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Jobs that Make Our World a Better Place

Posted by Katie Bardaro

The Thanksgiving Holiday is a time to give thanks and recognize the people who contribute to our wellbeing. These people include the teachers who impart wisdom on our children, the doctors who ensure our health, and volunteers who are vital to the success of our social programs.

In fact, there are many jobs that help to make our world a better place; some of which might not come to mind immediately.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we at PayScale decided to create a list of "Jobs that Make the World a Better Place." In this post, I will look at those jobs whose workers deserve our thanks, and how they are monetarily rewarded for their efforts.

Are you curious if you're paid what you're worth? Find out with a free PayScale Salary Report.

Most Meaningful Jobs in America

In working with Money Magazine to create a list of the Best Jobs in America, we surveyed a sample of over 35,000 people on whether they felt their job made the world a better place. We then defined the 10 most meaningful jobs from the list of Best Jobs. Unsurprisingly, 7 of the 10 jobs are involved in healthcare.

However, this list has two main limitations: 1) Only high-paying (>$65,000 national median pay) jobs are included; and 2) Only jobs where workers typically hold at least a bachelor's degree are included. These stipulations cut out jobs such as elementary school teacher and fire fighter.

Using an updated sample of ~40,000 respondents, we created a new list of the Most Meaningful Jobs in America. These are the jobs where the largest percent of respondents feel their job make the world a better place. There are two caveats: 1) We only include jobs where there is sufficient data, and 2) In order to keep the list varied, we grouped similar jobs.

Below is a table showing the 35 Most Meaningful jobs in America, the industry, similar Job titles/specialties, and the percentage of survey respondents who feel their job makes the world a better place.

Job Title

Industry

Similar Jobs/ Specialties

% of respondents who think their job makes the world a better place

Chaplain

Religion

Pastor, Minister, Priest, Rabbi

92%

Director of Development (Fundraising)

Fundraising

 

90%

Non-Profit Organization CEO

Non-Profit

Non-Profit Organization President

88%

Elementary School Principal

Education

High School or Middle School Principal

86%

Family Physician

Healthcare

Pediatrician, OB/GYN, Emergency Room Physician, General Physician

81%

Non-Profit Program Administrator

Non-Profit

Non-Profit Program Manager, Non-Profit Program Coordinator

80%

Music Ministry Director

Religion

 

80%

Church Youth Director

Religion

 

78%

Elementary School Teacher

Education

High School or Middle School Teacher

78%

Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist

Healthcare

 

77%

Special Education Teacher

Education

Elementary School, Middle School or High School Special Education Teacher

76%

Certified Addiction Drug and Alcohol Counselor

Counseling

 

75%

Marriage / Family Therapist

Counseling

Clinical Therapist

75%

Medical / Clinical Laboratory Supervisor

Research

 

75%

Intelligence Analyst

Government

 

74%

Grant Writer

Fundraising

Grant Coordinator, Grants Specialist

72%

Clinical Research Coordinator

Research

 

71%

Medical Research Assistant

Research

 

71%

Non-Profit Development Coordinator

Non-Profit

Non-Profit Program Coordinator

70%

Scientific Researcher

Research

Research Biologist, Research Chemist

70%

College Professor

Education

Associate, Assistant, Full-Tenured Professor

70%

Anesthesiologist

Healthcare

 

67%

Detective or Criminal Investigator

Public Service

Police Detective

67%

Personal Care Attendant

Healthcare

 

67%

Speech-Language Pathologist

Healthcare

 

67%

Volunteer Coordinator

Public Service

 

67%

Fire Fighter

Public Service

 

67%

Occupational Therapist

Healthcare

 

65%

Physician Assistant

Healthcare

 

64%

Physical Therapist

Healthcare

 

63%

Social Worker

Public Service

Child, Family, or School Social Worker

62%

Police or Sheriff's Patrol Officer

Public Service

 

62%

Registered Nurse

Healthcare

Obstetrics, Oncology, School, Pediatric, Psychiatric, Emergency Room, Internal Medicine

61%

Nursing Home Director

Healthcare

 

57%

Veterinarian

Animal Healthcare

 

55%

 

Predictably, numerous jobs from the healthcare and education industries make the list. These workers make the world a better place by teaching our children (elementary school teacher, special education teacher, college professor), providing for our sick (family physician, physician assistant, registered nurse), caring for our elderly (personal care attendant, nursing home director), and helping our disabled/handicapped (occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech-language pathologist).

Another unsurprising inclusion is jobs involved with religion. People in these jobs not only provide knowledge and guidance in religion and faith, but often work with communities to improve the lives of the sick, homeless, and downtrodden. These jobs include chaplain, music ministry director, and church youth director.

There are several jobs involved in public service who make the list as well: fire fighter, police officer, detective, volunteer coordinator and social worker. These are people responsible for ensuring and protecting our safety, as well as helping those who are less fortunate.

Research jobs make the world a better place through medical and scientific improvements. Research jobs on the list include medical / clinical laboratory supervisors, clinical research coordinators, medical research assistants, and scientific researchers. People in these jobs often play a role in curing diseases, finding new energy resources, improving technology, and working towards an overall higher quality of life. Although each individual contributor is unlikely to make a scientific breakthrough, their research contributes to the overall success of a project.

Highest Paid Meaningful Jobs

Many of the jobs that make our world a better place are not considered to be "high-paying" jobs. Specifically, the educaton, public service, and non-profit industries are known for smaller salaries. In fact, the median pay across all the jobs on the list is $46,000, well below the cut-off for being a "Best Job in America."

However, some of the jobs make the world a better place and the worker's wallet fatter at the same time. Below is a table with the 10 Highest Paid Meaningful Jobs and their national median pay.

 

As you can see, pay for this set of jobs quickly drops off: the national median pay for an anesthesiologist is ~3.5x higher than the national median pay for a physical therapist. In addition, half of these jobs are in the healthcare industry, an industry that typically pays well.

In fact, if we look at the full list of meaningful jobs (before grouping similar jobs) and choose the 10 with the highest pay, they are all in the healthcare industry. All of these jobs pay six figure salaries and are given in the table below.

Job Title

National Median Pay

Anesthesiologist

$242,900

Emergency Room Physician

$207,400

Obstetrician / Gynecologist

$184,700

Hospitalist

$175,300

Psychiatrist

$157,500

Family Physician

$142,900

Pediatrician

$131,600

Nurse Anesthetist

$126,700

Pharmacy Director

$125,500

General Practice Physician

$125,400

 

Therefore if you are looking for a job that will make the world a better place and offer you a high salary, healthcare is the way to go. However, all of the top meaningful jobs are important for improving our way of life and the workers in these jobs deserve our appreciation during this time of thanks.

Do you feel your work makes the world a better place, but are curious about your pay? When you want powerful salary data and comparisons customized for your exact position or job offer, be sure to build a complete profile by taking PayScale's full salary survey.

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