12 Happiest Jobs in America in 2023
Exploring careers can be both exciting and daunting. While many variables impact our career path, our choices often come back to some deceptively simple questions: Which job would make me happy? What are the happiest jobs in general? What are the least stressful jobs? For those interested in specific career tracks, the question may be, “What are the happiest jobs in the medical field”?
The answer to these questions varies from person to person and may also evolve over time. Job satisfaction stems from several factors:
- How meaningful one’s work is
- Growth opportunities
- Alignment with one’s interests
- Work environment
- Positive relationships with coworkers and supervisors
These variables mean that job satisfaction is highly individualized. For this reason, it would be difficult to objectively list the happiest jobs. However, it is possible to identify professions that workers generally find fulfilling. In this post, we’ve done just that!
Below is a list of the happiest jobs from various industries based on data from U.S. News & World Report and Glassdoor. All salary and growth data originates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This list is not ranked, meaning jobs that are listed first aren’t necessarily “happier” than those beneath them. Instead, we have grouped our choices categorically so that multiple fields are represented. Read on for our selections!
Happiest Jobs in STEM
Jobs within STEM are some of the most highly rated positions for job satisfaction. STEM occupations generally pay well and are in high demand. They also tend to offer excellent benefits that support work-life balance. Outlined below are some of the happiest jobs in STEM.
1) Software Developer
Software developers create the tools we rely on most, from navigational apps to online banking software. Developers leverage their creativity, technical prowess, and problem-solving abilities to build new programs and improve existing platforms. Software developers are also one of the most in-demand jobs, as most industries require their talents. While developer jobs pay well, these positions are also satisfying due to their flexibility. Many developers work remotely, meaning they can exert greater agency over where they live and work.
- Average salary: $132,930
- Projected growth: 26% through 2031
- Required education: Software development positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, ideally in computer science or a related field. However, it’s equally important that prospective developers curate coding skills and demonstrate that knowledge through a portfolio.
2) Information Security Analyst
The ubiquity of technology in our lives means that a lot of sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and addresses, is stored online. Keeping this information secure is the job of an information security analyst. Information security analysts ensure individuals’ and businesses’ privacy by developing security protocols, installing firewalls, and investigating data breaches. Like many STEM-oriented professions, information security analysts enjoy high salaries and flexibility through remote work.
- Average salary: $119,860
- Projected growth: 35%
- Required education: Information security analysts require at least a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology or a related field.
3) Data Scientist
What do businesses, government entities, and educational institutions all have in common? They rely on data to make informed decisions. However, gleaning insight from data requires the skills of a data scientist who collects, organizes, and analyzes data. Beyond their knowledge of statistics, data scientists must also be strong communicators so that they can share insights with stakeholders.
- Average salary: $115,240
- Projected growth: 36%
- Required education: Prospective data scientists need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, math, or a related field.
Happiest Jobs in the Medical Field
The healthcare industry has many rewarding, but stressful, professions. However, some occupations allow individuals to engage in meaningful work without the stress that accompanies some healthcare settings. Outlined below are some of the happiest jobs in the medical field:
4) Nurse Practitioner
Nurse practitioners occupy a middle ground between registered nurses and doctors. Like RNs, nurse practitioners record medical histories and administer medications. However, they are also able to take on some of the responsibilities that have historically resided with doctors. These tasks include performing exams, prescribing medications, and ordering labs. Moreover, nurse practitioners can specialize, focusing on certain populations such as pediatrics and women’s healthcare. While healthcare can be stressful, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which caused burnout among healthcare workers, there is an increased emphasis on mental health and wellness in the industry. These improvements, alongside the high salary and fulfilling nature of healthcare, make being a nurse practitioner one of the happiest jobs in the medical field.
- Average salary: $124,680
- Projected growth: 40%
- Required education: Nurse practitioners must have both a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree, as well as a graduate degree in the same discipline. In addition to these educational requirements, nurse practitioners must be certified RNs and pass the NP board certification exam.
5) Occupational Therapy Assistant
Working under occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants support individuals in developing, improving, or regaining skills needed to live full lives. OTAs work with a variety of populations, including children with developmental disabilities and the elderly. This variability, as well as the positive impact OTAs have on patients, arguably makes it one of the happiest and least stressful jobs in healthcare.
- Average salary: $66,280
- Projected growth: 25%
- Required education: OTAs must have a minimum of an associate’s degree in an Occupational Therapy Assistant program. OTAs must also obtain a state license to practice in their area.
Happiest Jobs in the Medical Field (Continued)
6) Speech-Language Pathologist
Another healthcare profession that balances meaningful work with manageable stress levels is speech-language pathology. Speech-language pathologists treat patients who experience difficulties with speech, language, or swallowing. They assist many different populations, including stroke victims and children with developmental delays. Speech-language pathologists can also work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and schools. Regardless of where they work, speech-language pathologists engage in meaningful work by helping patients overcome barriers to improve their quality of life.
Average salary: $89,460
Projected growth: 21%
Required education: To become a speech-language pathologist, you’ll need to earn a master’s degree in the discipline before becoming licensed.
Happiest Jobs in Business and Finance
Business and finance fields are highly diverse, meaning there is a great deal of variability in occupations and responsibilities. This diversity makes it easier for workers to find a fulfilling position that aligns with their interests and goals. Included below are just a few of the most satisfying jobs in business:
7) Financial Advisor
If you are interested in finance but also want to help others, becoming a financial advisor may be your calling. Financial advisors support clients in achieving their goals by developing budgets and sustainable retirement plans. They can also help clients through financial hardships, making it a profession that is engaging and rewarding.
- Average salary: $116,770
- Projected growth: 15%
- Required education: A bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or business is necessary to become a financial advisor. Prospective advisors can further distinguish themselves by passing the Certified Financial Planner Certification exam.
8) Market Research Analyst
Market research analysts examine market conditions and analyze data to help companies make informed decisions. Similar to a data scientist, market research analysts examine data and communicate with stakeholders to share their insights. For this reason, it’s a particularly engaging occupation for those interested in data analytics, marketing, and sales.
- Average salary: $78,880
- Projected growth: 19%
- Required education: Those interested in market research will need a bachelor’s degree in marketing or a business-related field. Some market research analysts also have degrees in psychology or other social sciences to provide insight into consumer behaviors.
9) Real Estate Agent
Real estate agents facilitate real estate transactions for buyers and sellers in both residential and commercial markets. They also experience a high degree of flexibility, with 88% enjoying work-from-home benefits. For this reason, real estate is fulfilling for those who are adaptable, interested in finance, and enjoy networking.
Average salary: $71,200
Projected growth: 5%, which is considered an average level of growth
Required education: While a college degree is not required, having an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, or finance helps agents stay competitive. Regardless of their educational background, real estate agents must be licensed in their state.
Happiest Jobs in Social Services
“Social services” is a broad term that we’re using to refer to jobs that enhance communities and serve the collective good. Some jobs within this field can sometimes feel thankless. However, other positions within this category enjoy sustainable compensation while being personally fulfilling.
10) Non-Profit Lawyer
Put simply, lawyers represent and counsel individuals and organizations through legal matters. Aside from being a high-paying profession, law is also a diverse career path. Lawyers may be prosecutors or public defenders, representing clients who cannot afford lawyers. They can also specialize in a particular area, such as environmental or family law. This diversity ensures that prospective non-profit lawyers can find a niche that is engaging and satisfying.
- Average salary: $163,770
- Projected growth: 10%
- Required education: Being a lawyer is one of the most rigorous career paths in terms of educational requirements. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, prospective lawyers must gain admission to a law school and earn their JD. From there, they must pass the Bar Exam before they can begin practicing.
The COVID-19 pandemic shined a light on the importance of mental healthcare. As a result, therapists and counselors are in increasingly high demand. Therapy is a field that generally pays well and, more importantly, is meaningful for both practitioners and patients. Therapists make a difference in clients’ lives, helping them address conditions like depression and anxiety, or work through challenging events.
- Average salary: $88,800
- Projected growth: 14%
- Required education: In addition to a bachelor’s degree, therapists earn a master’s in counseling, psychology, or the specialty they wish to pursue. Prospective therapists will typically conduct clinical hours during their graduate program before completing the licensure process.
12) High School Teacher
Almost every person can recall a teacher who positively impacted them—maybe even changed their lives! The ability to make a difference is what makes teaching a fulfilling occupation. While teaching is challenging (it likely wouldn’t make the list of least stressful jobs), it is a profession where people can pursue topics they love while making an impact in the lives of students. Teachers’ salaries are dependent on location, since some states provide better working conditions than others. Therefore, it is worth accounting for location when deciding if (and where) to teach.
- Average salary: $65,580
- Projected growth: 5%
- Required education: Generally, all public school teachers must earn a bachelor’s degree before becoming licensed. Some states also incentivize teachers to earn their master’s degree.
Final Thoughts: What are the happiest jobs in America?
While there are factors that can make one profession generally happier than another, no ranking can account for individual preferences. The happiest job is the one that aligns with your interests and goals. For some, the most satisfying job is one that is fast-paced. For others, the happiest jobs and the least stressful jobs might be one and the same. Essentially, there is no accounting for taste, so take time to reflect on what you want while researching careers.
Although the majority of jobs on this list require a four-year degree, we want to emphasize that many satisfying careers do not require this same level of education. If you are interested in pursuing one of the many well-paid, in-demand careers in the trades, consider reading up on the best jobs for trade school graduates.
If you would like to research other career paths, consider checking out the following posts:
Emily earned a BA in English and Communication Studies from UNC Chapel Hill and an MA in English from Wake Forest University. While at UNC and Wake Forest, she served as a tutor and graduate assistant in each school’s writing center, where she worked with undergraduate and graduate students from all academic backgrounds. She also worked as an editorial intern for the Wake Forest University Press as well as a visiting lecturer in the Department of English at WFU, and currently works as a writing center director in western North Carolina.
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