It would be tough to guess the six careers with the happiest workers in America, simply because they represent a diversity of industries. It’s a hodge-podge list that includes science, finance, sales, real estate, manufacturing, and technology. The top six careers of 2014 are based on data from CareerBliss, which analyzed over 450 job titles and 57,000 CareerBliss-based job reviews.
Employees were asked to rate several aspects of their job on a scale from one to five. The features or facets that they rated included work environment, work-life balance, compensation, relationship with boss and coworkers, company culture, jobs resources, level of work control, and daily tasks. Each review was then assigned an average score based on the employee’s responses.
It may be surprising to learn that compensation plays a very small part in the career listed as the happiest job in the country. This occupation pays slightly less than the $34,750 median annual wage of the average U.S. worker. In addition, the highest-paid salary on the list is a little over $64,000. While our culture generally subscribes to the belief that more money makes people happier, this list may challenge that notion.
The educational requirements for the jobs on the list also vary, and range from a high school diploma to a graduate degree. However, four of the jobs can be performed without a college degree, which also challenges the traditional role of education in the pursuit of a “successful” career.
More than anything, the list may cause some to reconsider the definition of success, and the relationship between education, money, success, and happiness.
If success is defined by happiness, then on-the-job happiness may be determined more by autonomy, meaningful work, and a pleasant work environment than by the size of a paycheck.
6 Controllers – Happiness Score: 3.93
The average annual income for controllers is $64,100. The ability to serve in a leadership role while working independently, and using analytical skills to achieve results both contribute to the happiness factor for controllers.
According to the BLS, controllers oversee an organization’s financial activities, usually supervising the accounting, audit, and budget departments. They summarize the organization’s current financial position and make projections regarding the financial future of the organization. The primary concern of a controller is safeguarding the company’s assets, and managing and reducing financial risks.
The minimum educational requirement to be a controller is a bachelor’s degree in accounting, economics, business administration, or a related field. However, some employers prefer a master’s degree in one of these areas.
5 Sales Representatives – Happiness Score: 3.93
Sales representatives earn an average annual income of $62,400. They usually determine their own work schedules, work independently, and experience high levels of achievement and accomplishment – factors which provide gratification and job satisfaction.
Sales representatives may specialize in a variety of areas, including technical, pharmaceutical, medical, or mechanical products. They assist clients with product selections, handle contracts and orders, and negotiate prices and service agreements.
A high school diploma is sufficient for some positions, while a bachelor’s degree in a related field may be necessary for scientific, medical and technical sales representatives.
4 Loan Officers – Happiness Score: 3.95
The average annual income of loan officers is $54,200. Their work provides contentment because they work in a noncompetitive work environment where they provide a valuable service to clients, and they also have a great deal of freedom in the decision-making process.
Loan officers meet with applicants to explain different types of loans and to answer questions. They also gather and analyze an applicant’s financial information, check background credit information, and ultimately decide an applicant’s ability to qualify for and repay a loan.
Loan officers usually have a bachelor’s degree, but individuals with a high school diploma who are experienced in banking, sales, or customer service may also be considered. Mortgage loan officers must be licensed, which requires 20 hours of coursework and successful passage of a mortgage loan originator exam.
3 Realtors - Happiness Score: 4.03
Realtors earn an average annual salary of $53,800. Some realtors work from home instead of an office, and they usually set their own schedules and work independently, which may contribute to their high level of job-related happiness. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 52 percent of realtors are self-employed.
Realtors help clients buy, sell and rent properties. They also help sellers and landlords determine the appropriate selling price, and they help buyers negotiate the best purchase price. In addition, realtors conduct open houses and help sellers stage properties for maximum appeal. The educational requirement for realtors is usually a high school diploma. However, they must also be licensed, which entails the completion of real estate courses and the successful passage of an exam.
2 Quality Assurance Analysts – Happiness Score: 4.06
The average annual salary of quality assurance analysts is $58,000. They experience a high level of job security, independence, and variety, in addition to good working conditions. QA analysts design test scenarios for computer software. They also identify and track the resolution of such software problems such as bugs and defects, and they ensure the software’s usability and functionality. In addition, QA analysts provide the information used for design assessments, and they review technical documentation for accuracy. The educational requirement for QA analysts is usually a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field.
1 Research/Teaching Assistants – Happiness Score: 4.13
Research/teaching assistants earn an average annual salary of $33,600. A sense of accomplishment and autonomy may contribute to the cheerful attitude of these employees.
Job duties may vary, but generally, research and teaching assistants help teachers or professors with lesson plans and grades. They may also assist with medical and scientific research by locating and interviewing study subjects, performing research and evaluating data.
Depending on the employer, teaching assistants who work in elementary and secondary schools may have a high school diploma or an associate’s degree. Research and teaching assistants who work at the university level or for such organizations as hospitals and laboratories usually have at least a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a science-related field, although some have -- or are working on -- a master’s degree.