We often think about job satisfaction in terms of money. We think, “That neurosurgeon must be very happy, think of what he makes every week!” However, research shows that happiness and salary are not directly correlated. Instead, much research supports that people with low-paying jobs can achieve higher levels of happiness than their high-earnings peers.
There are several reasons why individuals with lower-earning careers can achieve enhanced happiness and satisfaction. One of the main reasons is because, often, low-paying jobs do not require you to do work from home. Unlike executive positions, people with many low-paying job can leave work at work, achieving a more ideal work-life balance. This allows more enhanced family time, more time to spend doing hobbies, and increased leisure time, all of which contribute to one’s happiness. Other reasons low-paying jobs can be more satisfying than high-paying jobs include the ability to make decisions without personal sacrifice, such as capital investment, and the opportunities to work directly with consumers or coworkers.
We now know that many low-paying careers are more satisfying than high-paying careers, but it’s important to consider that not all low-paying careers will make your life happier. In general, the following factors contribute to being happy at work:
-You experience challenges
-You can use creative expression
-A sense of connection to others
-No office or unique office environment
-A clear purpose with clear outcomes
-Immersive daily tasks
Based on those factors and the average income, we compiled the list of 20 low-paying jobs with high rates of job satisfaction:
20. Bank Teller
Bank tellers earn an average salary of $30,000 and typically require a having a high school diploma or equivalent in order to be considered. Bank tellers have a number of factors that contribute to their happiness. First, bank tellers are able to interact with their customers all day long, which protects against job dissatisfaction, allows for interpersonal connection, and gives an enhanced sense of purpose. Each day, they have a number of immersive tasks and manageable challenges, which make having a clear purpose with clear outcomes attainable overall. Most importantly, bank tellers have no unexpected hours or at-home requirements, allowing them to achieve a fantastic work-life balance!
19. Teaching Assistant
Becoming a teaching assistant usually requires some college education, but no degree, and typically results in earning around $31,000 per year. Teaching assistants help teachers, preschool to high school, with everyday classroom function, safety, and activities. Teaching assistants get to enjoy the positive environment of schools and working with children each and every day. Additionally, teaching assistants are often given children or groups to focus on, allowing them to see real progress and feel supported and important in their positions. Unlike regular classroom teachers, teaching assistants to do not have to spend hours after school doing grading work and lesson-planning. Instead, teaching assistants can enjoy the benefits of teaching without the hassle and stress that comes from being the teacher in charge.
18. Assistant Manager
Assistant general managers earn an average salary of $46,000, considerably less than their general managers and other administrators. Assistant managers experience an ideal balance of delegating other tasks while having achievable, yet challenging tasks to complete themselves. Assistant managers are also less likely to be stuck in an isolated office than their higher-up administrator colleagues. By supporting their boss and relating to coworkers, assistant general managers report feeling very satisfied with their daily interactions. Even more importantly, assistant managers give their coworker relationships an extremely high rating, likely achieved through relating to them more than being the head honcho.
Turns out, the Christian Bale movie wasn’t all that accurate when it came to portraying the everyday life of a modern machinist. Today, machinists earn an average salary of $38,000. Becoming a machinist requires an apprenticeship or associate’s degree, along with hours of on-the-job training. Machinists are able to achieve great happiness at work because they have many challenging and immersive tasks. Additional protective factors include positive, not forced interactions with coworkers and an untraditional office. In general, machinists have very predictable, reasonable hours and do not need to communicate at home or via email. Machinists tend to rate their coworker relationships very highly, as well as their daily job satisfaction.
The average pay for a hairstylist is $29,000 and there is a requirement for a cosmetology degree to become licensed. Hair stylists enjoy the luxury of flexible hours and controlling their own schedule with client appointments. Additionally, hairstylists are one of few careers with an ideal mix of corworker and client interactions. Hair stylists can bounce from talking with a client to chatting with a coworker, which allows them to achieve higher levels of happiness due to personal connection. While some hair stylists work from home, most hair stylists clock out when leaving their place of work and do not need to return until their next client. In terms of working with clients, most hair stylists get immense satisfaction from helping their clients look and feel better than they did when they came in. Being a hairstylist has obvious personal perks and is a great choice for someone who is artistically inclined and detail-oriented!
15. School Bus Driver
School bus drivers earn an average salary of $29,000 and the education requirements are simple: A high school diploma, GED, or its equivalent. There is no question that school bus drivers have a lot of responsibility, in terms of safely getting many children to and from school each and every day. Despite the possible stressors of late or absent children, misbehaving children, traffic problems, and inclement weather, being a school bus driver can be extremely satisfying. Like any child care position, the sense of accomplishment that comes from helping children can be very gratifying. Each time a bus driver drop children off at school or back home for the evening, a sense of accomplishment is felt. This means, school bus driver’s days are composed of a series of meaningful, challenging, yet achievable tasks. This allows for extremely high job ratings, especially because the tasks are performed outside of a traditional office.
14. Veterinary Technician
Veterinary technicians earn an average of $33,000 per year. An associate’s degree and specialized accreditation is needed to be considered for vet tech positions. Vet techs help to care for their clients’ pets by helping veterinarians or independently taking care of some less-severe issues. Vet techs are generally more satisfied at work than veterinarians because they are not responsible for some of the more serious cases of pet health. Instead, vet techs enjoy the satisfaction of working outside a typical office environment and having a series of lower-stress, accomplishable tasks for the day. Vet techs also enjoy the perks of caring for others and interacting with clients, coworkers, and animals.
Photographers earn an average of $40,280 per year and require no formal education experience. Photographers have an obvious number of job protection factors: From not having to work in an office, to working independently, to helping other people achieve their goals. Photographers can typically set their own hours, based on client work and their own niche. Wedding and event photographers do experience a “busy season,” during the warmer months, but can balance those more demanding hours with the remainder of the year, as they wish. Photographers enjoy autonomy, creative expression, unique challenges, and visible results at their jobs, all which lead to high job satisfaction.
Executive chefs or head cooks earn an average salary of $45,000. A culinary degree is sometimes preferred to become an executive chef, but is rarely required. Executive chefs can work in a range of environments, from casual restaurants to fine dining establishments, but the protective factors for job satisfaction generally remain the same. Executive chefs can enjoy creative freedom, autonomy, fast decision-making, and visible results on a daily basis. Furthermore, executive chefs get to enjoy a variety of tasks and the satisfaction of making other people happy. There is also said to be a deep level of happiness that comes from actually nourishing and feeding other people.
11. Auto Mechanic
The average annual salary for an auto mechanic is $40,000. Education requirements for auto mechanics are typically a postsecondary non-degree award. Auto mechanics have a very specialized jobs which involves diagnosing problems with and fixing other people’s cars. In fact, the more problems auto mechanics can diagnose and fix, the more work they can do for others. This allows auto mechanics to feel a sense of control and autonomy, both incredibly protective factors. Auto mechanics also enjoy enhanced happiness by working away from the desk and seeing their direct results. Auto mechanics help other people, work with their hands, and generally have no at-home requirements.
10. Research Assistant
Research assistants do not have the same rigorous academic standards as their higher-ups, instead needing only a bachelor’s degree. Making an average of $35,000 per year with very reasonable hours, research assistants typically are continuing to earn their higher degree as they work. Research assistants can enjoy a fulfilled career of earning a steady income in a positive college environment, while continuing to grow and develop as student. On average, research assistants report being very satisfied with their colleagues, work environment, and company culture. Someone considering getting a doctorate or master’s degree could benefit from research assistantship in a number of ways, including overall happiness!
9. Assistant Store Manager
Becoming an assistant store manager typically doesn’t involve needing a formal education, but some companies may prefer a college degree. Assistant store manager’s help oversee the daily activities in the store. This includes making sure all shifts are covered, employees have necessary breaks, and that merchandise is stocked and presented attractively. The daily tasks of an assistant store manager can change greatly from day-to-day, preventing burnout and allowing for problem-solving. Most assistant store managers earn around $39,000, but some can earn up to $68,000 per year. Assistant store managers rate their colleagues as the most positive aspect of their job, but have very high job satisfaction rates overall.
8. Loan Processor
Loan processors are one of the most corporate positions one can apply for without a college degree. Typically requiring only a high school diploma, or its equivalent, the loan processing position allows for problem-solving, good hours, and a generally good work environment. Sometimes called loan clerks or loan interviewers, this position is one that most people will encounter in their lifetime. Loan processors meet with individuals or couples to gather all relevant information in order to establish the proper loan amount, if any, from the bank. This is a detail-oriented position that can give great satisfaction to individuals who enjoy seeing tasks through completion and following intricate guidelines. Loan processors earn $40,000 on average per year.
7. Production Supervisors
Production supervisors earn a moderate salary of $54,000, but report extremely high satisfaction rates at their places of employment. The high rate of satisfaction is specifically related to loan processors’ high opinions of both their colleagues and their daily work requirements. Production supervisors enjoy a nice balance of responsibility, delegation, and no personal investments (like the head honcho) at their workplace. Most days for production supervisors can vary in terms of hourly tasks, allowed for an enriched work life. In terms of work-life balance, most production manager positions have traditional hours and do not require nights and weekends. This position requires a bachelor’s degree, but is compensated well in terms of job responsibilities.
For some individuals, making other people feel good is invaluable. That’s a big part of the reason estheticians experience such high job satisfaction. An average esthetician makes $35,000 per year, depending on clients and days worked. Many estheticians experience a busy season in the summer, when more weddings and events are held. Toward the holidays, estheticians can enjoy more time with friends and family. Most often, estheticians have the ability to create their own schedule by timing client appointments when it is most convenient. Estheticians are also able to work from home or go to other people’s homes or events, avoiding the dissatisfaction that can come from working in an office every day.
It’s often clear for certain people that working with their hands is their gift early on in life. That being said, it can be difficult to find a career with high job satisfaction and job security, where hands-on labor is a safe part of each and every day. Carpentry allows for these people to have steady, well-paying jobs they can feel great about. On average, carpenters earn $46,000 per year and live enriched lives with diverse projects and clientele. Carpenters have high happiness rates that are attributed to working outside, seeing direct results, autonomy, and the variety of work.
4. Event Planner
Have you planned a wedding or big event for yourself? Do you remember having to count every penny, worried that you might be tracking your budget wrong – or, even worse – there was a better deal out there? Did you doubt your style choices or aesthetic for the event? Event planners get to help each client avoid all of this stress, while avoiding the stress of having it be their own personal event. Event planners keep a clear mind and even temperament to help people achieve their aesthetic goals at events while staying within a budget. Event planners have high job satisfaction related to an untraditional work environment, autonomy, creativity, flow, and seeing direct results. The average event planner earns $51,000 per year and enjoys a boost in salary during the warmer months.
3. Interior Designer
Some people are born with creative flare and style. Interior design allows for artistic and creative, yet organized, individuals to help clients achieve their design goals in their own homes or offices. Interior designers have good attention-to-detail, style, communication, and organization. This position allows for a satisfying mix of problem-solving and detail-oriented skills (such as staying in budget) while also allowing for personal achievements and creativity in the design itself. Interior designers enjoy helping clients reach their goals, working independently, and getting out of the office. This position earns around $50,000 per year.
2. Surgical Technologist
Surgical technologists earn an average of $45,000 per year. Surgical technologists ensure that the operating room is a safe, well-oiled machine during all procedures. To become a surgical technologist, you typically need an associate’s degree and can plan to work in a hospital. Most surgical technologists spend most of their time on their feet, so this position is wonderful for someone who is active or gets bored sitting at a desk all day. This field is growing at a rate much higher than other fields, which can give surgical technologists a feeling of security and easier employment after college. Surgical technologists have high happiness rates attributed to an active work lifestyle (no desk), a clear purpose, and good job variety.
1. Preschool Teacher
Earning an average salary of $28,000 per year, there is no doubt that being a preschool teacher requires a certain personality. To be an effective preschool teacher (and enjoy the position!) one must be patient, kind, and good with children. Unlike being a school teacher, preschool teachers do not require a master’s degree at all levels. In fact, you can become a substitute or long-term replacement teacher with just a high school degree. Preschool teachers have active positions which require walking, running, and more each and every day. Being a preschool teacher is very rewarding in seeing children learn and develop. Preschool teachers enjoy traditional work hours and rate positive relationships with their coworkers and their active, creative positions as their highest happiness factors.
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