Whatever career you are in now, you must have at some point questioned yourself about choosing between making money and making a difference in the world. According to a recently released report by Payscale, it’s reported that most workers who have the most satisfying or meaningful jobs, yet receive the least pay, are from the public sector. Society will value these kind of workers because of the value that they add, and not necessarily what they earn at the end of the day.
While these jobs might be low paying, the workers in these fields believe that what they do for a living is meaningful since it directly impacts and improves the lives of other people. However, it’s important to understand the difference betweeen job meaning and job satisfaction. Professionals in the first category get the societal benefit, while the latter are professionals that actually enjoy their jobs.
It’s because of this that we compiled this list of 20 meaningful jobs with terrible pay. While these professionals might not be happy with what they get paid at the end of the day, their jobs are extremely satisfying to them. If you thought you hate your job due to the low pay, here are people who are content with getting paid poorly and still enjoy their job.
20. Clergy Members
First up on this list is our beloved clergy. It’s no surprise that clergy people actually admit that their jobs make the world a better place and that they actually enjoy doing it. However, according to them, dedicating your life and work for religious purposes and religious institutions will never make you rich. However, this kind of service rewards them in another way. According to Payscale, clergy members get a lot of satisfaction doing their work, and 98% of them find their work to be meaningful. Clergy members are paid a median of $46,000 per year. What do you think about that? Would it make you feel good inside working as a clergyman for such little pay?
19. English Teacher
If you are an English major, then you probably know by now that you won’t be the richest person in your click of friends. You probably wouldn’t be rich at all. If you love English and literature so much that you would work yourself through 7 years of college to earn yourself a degree and a teaching job, then you will most likely feel good about yourself and your work despite your minimal pay. According to Payscale, 98% of English and Literature teachers find their job meaningful and satisfying. The median pay of a Literature or English teacher is $43,600 per year.
18. Sign Language Interpreters
Well, this has to be a difficult. However, professionals in this field find this job completely satisfying and meaningful. They admit that helping those that lack hearing capabilities makes them feel amazing on the inside. While you might need to learn the language afresh through training, which will take more than a year, the pay is considerably low. According to Payscale, Sign Language Interpreters earn a national median of $40,200 per year. They, however, reported a high job meaning of 100%. If you thought your job was difficult, then you probably want to think of these professionals and what they earn.
17. Rehabilitation Counselors
Ever had a drug addiction problem? Probably not. But we all know a person who’s dealing with drug problems. Being a rehab counsellor isn’t the easiest job on earth, and it would take an extremely patient person to execute these duties and still find the job rewarding, for little pay. Rehabilitating from drug use or alcohol addiction isn’t an easy task. However, the experiences change lives. Rehabilitation counselors don’t get paid a lot, but 91% of them find their jobs to be very meaningful. The national mean pay for rehabilitation counselors is $39,100 per year.
16. Kindergarten Teachers
Love playing with and hanging around kids? If you don’t, then imagine how hectic it has to be for a kindergarten teacher, as they spend typically more than 6 hours per day around children, 5 days a week. That’s more than their parents! Well, teaching in kindergarten isn’t all about painting and telling stories. Kindergarten teachers work tirelessly to set up their student to be successful for a lifetime. These teachers have the highest job meaning and satisfaction rates of any of the K-12 teachers. 91% of them find their jobs meaningful even though their national median pay is only $39,000 annually.
Do you know anyone who works in the medical field? Well, you are probably thinking of doctors and nurses. Have you ever thought about the work an epidemiologist does for a living? If keeping our world safe from rapidly spreading diseases isn’t making the world a better place, then it’s unclear what is. Epidemiologists work to protect us from harmful diseases like Ebola, SARS and whatever the latest strain of flu going around is. It didn’t come as a surprise that 91% of the people in this field felt good about their job. On average, Epidemiologists are paid a median of $69,000 annually.
14. Occupational Therapist
Yet another medic makes it on this list. So what do occupational therapist do that makes them paid minimally compared to other professionals, yet makes them feel like their work is meaningful? Well, these medics’ job is to work with recovering patients that mainly suffer from cognitive or developmental conditions. They help these particular patients improve their motors skills, making it easier for them to move around. Their work has a significant impact on the lives of those they assist, which is the reason why occupational therapists have made it on this list of people with jobs that make them feel extremely nice inside.
They’re probably the least paid medical workers in the US, but chiropractors find their jobs to be fulfilling. Ever had a severe backache that just won’t go away? Well, chiropractors have just the cure for you. They help masses of people who have that same feeling, and according to Payscale’s report, they have seriously meaningful jobs. This is because chiropractors believe that their job makes the world a better place. 92% of chiropractors feel that their jobs are meaningful despite the fact that their median pay is $62,000 per year. Next time you have a backache or a sore neck, you better visit a chiropractor, their services are amazing.
12. Directors of Religious Activities and Education
This is yet another religious job that the Payscale report stated was low paying yet meaningful to those who practice it. Directors of Religious Activities and Education are normally not ordained, but they still overlook programs for congregation members. While this might not be the best paying job, they admit that it offers them a lot of satisfaction. The typical median pay for a Director of Religious Activities and Education is $37,600 per year. It’s clearly not a lot, however 97% of these professionals say their job makes the world a much better place.
11. Child Life Specialist
A Child Life Specialist is a professional that helps young children and their families both physically and emotionally to cope with injury, illnesses, trauma, disability, and in most cases hospitalization. While this might be one of the most difficult tasks for anyone to execute, these professionals claim that it offers them inner happiness and satisfaction for the care and support that they offer to the ailing young ones. Child Life Specialist (CCLS) get a national median annual salary of $39,000. This might seem like low pay for all the hard work they do, but 100% of them feel that this job has a lot of meaning to them.
10. Water Plant Operator
They manage and operate a system of machines, often through control boards, to transfer or treat waste water. This particular occupation is very important for human livelihood, and these people ensure that you get water whenever you need it, and that it’s healthy and clean for your consumption. Their line of work is very important to society, and they often cover long shifts or even have to go to work at odd hours just to make sure that you always have an adequate supply of water. Their mean pay is about $35,000, and while this might be minimal, 100% report high job meaning.
9. Adult Literacy, Remedial Education, GED Teacher
Ever tried to teach and elderly person anything? Well, this is never an easy task. This is because it’s much harder for adults to learn things quickly as compared to children. This means that teachers will have a much more difficult task offering education to these adults. While this line of work might be difficult, Adult Literacy and Remedial Education Teachers find satisfaction in teaching older people. They believe that it’s like offering someone a second chance at education. Adult Literacy and Remedial Education Teachers earn about $38,400 per year. This is considerably low for the amount of work that they actually do, however 100% of them feel that their job has meaning.
8. Crime Scene Investigators (CSI)
CSIs are like superheroes thanks to Hollywood. So how much do you think crime scene investigators actually get paid? Well, not a lot. These undercover men and women work because they find their jobs fulfilling. While Hollywood might make them look like superstars, and they clearly make our lives a lot easier by reducing crime, Crime Scene Investigators only make a median of $37,500 per year. The reason they work with so much dedication is because they believe that they are making the world a much better place by uncovering the story behind the crime. 93% of Crime Scene Investigators feel their profession has meaning to them.
7. Park Rangers
A lot of you might feel this is the best job on earth since park rangers get to spend time in a park and see wild animals all day, and for free! However, besides the fun part, there’s the dark side. There are all types of danger in the park, and half the time park rangers spend their time rescuing animals or people who get lost in the parks they work at. While this might seem like a fun job to do, Park rangers are paid minimally, $34,000 per year. Clearly, they must be paying the park fees if that’s what they earn. However, Park Rangers feel like the work they do benefits society, and in turn, rewards them. According to Payscale, 92% of Park Rangers feel their jobs are fulfilling.
If there are heroes amongst us, then it has to be the soldiers. These brave men and women sacrifice their time and youth to serve and protect the flag. They literally risk their lives every day to ensure that we are safe, and for that reason, they receive the most respect in society. Soldiers love what they do, and they believe that their work has a lot of meaning, especially to the people of the country that they serve. While they get a paid a median annual salary of $41,300, 91% of them still believe that their profession has meaning to them.
5. Mental Health Therapist
Hollywood has done a number on these professionals. In most movies they are seen as vicious people who enjoy enslaving their patients in mental institutions. However, in real life, Mental Health Therapists are a patient caring lot. Their years of training simply allow them to understand their patients better. Working in a mental institution is clearly a difficult task, and a lot of people would rather not. However, this lot believe that the work they do for the mentally challenged helps the society they live in. Mental Health Therapists are paid a median of $41,200 annually. 90% of them believe that their jobs are meaningful.
4. Art Teachers
We all remember out art teachers, they had a lot of faith and belief in us and worked so hard to bring out our artistic nature. Teaching art is one of the hardest things any teacher can do since it involves a lot of practice, and most of the time it rarely bears any fruit. Art teachers are among the hardest working teachers; they do their work because they love and have a passion for art, and what excites them the most is to bring out the artistic side of a person. Art teachers don’t get paid a lot, their median pay is about $40,000, and they feel passionate about themselves when they teach art.
3. Social Workers
Social workers have the hardest time working, and it takes a really passionate person to execute this job well. Their professional and academic practice prepares them to be facilitators of the community, individuals, and even families. Their work will promote social change and bring some sort of cohesion and responsibility in the society. They enhance our lives and ensure that the families they work with live well without abuse. While it’s never rosy when you are reported to a social worker, especially when it involves your family, their work is meant to create a better living for all. Social workers don’t get paid a lot, just about $34,900. However, 89% of them feel that their jobs are fulfilling.
2. Personal Trainers
If you attend the gym regularly or know any personal trainers, then you know these guys are relentless, no matter how much weight you put on over the holidays, they are always determined to help you drop it again. They have a varying degree of knowledge in fitness, and they have a knack for setting goals and providing feedback and accountability to clients. If you have a great fitness instructor, you will be able to move mountains! Sadly enough, personal trainers don’t get paid a lot, not as much as they should anyway. However, most of them admit that their jobs have meaning and according to Payscale 88% of them find their jobs fulfilling.
Well, if there is someone who’s job focusses on ensuring that you arrived safely on earth, it’s the midwife. They specialize in pregnancy, child life and women’s sexual and reproductive health. They are also trained to recognize the variations of the normal progress of women’s labor and how to deal with the deviations from normal. They can discern signs that might require intervention in high-risk situations like during twin births or breech births. This job is hectic and overly emotional. Midwives love their jobs, and according to Payscale, 93% of them feel their jobs are meaningful. Their median pay is $53,000.
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