Which jobs feel the most meaningful? Do those rewarding professions pay well, or do they require a sacrifice in salary?

To find out, PayScale asked over two million workers whether their work makes the world a better place. The researchers then looked at how "job meaning" compares with salary for workers in 24 job categories and 500 unique job titles.

Overall, relatively few jobs have both very high pay and very high job meaning, the report found, with most of those being in the medical field.

Surgeons have the highest on median salary of the job titles examined ($304,000) and have the second-highest job meaning (96% say their work makes the world a better place, tied with post-secondary English language and literature teachers and directors of religious activities and education).

Clergy members of all denominations have the highest overall job meaning, with 98% saying that their work makes the world a better place.

In terms of categories rather than specific titles, military jobs have the highest meaning, with 88% of military-specific occupation workers saying they make the world a better place.

Community and social service workers, as well as education, training and library workers, also rate their jobs as extremely meaningful despite lower pay. Women are more likely to work in those sorts of low-paying but high-meaning jobs, the analysis found, which contributes to an overall difference in pay between genders.

The least meaningful job categories are food preparation along with service and sales (39% of workers in each think their job is meaningful).

Computer and mathematical workers have the highest median salaries of any category ($72,900), but only 44% think their jobs are meaningful. 

The job title with the lowest meaning is parking lot attendant, with only 5% saying their job makes the world a better place.

Enter your email address to continue reading

The Most and Least Meaningful Jobs

Don't worry...it's free!

Already a member? Sign in now.

Sign in with your preferred account, below.

Did you like this article?
Know someone who would enjoy it too? Share with your friends, free of charge, no sign up required! Simply share this link, and they will get instant access…
  • Copy Link

  • Email

  • Twitter

  • Facebook

  • Pinterest

  • Linkedin


image of Ayaz Nanji

Ayaz Nanji is a writer, editor, and a content strategist. He is a co-founder of ICW Media and a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji