Employment Trends

11 High-Paying Jobs with High Satisfaction

high-paying-jobs-with-high-satisfaction
Written by Kate Lopaze

You hear a lot about the “American dream,” and although it ultimately means something different to everyone, there tend to be some common themes: making money doing something you find satisfying/fulfilling/enjoyable. No career is going to be all sunshine and flowers all the time—no matter what you do, or how much you love your job, there will be lousy days, and days where you just don’t want to go to work. But on the whole, if you know you’re doing something satisfying and are making a solid amount of money doing it, you’re doing pretty well.

So what are these fields that have high satisfaction coupled with high paychecks? The folks at PayScale have done a survey to help illuminate this magic career intersection. Let’s look at 11 of their top high satisfaction, high pay jobs.

Radiation Therapist

Healthcare careers rate pretty highly on this list, especially the more skilled positions. In medicine or healthcare, you have pretty clear outcomes—if you’ve helped treat someone or helped them to recover from an illness or injury, that’s a pretty clear reward. Radiation therapists treat cancer and other diseases with the use of radiation treatments and equipment.

Education needed: Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree, plus licensing or certification in most states

Median salary: $80,220

Satisfaction rate: 86%

Outlook: The field is likely to grow by at least 14% by 2024 (significantly faster than average), per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Administrator (Elementary, Middle, and High School)

If, like Whitney Houston, you believe that children are our future, becoming a school administrator is a job that pays well and gives a high personal sense of accomplishment and difference-making. School administrators (often principals or other executive roles) are responsible for managing all school operations—daily activities, faculty and staff, curricula, safety, budgets, etc. It’s a role that carries a lot of responsibility, and often requires a tough-but-fair persona to make sure that everything is running smoothly, safely, and productively for students.

Education needed: Master’s degree

Median salary: $90,410

Satisfaction rate: 88%

Outlook: The field is likely to grow by at least 6% by 2024 (about average), per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists take an active role in helping patients recover from illness or injury, as well as improve movement and manage pain/symptoms. These professionals focus on helping people regain range of motion, and the kinds of skills they need to cope with everyday activities. Physical therapists don’t spend their days behind a desk—they’re usually found working directly with patients. Physical therapists work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and public health facilities.

Education needed: Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT), plus licensing (which is currently required in all states)

Median salary: $84,020

Satisfaction rate: 79%

Outlook: The field is likely to grow by at least 34% by 2024 (way faster than average), per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pediatrician

Professionals who work with kids tend to report high job satisfaction in general, especially if they are actively helping children. Not all of these rewarding careers are high-paying, though—for example, child social workers report very high satisfaction with their jobs, but earn a median income of $33,900. For a career path that is highly rated and high-paying, consider going into pediatric medicine. Pediatricians are physicians that exclusively treat children, ranging from infants to adolescents. They work in hospitals, clinics, or other healthcare facilities.

Education needed: Medical Doctorate

Median salary: $149,000

Satisfaction rate: 89%

Outlook: The field is likely to grow by at least 14% by 2024 (much faster than average), per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Audiologist

If you’ve ever seen those viral videos where little kids with hearing disabilities hear something (a parent’s voice, music, animal sounds) for the first time, you may not have noticed the medical professional close by. (Or, if you’re like me, you may not have noticed anything, because you were sniffling too hard while pretending not to be crying at your desk.) The person you don’t always see—but is almost always present—in those moments is an audiologist, whose work with the patient helped enable him or her to hear better. Audiologists work in hospitals, clinics, or healthcare facilities to diagnose, manage, and treat a patient’s hearing, balance, or ear problems.

Education needed: Doctorate or professional degree, plus licensing (which is currently required in all states)

Median salary: $74,890

Satisfaction rate: 70%

Outlook: The field is likely to grow by at least 29% by 2024 (much faster than average), per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Occupational Therapist Assistants

Occupational therapists work as part of a care team (and usually under the direction of an occupational therapist) to help patients develop or recover the skills they need to live and work every day. Occupational therapist assistants are often the ones working most directly with patients, helping them move, walk, and learn how to perform work or personal care tasks after an injury or in coping with a chronic illness.

Education needed: Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree, plus licensing or certification in most states

Median salary: $54,520

Satisfaction rate: 81%

Outlook: The field is likely to grow by at least 40% by 2024 (much faster than average), per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Optometrist

Much like the audiologists above, optometrists find great fulfillment in helping patients with another sense: sight, this time. Optometrists are Allied Health professionals who examine eyes, evaluate eye health, diagnose problems, prescribe glasses and contact lenses, and help treat eye diseases and injuries.

Education needed: Doctorate or professional degree, plus licensing (which is currently required in all states)

Median salary: $103,900

Satisfaction rate: 81%

Outlook: The field is likely to grow by at least 27% by 2024 (much faster than average), per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists often get the “bad cop” tasks in the dentist’s office, since they’re the ones who can tell you’re totally lying when you say you floss every single day, rain or shine. Yet despite that, they feel pretty happy about their career day-to-day satisfaction (79%), likely because they provide front-line dental care, and work with patients on follow up care to keep those choppers white and pearly. Dental hygienists clean teeth, evaluate signs of oral disease (like gingivitis), assist dentists during procedures, and educate patients on preventative and follow-up care.

Education needed: Associate’s degree, plus licensing (which is currently required in all states)

Median salary: $72,330

Satisfaction rate: 79%

Outlook: The field is likely to grow by at least 19% by 2024 (faster than average), per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Arbitrator/Mediator

If you have strong negotiation skills and like the satisfaction of sealing a deal that works for all parties, then becoming an arbitrator/mediator might be right for you. These professionals basically broker agreements and resolve conflicts between parties by providing a neutral facilitator and keeping an open dialogue between the parties. Not everyone gets what they want, but the arbitrator him- or herself gets a career that offers satisfying resolutions to tricky problems.

Education needed: Bachelor’s degree, with supplemental studies in conflict resolution

Median salary: $58,020

Satisfaction rate: 90%

Outlook: The field is likely to grow by at least 9% by 2024 (faster than average), per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Public Relations Manager

Public relations managers thrive on public buzz, and making sure that their company, brand, or client is getting the right recognition with the target audience. Public relations professionals come up with campaigns, manage press relations, set messaging and branding, and work to maintain their brand’s public image. As the face or voice for a company or brand, it can be a demanding role, but receives high marks for overall job satisfaction.

Education needed: Associate’s degree, plus licensing (which is currently required in all states)

Median salary: $60,660

Satisfaction rate: 73%

Outlook: The field is likely to grow by at least 7% by 2024 (about average), per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Medical and Health Services Manager

Medical and health services managers, also known as healthcare managers, are part of the wave of growing healthcare jobs in general, and insurance-related jobs especially, as that technology and legal/insurance implications grow and change. These managers plan, direct, and coordinate medical and health services in physicians’ offices, hospitals, agencies, or other healthcare settings.

Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

Median salary: $94,500

Satisfaction rate: 81%

Outlook: The field is likely to grow by at least 17% by 2024 (must faster than average), per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

While these jobs may not have the million-dollar signing bonuses of your childhood baseball-playing dreams, or the glamour of your secret Oscar-winning aspirations, they’re career paths that are achievable (and realistic) if you’re able to put in the time, energy, and education to chase that high-paying, high-satisfaction job.

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