Singers believe they contribute more to society than fashion designers while financial advisers feel the world would be better without them. Those are some of the surprising findings of an employment survey.

Most of us need to work to earn a living but how many of us feel our work is meaningful?

A lack of motivation doubtless makes it more difficult for us to do our job. Struggling out of bed in the morning and watching the hands of the clock tick over throughout the day hardly makes for a satisfying working life.

If we’re not fulfilled at work, that invariably impacts on home life; it can seem the working week lasts an eternity while the week-ends fly by, and those long dreamed-of holidays can feel like they’re over in the blink of an eye.

So, how many of us are actually satisfied with what we do? We may have a job that demands a lot of our attention but that’s not the same as genuine job satisfaction.

According to a study by PayScale, a US-based employment research organisation, surprisingly few of us feel we make a positive change to the world.

Some of those who do may surprise you, for example funeral directors, dentists and opticians are among those who believe they genuinely make a difference, while writers and artists, media and communication professionals and animators are among those who believe their work has little meaning.

PayScale asked workers in more than 454 different occupations to complete a questionnaire about whether they feel their work makes the world a better place.

They were also asked to provide information about their salary, bonuses and additional compensation such as profit sharing, tips and commission.

Topping the list for the most meaningful job were clergy, with a three-way tie for second place shared by English teachers in secondary schools, directors of religious activities/education and surgeons.

Of those, the highest paid were surgeons who typically take home a median salary of £234,785. Some 96% of those found strong meaning in their work.

Of the top 10 most meaningful professions, directors of religious activities/ education were the poorest paid, taking home an annual salary of just £29,039, but the same number – 96% – found strong meaning in their role.

Many of the roles designated as ‘most meaningful’ were in medicine – including chiropractors, radiation therapists and psychiatrists and all of the jobs involved working closely with people in a helpful capacity.

Less meaningful roles varied strongly by type of work and compensation and they were more likely to be independent and corporate jobs, or those that involve dealing with customers.

Low-wage occupations such as counter and rental clerks and shippers also landed on the list, alongside more prestigious and well-compensated jobs like senior web designers, fashion designers, and merchandise planners.

Least satisfied of all workers were car-park attendants who are paid, on average, £15,214. Only only one in 20 believed their job was meaningful.

The study included a breakdown of people who believed their jobs make the world a worse place. Among the highest on that list were online retail warehouse staff, who typically earn £19,153, as well as casino floor supervisors (£39,311) and merchandise planning managers (£72,907).

To see the full results visit https://www.payscale.com/data-packages/most-and-least-meaningful-jobs/full-list

Most Meaningful Jobs


Job Title Median Pay High Meaning High Satisfaction
Clergy £35,990 98% 90%
English Language and Literature Teachers, secondary schools £35,990 96% 74%
Surgeons £234,785 96% 83%
Directors, Religious Activities and Education £29,039 96% 84%
Education Administrators, nursery and primary schools £59,236 95% 88%
Radiation Therapists £54,216 93% 86%
Chiropractors £46,416 92% 70%
Psychiatrists £152,417 92% 85%
Anaesthesiologists £210,843 91% 83%