The Most and Least Meaningful Jobs

Does your job make the world a better place? Can you find a job that pays well and feels meaningful? What does the term “job meaning” even mean? Explore the tool below to find out how workers from over 500 jobs rate their job meaning and how those figures compare to salary.

This interactive chart shows how 500 jobs in 24 job categories compare on median national salary and job meaning. PayScale rates job meaning by the percentage of respondents who say that their job makes the world a better place.

As the chart illustrates, there are relatively few jobs with both very high pay and very high job meaning, and most of these are in the medical field (highly-paid practitioners like doctors, surgeons, etc.) Surgeons rank highest on median salary ($304,000) and have the second-highest job meaning (96 percent, tied with Post Secondary English Language and Literature Teachers and Directors of Religious Activites and Education). Clergy members (all denominations) have the highest overall job meaning – 98 percent say that their work makes the world a better place.

When we look at broader job categories instead of individual job titles, it’s Military jobs that have the highest overall job meaning – 88 percent of Military Specific Occupation workers report high job meaning. Computer and Mathematical workers have the highest median salaries ($72,900) but only 44 percent think their jobs are meaningful.

Community and Social Service Workers, as well as Education, Training and Library workers, also rate their jobs as extremely meaningful despite lower pay. (It should also be noted that these fields are dominated by women. Women are more likely to work in low-paying but high-meaning jobs, which contribute to overall differences in pay between genders.)

The two least meaningful job categories are Food Preparation and Service and Sales (each group reports 39 percent of workers think their job is meaningful). But far and away, the job with the lowest meaning is Parking Lot Attendant. Only five percent of Parking Lot Attendants think their job makes the world a better place. (However, Fast Food Worker Cooks are most likely to say that their job makes the world a worse place. Find out which other workers think their jobs make the world a worse place here.)

Advertisement