Every job applicant is trying to find the sweet spot between two numbers: the salary they would need to take on a job they really didn’t like, and the lowest salary they could live on in order to take a job they truly loved. In a perfect world, one’s passion for a job would be matched by salary. But unfortunately, that’s not always how the job market works—ask anyone who has ever settled for a small paycheck in order to follow their dream.
Anthropologist David Graeber made headlines with a book on the “useless jobs that no one wants to talk about” (though the actual title was slightly more profane). In countries around the world, 30–40% of adults reported wondering why their jobs even existed, even though most are well-compensated for their time. Some blame the rise of technology and automation making it harder to find jobs that are high-paying, productive, and fulfilling (to say nothing of the jobs that are none of the above). Graeber argues in his book and elsewhere that people would be a lot happier if these jobs didn’t exist and if productive jobs (for example, teaching) were better paid.
Stacker considered two data metrics compiled by PayScale to find out which jobs are the most meaningful. In a 2013–2015 survey, PayScale asked more than 2 million workers if their job makes the world a better place, a metric that the company calls “job meaning.” Stacker compared this data to the national median salary to find the 50 most meaningful jobs in the country.
Read on to discover which jobs were rated the most meaningful and to decide if it might be time to consider a career change.
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