The Happiest Careers in America

Forbes

A new study reveals employees value coworkers and personal control over compensation.

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If you think administrative assistants hate their jobs, think again. A recent survey of the top 10 happiest professions in America, from job site CareerBliss.com, shows that they actually value their work, their colleagues — even their boss — more than dozens of other professions.

To evaluate the data, CareerBliss conducted 200,000 independent employee reviews from 70,000 jobs all over the country to collect 1,600,000 data points on nine factors of workplace happiness. These included the employee's relationship with their boss and co-workers, their work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks and job control over the work that they do on a daily basis.

Each factor was followed by a ranking of how important that element was in the employee's overall happiness. These numbers were combined to find an average rating of overall employee happiness for each job type.

What the results make clear is that employee happiness doesn't come from high paychecks alone. Instead, the three components of a job that employees overwhelmingly responded were the most important factors in keeping them happy were:

• The specific tasks a job entails on a day-to-day basis

• How much control the employee has over his or her daily tasks

• Relationships with co-workers and customers, including supervisors and colleagues

In fact, according to Heidi Golledge, CEO of CareerBliss, while "Salary is always an important component of every job ... the research shows that money is not enough to keep good employees happy. From the employer's perspective, realizing salary is not one of the key drivers of workplace happiness can help employers focus on the areas which will drive job satisfaction to create a happier environment for all."

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Biotechnology ranked the No. 1 happiest job in America, according to CareerBliss. "In biotech, the people that they work with, and more specifically the person that they work for, tends to rank higher in terms of importance, and employees are overwhelmingly happy with those conditions," says Golledge. Biotechnology employees were also among the most happy with their daily tasks and the level of control they feel they have over that work. She adds that the field of biotechnology is currently a growth industry, which makes growth opportunities in the field another key ingredient to its workers overall happiness.

Matt Miller, CTO of Career Bliss says he was surprised at the No. 2 career on the list, customer service. But a look into the employee responses sheds some light on what might otherwise be considered a thankless job. Miller points to customer service representatives' appreciation for the amount of control they have over their daily tasks and the ability to talk to people every day. "They also tend to value their coworkers more than most industries," he says.

In contrast with biotech, where employee-boss relationships were most highly valued, for education employees, who land at No. 3 on the list, the importance of the supervisor fell to the bottom. Teachers valued (in order of importance): the work that they do, the way that they work and the people they work with. Translation: educating children, control over their daily tasks and their fellow teachers. Other career paths included in the top 10 ranking are administrative, purchasing, accounting, finance, nonprofit, healthcare and law.

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The bottom-rung placement of legal professionals at No. 10 is striking. While lawyers earn some of this highest wages, its placement well below much lower-paying fields indicates that money can't buy love -- even for your job.

One interesting note is how employees on different career paths emphasize different elements of their job in contributing to their overall happiness -- or unhappiness. Still, the overwhelming results of this new data reveals that the key driver for work happiness in all employees does not come in the form of a paycheck, but in a person's sense of accomplishment, their relationship with their peers and the feeling of personal control over day-to-day tasks.

The Happiest Careers in America

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No. 1: Biotechnology

Score: 3.275

These workers make a career out of tweaking mother nature: Biotechnology fuses engineering and technology with the life sciences. Biotech workers value their coworkers over all other factors.



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No. 2: Customer Service

Score: 3.108

These company representatives work directly with customers. CareerBliss CTO Matt Miller points out that they are often personality types who enjoy helping people, conflict management and problem solving. Customer service employees are the happiest of all employees surveyed in terms of the amount of control they feel they have over their work.

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No. 3: Education

Score: 3.084

Educators are responsible for helping kids grow into smart, productive adults. Of all of the employees surveyed, they value their daily tasks -- working with children -- more than anyone.



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No. 4: Admin-Clerical

Score: 3.066

Think your administrative assistant hates her job? Just the opposite. Support staff and clerical workers feel good about their daily tasks, and according to the BLS, employment growth and high replacement needs in this large occupation result in a steady stream of job openings.

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No. 5: Purchasing-Procurement

Score: 3.065

Often an overlooked career path, these professionals are responsible for the materials and goods for corporations, and they rely on superior negotiating skills to secure the best deals possible. CareerBliss CEO Heidi Golledge jokes that "having the power to spend other people's money" must feel good.

What do you make of the list? What do you value most in your career? It is your colleagues? Growth opportunity? Or is it really all about the money?

Click here to see all of America's Happiest Jobs

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