CareerBliss compiled a list of the 10 happiest jobs based on analysis from more than 65,000 employee-generated reviews in 2012. Employees all over the country were asked to evaluate ten factors that affect workplace happiness. Those include one’s relationship with the boss and co-workers, work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks, and control over the work one does on a daily basis.
They evaluated each factor on a five-point scale and also indicated how important it was to their overall happiness. The numbers were combined to find an average rating of overall employee happiness for each respondent, and then sorted by job title to find which occupations had the happiest workers. A minimum of 50 employee reviews was required to be considered for CareerBliss’ 10 Happiest Jobs in America, and executive level jobs, like chief executive, were excluded from the study.
“It is vital to understand how employees in these positions feel about their work environment,” says Heidi Golledge, chief executive of CareerBliss. “Whether you are someone looking to transition into one of these careers, or are currently in one of these jobs, this can help arm you with the information needed to truly understand the rewards and challenges. In addition, any employer managing people in these types of positions can gauge how their employees may feel, and can adjust elements to help create happier work environments.”
The happiest employees of all aren’t kindergarten teachers or veterinarians. They’re real estate agents. Professionals with this job title are typically responsible for renting, buying, or selling property for clients. According to the BLS, they study property listings, interview prospective clients, accompany clients to property site, discuss conditions of sale, and draw up real estate contracts. They make about $51,170 per year, on average—but top earning real estate agents rake in over $92,000.
With an index score of 4.26, real estate agents said they are more than satisfied with the control they have over the work they do on a daily basis. They’re also fairly content with their bosses.
“Real estate agents have definitely weathered quite a financial storm over the past few years but right now rates are between 2% and 3% and inventory is low, making it a real estate agents dream as new homes hit the market and are getting multiple offers in the first week,” Golledge says. “Right now, it is a seller’s market so the real estate agent’s cost of advertising and marketing is very low and commissions are high. Happy times.”
The second most blissful job is senior quality assurance engineer, which earned an index score of 4.23. Professionals with this job title are typically involved in the entire software development process to ensure the quality of the final product. This can include processes such as requirements gathering and documentation, source code control, code review, change management, configuration management, release management, and the actual testing of the software, explains Matt Miller, chief technology officer at CareerBliss.
These professionals “typically make between $85,000 and $100,000 a year in salary and are the gatekeepers for releasing high quality software products,” Miller adds. Organizations generally will not allow software to be released until it has been fully tested and approved by their software quality assurance group, he adds.
Golledge says the job requires long hours and intense demands–however, senior quality assurance engineers feel rewarded at work, “as they are typically the last stop before software goes live and correctly feel that they are an integral part of the job being done at the company.”
In Pictures: The Happiest And Unhappiest Jobs In America
Senior sales representative is the third happiest job in America, according to CareerBliss data. The profession scored a 4.19. Employees in this job are most content with the amount of control they have over the work they do, and their daily tasks.
“Being able to control what you do and how much money you make are key happiness factors,” Golledge explains. “Sales jobs can often be flexible and provide a rewarding environment, where pay structure is based off of results. For many in this field who receive bonuses and/or commission compensation for positive results can actually boost overall happiness as seen in our most recent data. Even more important is the work that they are doing. The economy is improving make sales success achievable and closing a deal is always a positive motivator for extroverts who choose sales careers.”
Construction superintendant and senior application developer round out the top five happiest jobs in America, with index scores of 4.10 and 4.08, respectively.
In Pictures: The Happiest And Unhappiest Jobs In America
Using the same methodology, CareerBliss also compiled a gloomier list: The Unhappiest Jobs in America.
If you happen to be a customer service associate, marketing coordinator or legal assistant and you’re constantly down in the dumps—you’re not alone.
These are three of the nation’s unhappiest professions, according to CareerBliss.
But associate attorney is the unhappiest of all, with an index score of 2.89 out of 5.
“Associate attorneys stated they felt most unhappy with their company culture,” Golledge says. “In many cases, law firms are conducted in a structured environment that is heavily centered on billable hours. It may take several years for an associate attorney to rise to the rank of partner. People in this position rated the way they work and the rewards they receive lower than any other industry.”
The second and third unhappiest jobs are customer service associate and clerk. They earned scores of 3.16 and 3.18, respectively. People in both of these jobs cite growth opportunities and workplace culture as the two things they are most dissatisfied with.
“The lack of growth opportunities was a huge factor for customer service associates,” Golledge says. “For many people in this position, not having a clear path to their next position within their current company impacted their overall happiness.”
Surprises on this year’s list: Teachers and nurses.
“[We have] found through our research that teachers appear to be quite happy with their work and their co-workers. However, the rewards for their work, lack of support, and lack of opportunities to be promoted counteract many of the good parts of the job,” she says. “Nurses, on the other hand, have more issues with the culture of their workplaces, the people they work with, and the person they work for. The factors driving the unhappiness tell different stories for these two jobs.”
Click here to see the 10 happiest and 10 unhappiest jobs.