The Most (and Least) Satisfied Professions

Michael B. Sauter, Alexander, Samuel

7. Farming, Fishing or Forestry
> Job types: Fishermen, lumberjacks, farmers
> Well-being index score: 68.12
> Obesity: 75.8%
> Pct. with health insurance: 72.0%
> Pct. satisfied with job: 90.3%

Workers in the farming, fishing and forestry industry score well in some categories of well-being and poorly in others. These workers had the second-best emotional health, according to Gallup, with only physicians faring better. More than 93% of these workers indicated that they were treated with respect in the past day, higher than any other occupations. People in this sector also scored higher than all but doctors in terms of healthy behaviors. Despite that, they had the second-worst physical health index score, perhaps due to the demanding physical labor of their jobs. More than 31% had recurring back and neck pain in the past 12 months, while more than 26% had knee or leg pain. Both figures were the highest among all professions.

6. Nurse
> Job types: Licensed nurse, registered nurse
> Well-being index score: 71.6
> Obesity: 74.8%
> Pct. with health insurance: 91.7%
> Pct. satisfied with job: 91.4%

Nurses were among the most likely professionals to evaluate their lives positively. They gave higher grades to both their life currently and in the next five years than nearly all other workers. Unfortunately, nurses also had among the worst grades on Gallup’s physical health index, and were the least likely workers to feel well-rested, or to have enough energy to accomplish what they wanted to. Also, more than 91% of nurses reported having some health problem when surveyed — higher than all but one profession. The median wage for licensed nurses was more than $40,000 a year in 2010 — above the median pay for all workers of $33,840. For registered nurses — who have a degree from an approved program as well as a license — the median wage was nearly $65,000 a year.

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5. Manager, Executive or Official
> Job types: CEO, executive director
> Well-being index score: 72.3
> Obesity: 74.8%
> Pct. with health insurance: 91.9%
> Pct. satisfied with job: 90.3%

Managers and executives scored in the top half of all occupations in every single well-being category. The well-being category where these professionals scored the highest was in work environment, scoring higher than all but business owners and physicians. Nearly 62% of respondents in this occupation indicated that they felt their supervisor treated them like a partner, higher than all other 13 of the 14 professions surveyed. The professional satisfaction and overall health of those in executive positions is likely bolstered by their high pay. The median pay for top executives in 2010 was $101,250.

4. Professional (Excluding Physicians, Nurses and Teachers)
> Job types: Lawyer, accountant, engineer
> Well-being index score: 73.0
> Obesity: 78.0%
> Pct. with health insurance: 93.2%
> Pct. satisfied with job: 90.4%

Professional workers include architects, engineers, lawyers and computer programmers, among others. Requirements for these positions vary. Architects and lawyers require both professional degrees and licensing, while computer programmers can start with just a bachelor’s degree. Workers in these positions self-reported especially high scores in physical health, trailing only physicians. They were among the least likely workers surveyed to report being sick within the past day or to suffer from any form of recurring pain. Based on their self evaluations of their lives, nearly two-thirds of such workers were described by Gallup as “thriving,” behind only physicians and teachers.

3. Business Owners
> Job types: Contractor, store owner, entrepreneur
> Well-being index score: 73.4
> Obesity: 79.5%
> Pct. with health insurance: 77.6%
> Pct. satisfied with job: 93.3%

Business owners are more likely than any other class of workers to rate their work environment highly. Over 93% of business owners said they were satisfied with their job or the work they did, higher than any occupation except for physician. Additionally, nearly 89% of business owners reported their work environment was trusting and open — by far the highest of any type of worker. According to the BLS, as of February there were almost 14.5 million self-employed workers, down from nearly 15.9 million five years prior.

2. Teacher
> Job types: High school, special education teacher, teacher assistants
> Well-being index score: 73.6
> Obesity: 79.4%
> Pct. with health insurance: 95.7%
> Pct. satisfied with job: 91.1%

Teachers had higher self-evaluations of their lives than workers in every other occupation beside physicians. Nearly 70% of teachers qualifying as “thriving” based on their current and expected future quality of life. Teachers were also the most likely workers to report they smiled or laughed, experienced enjoyment or experienced happiness within the past day. Teachers surveyed also regularly practiced healthy behaviors. More than 64% ate at least five servings of fruits and vegetables at least four days a week, second only to nurses, and just under 6% smoked, less than only physicians. According to the BLS, median pay for “education, training and library occupations” was just over $45,000 in 2010 — higher than the median for all occupations.

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1. Physician
> Job types: Internist, obstetrician, anesthesiologist
> Well-being index score: 78.0
> Obesity: 86.0%
> Pct. with health insurance: 96.7%
> Pct. satisfied with job: 95.5%

Physicians ranked higher than every other profession due to top marks in life evaluation, healthy behaviors, emotional and physical health, as well as access to basic needs. Physicians were by far the most likely professionals to be described by Gallup as “thriving.” They were also less likely than any other workers to have felt sad or angry in the past day, and the most likely to have the energy needed to be productive. Physicians are often exceptionally well-paid. According to the Medical Group Management Association, primary care physicians earned a median annual compensation of more than $200,000, while for those with medical specialties the figure exceeded $350,000.