hands holding a metal square with unhappy face on it

Life’s Too Short to Hate Your Job – How to Find a Career You’ll Love

According to a Gallup poll from 2017, 85% of people worldwide hate their job. Even in the US where we have more economic freedom, 70% of people hate their jobs.  Frankly, this breaks my heart. 

Life indeed is too short to be unhappy in your job. In this post, I’ll tell you how to plan for a first or new career, share the top jobs that bring people the most meaning, satisfaction, and earnings, and how to find more information before you make this important decision.

Choose What You Do

How many times have you found yourself doing something because you just wound up doing it? You didn’t plan it. It just happened. It happened to me and most everyone else. The trouble is unless you’re lucky, that is not the way to career love.

You can choose your path. The biggest choices we make in life are who we become, who we make a life with (or don’t), how we make our income, and how we spend it. These deserve your planning and care.

I’m not an expert on love, so I won’t try to answer how to choose who you make a life with.

I do want to help you make good choices about how you make your income. Did I say choices? Yes, because with our rapid technological and societal change, you’ll never really be done adapting to something new.

It’s been said that not living your values can make you sick. With that in mind, start by knowing yourself better and knowing your options. Then you can make an informed decision in alignment with your authentic self.

Know Yourself Better

You are likely to spend your entire life getting to know yourself better, and still not keep up with your changes. The sooner you get to your core, however, the sooner you can live a life that is aligned with your values and goals. We’ll be posting more about this topic, soon.

For now, spend 30 minutes writing down 100 things you like to do. In other words, write as fast as you can so you don’t think too deeply about what you’re writing. You want the truth and this is how you get it.

When you’re done, let it sit overnight. Then come back to it, re-read and put a number from one to five next to each line (five being high) to show how important it is to you.  Give yourself 100 points to assign. If everything is equally important, then each item gets a one. You can make a running tally of the numbers as you go. If you run out of them before the end of the list, go steal some value from your other items to give to a more important one.

When you’re done with the marking, make a list of your top 5 to 10 items. For each one, start by asking “what about this is important to me?” When you have the answer, write it down, and ask the same question, but this time about your last answer. Try to do this 7 times for each of your main items. Often you will not be able to answer the question 7 times. That’s ok. Wherever you stop on each one, that’s likely to be the truth.

Group similar truths together. Now rewrite them as a list of what you really value.

This is not your true life vision, but it’s a good start at building one. You can expand on your life vision by exploring career options and asking 7 times, “What about this career is important to me?”

Explore Your Options

The best careers to explore are the ones that fit a combination of your most important criteria.

Above all, what you do each day must fit with your values. Acting out of alignment with your values can make you ill and unhappy. That’s why we started with the values exercise.

But what else is important? We’ve chosen a short list of the attributes most people seek in a career.

  • Growth – how quickly is the occupation adding new positions? All occupations as a group are expected to grow 7.4% between 2016 and 2026, the latest projection available from the U.S. Department of Labor. Growth around or above 7.4% is good. Growth Rate 2016-2026 Levels
  • Openings – how many openings are created each year? More openings mean more choices and better mobility.
Annual Openings
Annual Opening Levels

Wages – what is the median wage for this occupation? The median is the wage in the middle of all reported wages. There’s always a range of wages around the median – half above and half below.

Median Wages
 Median Wage Levels
  • Meaningful – what percentage of workers in the occupation report their job as meaningful. Having meaning is one of the keys to living a good life.
Meaningful Rating Levels
Meaningful Rating Level
  • Satisfaction – what percentage of workers rank their job as satisfying? A job can be meaningful but have very unsatisfactory working conditions.
Satisfaction Levels
Satisfaction Levels

Decide the priority you give to each of these attributes. Rank them first to last to narrow your list of occupations to a manageable number.

Next, we’ve also included several other factors that are about your education (past or future), additional training you’re willing to do, and the experience you have in a related position.

  • Education – we show multiple levels from no credential to a doctor’s degree. There are meaningful and/or satisfying occupations at all levels.
  • Experience – some jobs require no prior experience, others require more than five years in a related occupation, and some require five or less. If you’re starting your career or looking for something entirely new, look at the occupations with little to no prior experience required. If you’re upgrading your career, you can seek one requiring experience in your current position.
  • On-the-Job Training – some occupations allow you to get started as a trainee or apprentice. This factor rates the typical on-the-job training requirement.

In the following sections, you’ll find several tables of occupations. Filter using the attributes that are most important to you. TO make it easier, we’ve listed the top ones with high satisfaction, high meaning, and high growth. Explore, and click the links for more information.

If you’re interested in a custom report listing the top occupations, by education level and the rest of the high meaning or high satisfaction jobs, then enter your email for a link to your copy of the report.

Print this post out so you can make notes right on each occupation. Filter them down until you’re left with your top five or so. Then dig deeper.

The Top Jobs with High Satisfaction

Title : Radiation therapists
Code : 29-1124
Growth Rate : High
Yearly Openings : Low
Annual Wages : High
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : High
Education : Associate’s degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : None

Title : Pediatricians, general
Code : 29-1065
Growth Rate : High
Yearly Openings : Low
Annual Wages : High
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : High
Education : Doctoral or professional degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : Internship/residency

Title : Rotary drill operators, oil and gas
Code : 47-5012
Growth Rate : High
Yearly Openings : Mid-low
Annual Wages : Mid-high
Meaning : Mid-high
Satisfaction : High
Education : No formal educational credential
Experience : None
On-the-Job : Moderate-term on-the-job training

Title : Cartographers and photogrammetrists
Code : 17-1021
Growth Rate : High
Yearly Openings : Low
Annual Wages : Mid-high
Meaning : Mid-high
Satisfaction : High
Education Requirements : Bachelor’s degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : None

Title : Emergency management directors
Code : 11-9161
Growth Rate : Middle
Yearly Openings : Low
Annual Wages : High
Meaning : Mid-high
Satisfaction : High
Education : Bachelor’s degree
Experience : 5 years or more
On-the-Job : None

Title : Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators
Code : 23-1022
Growth Rate : Mid-high
Yearly Openings : Low
Annual Wages : Mid-high
Meaning : Mid-high
Satisfaction : High
Education : Bachelor’s degree
Experience : Less than 5 years
On-the-Job : Moderate-term on-the-job training

Title : First-line supervisors of police and detectives
Code : 33-1012
Growth Rate : Middle
Yearly Openings : Middle
Annual Wages : High
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : High
Education : High school diploma or equivalent
Experience : Less than 5 years
On-the-Job : Moderate-term on-the-job training

Title : Education administrators, elementary and secondary school
Code : 11-9032
Growth Rate : Middle
Yearly Openings : Mid-high
Annual Wages : High
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : High
Education : Master’s degree
Experience : 5 years or more
On-the-Job : None

Title : Chief executives
Code : 11-1011
Growth Rate : Low
Yearly Openings : Mid-high
Annual Wages : High
Meaning : Mid-high
Satisfaction : High
Education : Bachelor’s degree
Experience : 5 years or more
On-the-Job : None

Title : Clergy
Code : 21-2011
Growth Rate : Middle
Yearly Openings : High
Annual Wages : Middle
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : High
Education : Bachelor’s degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : Moderate-term on-the-job training

Title : Foresters
Code : 19-1032
Growth Rate : Mid-low
Yearly Openings : Low
Annual Wages : Mid-high
Meaning : Mid-high
Satisfaction : High
Education : Bachelor’s degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : None

Title : Psychiatrists
Code : 29-1066
Growth Rate : Mid-high
Yearly Openings : Low
Annual Wages : High
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : High
Education : Doctoral or professional degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : Internship/residency

The Top Jobs with High Meaning

Title : Radiation therapists
Code : 29-1124
Growth Rate : High
Yearly Openings : Low
Annual Wages : High
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : High
Education : Associate’s degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : None

Title : Pediatricians, general
Code : 29-1065
Growth Rate : High
Yearly Openings : Low
Annual Wages : High
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : High
Education : Doctoral or professional degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : Internship/residency

Title : Occupational therapists
Code : 29-1122
Growth Rate : High
Yearly Openings : Mid-high
Annual Wages : High
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : Mid-high
Education : Master’s degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : None

Title : Speech-language pathologists
Code : 29-1127
Growth Rate : High
Yearly Openings : Mid-high
Annual Wages : High
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : Mid-high
Education : Master’s degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : Internship/residency

Title : Health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other
Code : 29-1199
Growth Rate : High
Yearly Openings : Middle
Annual Wages : High
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : Mid-high
Education : Master’s degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : None

Title : Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists
Code : 19-3031
Growth Rate : High
Yearly Openings : Mid-high
Annual Wages : High
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : Mid-high
Education : Doctoral or professional degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : Internship/residency

Title : Dentists, general
Code : 29-1021
Growth Rate : High
Yearly Openings : Middle
Annual Wages : High
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : Mid-high
Education : Doctoral or professional degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : None

Title : Optometrists
Code : 29-1041
Growth Rate : High
Yearly Openings : Mid-low
Annual Wages : High
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : Mid-high
Education : Doctoral or professional degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : None

Title : Family and general practitioners
Code : 29-1062
Growth Rate : High
Yearly Openings : Middle
Annual Wages : High
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : Mid-high
Education : Doctoral or professional degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : Internship/residency

Title : Physical therapists
Code : 29-1123
Growth Rate : High
Yearly Openings : Mid-high
Annual Wages : High
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : Mid-high
Education : Doctoral or professional degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : None

Title : Occupational therapy assistants
Code : 31-2011
Growth Rate : High
Yearly Openings : Middle
Annual Wages : Mid-high
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : Mid-high
Education : Associate’s degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : None

Title :  Physical therapist assistants
Code : 31-2021
Growth Rate : High
Yearly Openings : Mid-high
Annual Wages : Mid-high
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : Mid-high
Education : Associate’s degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : None

Title : Health educators
Code : 21-1091
Growth Rate : High
Yearly Openings : Mid-high
Annual Wages : Mid-high
Meaning : High
Satisfaction : Mid-high
Education : Bachelor’s degree
Experience : None
On-the-Job : None

Explore Until You Find the Right Career

The jobs listed above are just some of the jobs that have a good combination of the different factors. A list of 93 jobs sorted by reasonable scores in growth rate, wages, and satisfaction is available free and can expand your understanding of what’s possible.

Find a career you love. Don’t spend another minute more than you have to in a job you hate.