which Occupations Can Boost Your Mood?

Merely Me Health Guide
  • If you are unhappy with your job it can really make your life miserable. Some of you have written about jobs which cause you stress, anxiety, and contribute to your depression. In the worst case scenario it may mean choosing between your job and your mental health. Some of our members are in this situation and it is not an easy decision to make especially in this economy. With all the reports of unhappiness on the job, I began to wonder if there are certain occupations which actually make people feel happy. In this post we are going to take a look at the latest research on job related happiness. Who are these happy people and what do they do for a living? We are also going to examine the least and most stressful types of jobs as well as the best careers for introverts. Get ready for some surprising discoveries about which jobs are considered the happiest in America.

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    The Least Stressful Occupations


    Everyone experiences some stress on the job. But excessive stress can lead to burn-out, missed days, and can be the deal breaker to look for a new job. For some people, a highly stressful job can cause anxiety and symptoms of depression. Stress can be highly subjective. But there are certain occupations where employees report less stress. In 2009 CareerCast provided a list of some of the least stressful jobs in America.


    These low-key jobs included:


    • Actuary

    • Dietician

    • Computer Systems Analyst

    • Statistician

    • Mathematician

    • Historian

    • Software Engineer


    If you are wondering what jobs reportedly cause the most stress, I wrote an article listing the top ten most stressful jobs in America for our Anxiety site. The list will probably not surprise you too much. Some of these highly stressful occupations include: Firefighter, corporate executive, taxi driver, surgeon, and police officer.


    The Happiest Jobs in America


    The most recent report on job related happiness comes from CareerBliss, a career website. They conducted a fairly extensive survey of 200,000 employee reviews from 70.000 jobs across the country to collect data on happiness in the workplace. According to their survey, money was not the greatest predictor of job satisfaction. Elements such as how much control the employee felt they had over day to day tasks and the quality of their relationships between bosses, co-workers, and customers correlated highly with job happiness.


    Here are the top five fields where employees report the most job satisfaction and happiness according to their survey.


    1. The Biotech Industry: Biotechnology combines biology and technology to create products useful to society such as new medications to treat disease or better tasting and nutritious foods. The jobs within this growing field of work range from scientists to technical writers.


    2. Customer Service: Key traits for customer service representatives are patience and a wish to help others. Some of the highest paid customer service professionals work for the Postal Service, making an average of $29.19 per hour. (Source: snagajob)

  • 3. Education: These are the people who teach our children in classrooms across the country.


    4. Administrative-Clerical: These are the people who provide office support and help make the company run more efficiently. There are a vast variety of positions under this umbrella including receptionists, administrative assistants, and office managers.


    5. Purchasing-Procurement: These are the professionals who negotiate in the purchase of materials and goods for companies and corporations.


    Do any of these jobs on this list surprise you? I was surprised by all of them and especially that customer service jobs were rated as the second top happiest job in America. I would imagine that such a job would be incredibly stressful in handling customer complaints. Yet perhaps there is some satisfaction when they actually do make the customer happy.

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    If you do a search for happy jobs you will find other lists out there including this one conducted by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. Their top ten list of jobs where people reported the greatest job satisfaction included: Clergy, physical therapists, firefighters (remember that this job was also cited as one of the most stressful in another report), education administrators, painters/sculptors, teachers, authors, psychologists, special education teachers and operating engineers.


    In contrast the most “unhappy jobs” were mostly menial labor jobs including roofers, waiters/servers, and cashiers.


    Factors Which Increase On-the-Job Happiness


    A 2010 article in the Washington Post explored which elements of work give people the most satisfaction. The following are some of those happy factors:


    • Doing some sort of creative work.

    • Doing work which involves caring for, teaching, or protecting others.


    Author Dan Buettner, who wrote Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way, validates this conclusion. Buettner gives this advice on an Oprah show segment on The Happiest Jobs in America: “When it comes to work you want to go after what gives you bliss and not the bucks.” It seems that some of the people who are most happy with their jobs are not making a whole heck of a lot. Many of the “happy” jobs on the lists above are ones which pay less than $50,000 a year.


    Other factors may also play a part in increasing job happiness. A 2008 study published in the journal, Work, found that task variety, working conditions, workload, and career perspectives determine one’s satisfaction with their job.


    The Value of Job Related Happiness


    In a fascinating article on CNN Money author Jeanne Sahadi reports on the findings of economists John Helliwell and Haifang Huang of the University of British Columbia. The researchers equated components of job satisfaction with a monetary value. Here are some of their findings:


    • Trust in your higher ups or management is like getting a 36% raise. (They explain that this level of trust would increase your overall life satisfaction by the same amount as that 36% raise.) Bosses and managers take note!


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    • A job which gives you a lot of variety and tasks and projects delivers the same emotional kick as a 21% increase in pay.


    • Having a job which requires a high level of expertise or skill is like getting a 19% raise.


    • If you simply are given enough time to finish your work, it can feel like getting an 11% increase in pay.



    Happy Jobs for Introverts


    Many of you have described yourselves as introverts here on MyDepressionConnection. So as a tribute to you I wanted to include a list of jobs which are said to be best suited for us shy quiet types. The editors of JIST (Job Information Seeking and Training) published a book entitled, “200 Best Jobs for Introverts.” They provide a top-25-list on their website from their book. At the top of their list is astronomer. Other occupations which could make an introvert happy include: Physicists, political scientists, computer software engineers, computer programmers, economists, geographers, space scientists, electrical engineers, and lawyers.


    But what if you are not a scientist, engineer, or into computers? What about us?


    This publishing company also provides a list of Best Jobs for Introverts Overall with a High Percentage of Workers Age 55 and Over.  Computer Systems Analyst tops this list followed by personal financial advisors. Also included in this list are plumbers, writers, technical writers, editors, bus drivers, and payroll clerks. For a more details follow the link to the JIST website to look at the entire list.


    We would like to hear from you now. Is your job or occupation on any of these lists? What are some of the features of a job which matter the most to you? Which parts of a job give you the most pleasure and overall satisfaction? Do you think that happiness is job-related or do you think that there are some people who would be unhappy at any job? Share your thoughts and stories. We want to hear what you have to say!


    For more information about mood and work please refer to the following Health Central articles:


    Looking for a Job When You are Depressed


    Ten Jobs with High Depression Rates


    Is Your Job Causing Your Depression?

Published On: July 11, 2011