A typical career lasts 80,000 hours. That’s the equivalent of watching the uncut Lord of The Rings trilogy at least twice… it’s a lot of time to spend doing something that you don’t really enjoy. More than that, it’s a lot of hours that you could spend doing something that you find really meaningful and that will actually improve not only your life, but the life of those around you!
What makes a job satisfying?
There are a few factors to consider when thinking about what you do for a living. A creative job with low pay might be great fun, but if you can’t pay your bills then you won’t find it satisfying for long because the fact that you are struggling for money will cause you stress.
In the same way, a job with a great salary that isn’t engaging will fill you with dread every time you go into the office. It’s important to find a job that is not only adequately financially compensated, but that you find fulfilling too. Everyone is different, but there are a few common factors that are true for most people when searching for a satisfying career.
- Money is important, but only up until a point. You need to ensure that you are paid enough to cover your expenses and that you can save a little and treat yourself occasionally. But having endless pots of money doesn’t actually bring happiness.
- Stress is best avoided if it’s long term and relentless as you will find that you burn out and your mental health suffers. However, concentrated sprints of stressful work occasionally can actually make you feel more productive.
- Caring for others is an important factor in making a job fulfilling. Healthcare careers are an obvious way to satisfy this need, but they’re not the only one. If you are teaching or mentoring others in the workplace, then this is a way of demonstrating caring too.
- Giving something back is a wooly idea that a lot of people quote but then find difficult to quantify! According to 80,000 hours, the best way to give something back is to choose a career that is directly addressing a problem in the world that you really care about. For example, if you really care about animals you might choose to work in rainforest conservation.
- Positive working relationships are vital. You don’t need to be best friends with your colleagues, but it is important that you can work well together, collaborate, and lean on each other for support when needed.
- Opportunities for growth help you to feel fulfilled because we are designed to want to keep learning and improving. Identifying how you want to grow, whether that’s through promotion or through acquiring new skills, is essential to forging a satisfying career.
- Enjoying the day to day is key. Ideally, your days should be made up of varied tasks which you have some agency over in order to help you feel satisfied.
- A job that is aligned with your skills is important because you will be better at it than a job that requires skills that you don’t possess and have no interest in learning. Be sure to choose a career where you can utilize your strengths. There will always be areas that don’t come as naturally to you, but it’s important that you offset these with your natural abilities, otherwise you will feel stuck.
With all this in mind, here are a few of the career options that people have listed as being satisfying to get you started.
Nursing allows you to work directly with people and improve their quality life. It pays well, with the median salary being $73,000 per year, and it also offers great opportunity for specialization and growth.
Nurses can work in large hospitals or small clinics, and it is a career path that is growing. According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) the field is likely to grow 12% by 2028, which is a much larger increase than other area career areas.
It’s easier than ever to retrain as a nurse, with respected institutions offering online accelerated BSN programs.
Physical Therapists provide direct care to their patients, helping them to recover from surgery or injury or working to improve physical capability. A physical therapist can choose which group of people they will specialize with — for example children, athletes or the elderly — and they can work out of either a hospital, health center, or their own office. The average salary for a physical therapist is $88,080.
Working as a conservation scientist could be a fulfilling career choice if you are someone who is concerned about conservation and looking after the earth. The bulk of a conservation scientist’s job is looking after the natural resources in a certain area, and liaising with landowners, farmers, and government agencies to ensure that the resources are being cared for. On average, conservation scientists will be paid $60,970. It is a competitive field and it isn’t growing very quickly, but if it’s something you’re passionate about it could be worth the hard work required to break into the sector.
A lot of children say that they would love to be a firefighter when they grow up, and it’s easy to see why! As a firefighter you are directly working to save people’s lives, as well as educating them in fire safety so that they can keep themselves safe in the future. Many firefighters also undergo EMT training, so you will know what to do in an emergency medical situation. On average, firefighters earn $51,930 per year. In order to become a firefighter you must be over 18 years old, hold a driving license, and pass a physical fitness test. Recruitment and training usually takes place at local fire stations.
Working with young people, providing a positive role model in their lives, and helping them to learn and grow must be one of the most satisfying and yet challenging careers out there. It’s also a great opportunity to pass on your enthusiasm about the subjects you love: imagine getting paid to talk about books all day?
Average salaries range from $55,000 to $70,000 depending on whether you choose to work in an elementary school or a high school. You can also choose to specialize in special education, working with children who have learning, emotional and mental disabilities. This is an area which has reported extremely high levels of satisfaction.