Data Packages » Job Meaning » Hi Meaning Low Paying Jobs
High-Meaning,
Low-Paying Jobs
Workers in these jobs are confident that they are making the world a better place, but they aren’t getting rich doing it.

#10: Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

85% Find Job Meaningful
Median Pay: $35,300

Helping patients overcome addiction and behavioral disorders is stressful and low-paying, but the work saves lives, making it one of the most meaningful jobs a person can take.

USMC-16967 by Department of Defense via WikiMedia

USMC-16967 by Department of Defense via WikiMedia

#7 – tie: Middle School Teachers

86% Find Job Meaningful
Median Pay: $42,900

Junior high is a tough time for tweens and teens, but even tougher for the teachers that work with them. Thankfully it’s work that these teachers rate as highly meaningful.

School Daze by Jose Kevo from flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0

School Daze by Jose Kevo from flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0

#7 – tie: Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

86% Find Job Meaningful
Median Pay: $41,200

Social Workers go through plenty of schooling (most have a Master’s degrees) and receive relatively low pay for the work they do, but their high job meaning numbers explain why so many people choose to go into this field.

GroupTherapy by The National Institute on Drug Abuse via WikiMedia

GroupTherapy by The National Institute on Drug Abuse via WikiMedia

#7 – tie: Massage Therapists

86% Find Job Meaningful
Median Pay: $41,500

Massage therapy produces sore muscles for practitioners, but evidently the hands-on care they give to their clients is highly rewarding despite low pay.

Massage by Nick J Webb from flickr under CC BY 2.0

Massage by Nick J Webb from flickr under CC BY 2.0

#6: Mental Health Counselors

87% Find Job Meaningful
Median Pay: $40,300

Mental Health Counselors earn just over $40,000 a year, but 87% say they are confident that their jobs make the world a better place.

Shrinking Jeremy by deltamike from flickr under CC BY 2.0

Shrinking Jeremy by deltamike from flickr under CC BY 2.0

#5: Medical Appliance Technicians

88% Find Job Meaningful
Median Pay: $37,300

Creating the tools that doctors use to save and change lives doesn’t pay as well as those with an MD, but Medical Appliance Technicians do report very high job meaning numbers.

Brace by Army Medicine from flickr under CC BY 2.0

Brace by Army Medicine from flickr under CC BY 2.0

#3 – tie: Kindergarten Teachers

89% Find Job Meaningful
Median Pay: $35,500

Kindergarten teachers work hard for a median salary of $35,500, but they say that getting children ready for a lifetime of learning rewards them with a very high sense of job meaning.

05092012 - Oyster class visit Teacher Appreciation 197 by US Department of Education from flickr under CC BY 2.0

05092012 - Oyster class visit Teacher Appreciation 197 by US Department of Education from flickr under CC BY 2.0

#3 – tie: Preschool/Child Care Administrators

89% Find Job Meaningful
Median Pay: $32,400

Notice a trend? Working with young children seems to make the world a better place. Preschool and Child Care Administrators tie with Kindergarten Teachers for high job meaning despite low pay.

IMG_1775 by cambodia4kidsorg from flicker under CC BY 2.0

IMG_1775 by cambodia4kidsorg from flickr under CC BY 2.0

#2: Firefighters

93% Find Job Meaningful
Median Pay: $43,500

Firefighters save lives, sometimes in heroic ways. It shouldn’t be surprising that they report such high job meaning statistics – putting out fires and saving kitties from dangerous trees does make the world a better place.

043_DeForestFireDept_090531 by agtgreen from flicker under CC BY 2.0

043_DeForestFireDept_090531 by agtgreen from flickr under CC BY 2.0

#1: Directors of Religious Activities and Education

97% Find Job Meaningful
Median Pay: $35,900

Working for spiritual institutions feeds your soul more than your bank account, but the individuals who do this work are certainly happy with their choice. They top this list with 97% of respondents reporting high job meaning.

Religious Leaders, World Economic Forum 2009 Annual Meeting by World Economic Forum from Wikimedia under CC BY-SA 2.0

Religious Leaders, World Economic Forum 2009 Annual Meeting by World Economic Forum from Wikimedia under CC BY-SA 2.0

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