Special Report

The Most (and Least) Meaningful Jobs

15. Education administrators, preschool and childcare
> Pct. job meaning:
90%
> Employment: 46,760
> Annual median wage: $45,670
> Job satisfaction: 81%

An uncommonly high nine out of 10 education administrators who work in preschools or child care centers believe that their work makes the world a better place. As is the case in the few jobs where a similar share of workers report such fulfillment, education administrators help improve the lives of others. Job responsibilities typically include planning and directing lessons and activities for students and daycare attendees. The typical education administrator earns $45,670 a year, nearly $10,000 more than the median annual wage across all professions.

14. Medical appliance technicians
> Pct. job meaning:
90%
> Employment: 14,640
> Annual median wage: $34,890
> Job satisfaction: 78%

While most highly meaningful jobs pay relatively well, medical appliance technicians is an exception. The typical technician earns $34,890 annually, slightly less than the $36,200 median income across all occupations. Despite lower than average salaries, nine out 10 workers in the field report feeling that their job makes the world a better place. Medical appliance technicians likely derive fulfillment from helping others in need as their duties often include building and fitting medical support devices such as braces or prosthetic limbs.

13. Kindergarten teachers
> Pct. job meaning:
91%
> Employment: 158,150
> Annual median wage: $51,640
> Job satisfaction: 81%

Kindergarten teachers are primarily responsible for overseeing and promoting students’ mental, social, and emotional development by engaging them in creative activities and teaching them practical life skills such as personal hygiene. With an annual salary of $51,640, the typical kindergarten teacher earns roughly $15,000 more than the median annual income across all jobs in the U.S.

12. Rehabilitation counselors
> Pct. job meaning:
91%
> Employment: 101,630
> Annual median wage: $34,390
> Job satisfaction: 74%

While a good salary it is often a key goal for workers, money is not a direct factor in the feeling of fulfillment workers find in a job. More than nine out of every 10 rehabilitation counselors believe that their work makes the world a better place, however, the median income in the field of $34,390 a year is slightly less than the $36,200 median income across all occupations. Rehabilitation counselors typically work with veterans or the elderly, helping them cope with disabilities — physical, mental, or social — and live independently.

11. Occupational therapists
> Pct. job meaning:
91%
> Employment: 114,660
> Annual median wage: $80,150
> Job satisfaction: 77%

Helping with the rehabilitation process can be a rewarding experience, and a high share of several different kinds of therapists say they have a meaningful job. Occupational therapists work with individuals who suffer from an injury or disability and help them return to an active lifestyle. Like many occupations in the medical field, the already high demand for occupational therapists is expected to increase going forward as the number of aging Americans is projected to grow dramatically in the coming years. According to the BLS, the number of occupational therapists is expected to increase by 26.5% over the next 10 years, faster than the vast majority of jobs.