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How to Find Career Satisfaction – and 10 of the Most Rewarding Jobs 

By Careers Desk

Thursday, November 26, 2020.

Ask any kid what they want to be when they are older and most will reply with some wildly-aspirational vocation like footballer, astronaut, doctor or scientist. 

As adults,  it’s often tempting to laugh in amusement when we hear such fanciful notions – but, really, maybe we should ask ourselves why. Perhaps it’s because we’ve let the humdrum reality of life taint our ambitions – maybe a life of bills and responsibilities has changed our view on the world – or perhaps it’s because we simply let ourselves lose direction. After all, we were all young once and most likely also shared these apparently unrealistic life goals. 

The truth is, when we’re young, we tend not to focus on the boring realities of life like money or stability, so, when asked what we want to do when we’re older, we use our imagination and put satisfaction before pay or other such dull things. 

It’s an unfortunate truth but perhaps, as we age, we let these factors distract us from following what we really should be doing as a job. Maybe we inadvertently end up prioritizing money before what would really make us happy.

Job satisfaction comes from many diverse factors

While it can often be tempting to consider salary the over-riding factor in job satisfaction, actually there is increasing evidence to suggest that true career contentment comes from a huge variety of other factors - with pay frequently noted much further down the list.

Indeed, a widely-respected survey of over 200,000 employees by the Boston Consulting Group found there are many elements that contribute to overall job satisfaction, including:

  • Appreciation for your work – typically from bosses, fellow workers or customers 

  • Good relationships with fellow workers in the workplace

  • Attaining an acceptable work-life balance 

  • Maintaining positive relationships with superiors 

  • The overall financial stability of the employing company

  • Opportunities for learning and career development 

  • Employment security 

  • An attractive, reliable fixed salary 

  • Doing an interesting and varied job 

  • The company’s values

It seems happiness at work involves much more than just pecuniary recompense and the picture is clearly much more complex than just a question of what we earn. Ask anyone why they’re wearing a smile after a day at work and they’re far more likely to recount being valued or feeling they made a difference than the money they earned as the reason for their happiness.

If you find yourself in a job that’s getting you down, perhaps it’s time to consider a career change. Here are just a few vocations frequently listed as having the highest job satisfaction and contentment. 

Family Nurse Practitioner

Nursing constantly features in top-10 lists of career satisfaction and the occupation is also widely regarded as being one of the most important in society. Nursing is a hugely varied sector with opportunities to specialize in particular disciplines, giving access to a diversity of job roles that simply can’t be matched in most other professions. Of these, the family nurse practitioner is the most common, accounting for around 65% of all nursing certifications. 

Nurses work with doctors, surgeons and other medical practitioners to ease or eradicate the pain or discomfort of patients. Moreover, nurses work with people of all ages, from all backgrounds and have the skills to diagnose and treat a variety of different ailments. 

This sense of making a real difference to the lives of others is undoubtedly a source of great personal satisfaction and a sense of caring is what leads most nurses into the profession. Indeed, if you find yourself asking, “why become a family nurse practitioner,” the job most likely isn’t for you. The desire to follow a career in nursing tends to be in-built – almost a yearning or calling – based on a strong desire to help others.

Teacher (kindergarten, middle or high school)

Working as a teacher means changing the future of the world by having a positive influence on tomorrow’s adults. Most of us remember a favorite teacher (or teachers) at school for the worldly knowledge and guidance they bestowed on us. 

Teaching covers all age groups. Kindergarten and elementary teachers give base knowledge, confidence and a sense of being to youngsters as they slowly develop into young adults. Middle school teachers help teenagers find themselves and understand their place in the world while also offering the fundamentals of education that will last well into later life. By the time kids reach high school, teachers offer guidance, behavior skills and mentoring that helps young adults forge their way through life. 

Aside from being a parent (which many would argue is a job itself), there can be few more rewarding careers than teaching for making a positive impact on society and the world as a whole. 

Speech therapist

Speaking is fundamental to life and, despite the rise in technologies like email or messaging, remains our primary method of communication. Speech therapists make a massive impact on the lives of others unfortunate enough to have problems with speaking, eating, drinking or swallowing.

Speech therapists will typically operate in a variety of care settings (for example, hospitals, nursing homes or schools) working with a huge range of different patients from various backgrounds – everything from kids with learning difficulties to patients recovering from strokes or head trauma. 

This highly rewarding job gives therapists the chance to make a real difference to others and lets them see the tangible benefits in the form of improved confidence, body functions, speech and interaction with others. 

Charity work

No area of work sums up the old saying, “It is more better to give than to receive,” than working for a charity. Also, while the word ‘charity’ might suggest zero income, actually there are several paid positions within most of the bigger organizations, meaning you could still have a sustainable income while making a real difference to those in need. Roles like managers, funding organizers and volunteer coordinators all often command a salary.


Very much at the other end of the pay-scale lie surgeons. However, ask any practitioner their reason for following this career path and you’ll be unlikely to hear they were in any way money-motivated. Rather, surgeons are much like nurses – answering an in-built calling to help people medically. Regardless, when you consider the inherent stresses of working in this role, a surgeon’s pay is more than deserved.

Again, much like nursing, a career as a surgeon offers huge diversity in terms of the various specialist paths you might take.

Funeral director

Look in any list of the most stressful experiences we endure through life and the death of a loved one always features top. Many say we never properly deal with losing someone close, rather we slowly come to accept it. 

The importance of the role played by a funeral director cannot be overstated, offering the bereaved the chance of a final farewell and helping with the process of laying to rest a loved one. Often the trauma of experiencing death is overwhelming, leaving families bereft and unable to deal with the extra added pressure of arranging the last goodbye. A funeral director helps families by planning and conducting the entire service and funeral, from start to finish. 

Relationship counselor

Staying loyal and true to a significant other through life can sometimes be challenging but very often relationships fail through no fault of the couples involved. Relationships frequently become stressed or pressured by external influences, sometimes making partners lose their way or fall out of love without any tangible or obvious reason why.

Relationship counselors work with couples to explore the factors that might have created problems in their reltionship – and encourage them to listen to one another to hopefully bring an increased understanding of unresolved grievances. While a counselor won’t offer advice as such, the process of discovery by partners listening to each other is often enough to rekindle old feelings. A relationship counselor will ask questions to help couples explore and share their emotions openly. 

Life coach or mentor

We all lose our way from time to time and it can often be very useful to have the ear and advice of someone more knowledgeable, impartial or understanding rather than just hearing our own internal dialogue. 

The point of a life coach isn’t so much to dictate direction but more to allow an individual to explore their inner selves and find motivation and direction through otherwise tricky times. Often the encouragement or enthusiasm gained from speaking to another person is enough to promote positive life changes and help us attain our goals. 


There is no greater gift than life and helping a couple bring a new person into the world must surely be one of the biggest accomplishments any of us could hope to achieve. Although technically a part of nursing, a degree in midwifery is an extremely specialized qualification, normally taking four years to attain. Still, there can be few more privileged roles than to actively change the future of humanity by helping continue the human race. 

Pet welfare and rehoming

Animal abuse and neglect is a growing problem around the world and the number of stray cats and dogs on our streets has never been higher. Pet welfare officers work to find a new home for otherwise ownerless animals, pairing pets with the most suitable families to give them a whole new life in a stable and loving home. 

Very often abandoned pets have been subject to terrible abuse or neglect, resulting in complex needs. A pet welfare officer is responsible for being the first point of care, to help resolve animal’s issues before finding them the best and most suitable new owners. 

How to Find Career Satisfaction – and 10 of the Most Rewarding Jobs

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