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The 20 most fulfilling jobs + the psychology behind them

We are often told to follow our dreams and look for the most fulfilling jobs that give us a sense of purpose and stability. But with millions of potential career opportunities, there's a lot to consider – there were more than 10 million job openings in the last quarter of 2021 alone. Understanding what fulfills a job in the first place can help you choose your most fulfilling career.

From things like salary to your professional background and genuine interests, there are many elements that go into making you feel like you have a truly satisfying job. Read on to learn about some of the main pillars of a rewarding job, as well as some of the most fulfilling jobs out there right now. Because there's nothing quite like getting to work every day with a genuine smile on your face.

What makes a fulfilling career?

Given that the average person works about 260 days a year, it's understandable that workers want to enjoy the job they devote most of their lives to. The following aspects not only provide professionals with positive vibes throughout their careers, but also have other clear psychological benefits.


See as if 97% of people feel more engaged at work If they feel like there's a purpose to being there, it's fair to say that people want to do work that matters to them and gets them excited in the morning. Some might find this by teaching young children or working for a non-profit organization that helps the homeless. Nonetheless, knowing that your work is making a significant difference could instill a sense of purpose and motivation.

Advantages outweigh the disadvantages

There's no getting around the fact that work feels like work. Some parts might be frustrating – like longer commutes and limited parking – but as long as the good points outweigh the bad, you can consider this a satisfying job.

A good rule of thumb is never to take on a job that seems to be taking an extra toll on your life. Certain company perks might be attractive at face value, but they don't stand a chance compared to the headache that a difficult position can bring. Nowadays,1 of 3 Employees are willing to quit to prioritize their mental health.

intellectual challenges

Having a job that challenges you intellectually can have incredible psychological benefits. In fact, previous studies have linked positions that are potentially challenging for workers Reducing the risk of various cognitive problems and/or diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia.

In addition, individuals who want to move up the corporate ladder can take on more complex roles in the workplace. Having a job that offers a definite growth plan and what it takes to move forward during onboarding is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for mental stimulation. A good company wants its employees to reach their full potential.

Healthy work-life balance

The ability to forget about your job when you leave the office should be a reality for everyone. With an increase of 21% in employee burnout during the last year, it also seems that it is more necessary than ever. Feeling overworked can lead to job dissatisfaction—and unfortunately, it can50% of workers felt this way in the past year. Finding a job that allows you to prioritize your well-being and the things you love is essential to a fulfilling work life.

Structured career growth

Reports indicate that 34% of people believe they need to find a new employer to get a chance for advancement. For this reason, it is extremely important to discuss your professional goals during the interview. Making sure you know where you're going in a company can help ensure your personal goals align with those of your employer.

positive relationships

51% of respondents have quit within the last year because they didn't feel they belonged — proof that a positive work environment can go a long way towards making jobs fun. Teams that support each other and celebrate each other's accomplishments can maintain a sense of camaraderie and morale that can help make your work feel incredibly rewarding.

See Average US Salaries

The 20 most fulfilling jobs of 2022

Combined with data from Mint's salary tool, we've compiled a list of some of the most fulfilling jobs that allow people to feel good about what they do every day. Also, you can explore the salary tool to find jobs that you don't see here, as there could be more than one career that might interest you while you research.

1. Firefighter

A firefighter stands on the steps of the fire truck and smiles as she looks ahead, suggesting that she considers her job one of the most fulfilling jobs.

Average salary: $62,000
Educational requirements: high school diploma

Firefighters perform a necessary service to the public by responding to fires and other emergencies to save the lives of citizens. Although this profession is dangerous, it can be rewarding as you feel a sense of purpose after working with your crew to stop a potentially damaging situation. The positive relationships you can develop with your crew members can also make this job a rewarding one. Knowing that you are working with a team that has your back can make all the difference in risky situations.

2. Dentist

Average salary: $123,000
Educational requirements:

Bachelor (four years)
Dental school (four years)
Pass the National Board dental exams

Although you may have hated going to the dentist as a kid, finding a job in dentistry could be the rewarding career you are looking for. With the ability to diagnose and fix problems related to teeth and gums, you will be able to find a sense of fulfillment while building lasting relationships with your clientele.

3rd doctor

Average salary: $152,500
educational requirements

Bachelor (four years)
Medical studies (four years)
Duration of stay (three to eight years)

With the ability to see people through some of the best and worst of their lives, being a doctor could be an incredibly rewarding job for those interested in the medical field. From supporting families with sick loved ones to preparing younger couples for the birth of a newborn, physicians are a valuable resource for those seeking medical help and advice. And with the responsibility of finding the right healthcare solutions for your valued patients, you are constantly intellectually stimulated to find the best ways to serve your customers.

4. Surgeon

Average salary: $154,500
educational requirements

Bachelor (four years)
Medical studies (four years)
Residency (three to seven years)
Obtain a state license

Surgeons are charged with saving and transforming lives every day, doing a satisfying job that they know will make a difference to those who need help. For some, the bonds of trusting and at-risk patients could be what is worth all those years of hard work and dedication. Regardless of the reasoning, it must be great when you know that someone's life has changed for the better because of something you did for them.

5. Clergy

A minister, one of the most fulfilling jobs, speaks to a black woman in a church and indicates that he is helping her find meaning in life.

Average salary: $41,000
educational requirements

Bachelor's or Master's degree (four-eight years)

Providing spiritual and moral guidance to members of their congregation, ministers are religious leaders who can help their peers live their lives in accordance with their faith. They conduct services and other religious programs designed to help people with their personal problems. Ministers can find purpose in seeing their community living positively, incorporating the lessons and teachings they are taught in hopes of improving their own relationships and lifestyle.

6. Physiotherapist

Average salary: $71,500
educational requirements

Bachelor (four years)
Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program (two years)
Pass the national physical therapy exam
obtain a work permit

Physical therapists may consider physical therapy a rewarding career because they get to see patients make significant strides in improving their mobility. After physical therapists develop meaningful relationships with clients, they have the pleasure and responsibility of helping injured or disabled people achieve the recovery goals they have set for themselves. As part of this process, you can see not only your health improve, but your overall quality of life as well.

7. teacher

Average salary: $47,500
educational requirements

Bachelor's and/or master's degree (four-eight years)
obtain a license to teach

Teachers have the pleasure of preparing today's youth for their future. Teachers can not only help their students to become well-rounded members of society, but also become a kind of mentor – someone to turn to if they don't understand something inside or outside the classroom. Some may also love the work-life balance that can come with the role, as some have the opportunity to take summers off to rejuvenate themselves for the next school year.

8. Mechanical engineer

Average salary: $77,500
educational requirements

Bachelor (four years)
High school diploma (recommended)
Industry certifications and experience

Mechanical engineers may find their jobs satisfying because they are intellectually stimulated by the mathematical and physical problems they work with every day and have constant opportunities to learn new ideas and concepts. From working in product design to manufacturing equipment, there are many career paths in mechanical engineering.

9. Vet

Average salary: $91,500
educational requirements

Bachelor (four years)
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (four years)

Those with a passion for animals are likely to find becoming a veterinarian rewarding because of the constant need to work with the furry friends they love so much. Not only are they there for emergencies, they can likely treat them for a lifetime, as pet owners like to stick with vets they know they can trust.

10. Policeman

A police officer and two children engage in conversation and smile, suggesting he has one of the most fulfilling jobs.

Average salary: $64,000
Educational requirements:

High School Diploma or GED Certificate

Much like firefighters, law enforcement officers can provide a useful service to the public. They work to maintain order in our communities and respond when imminent threats arise. Not only that, but more than ever, law enforcement officers are taking the time to build closer relationships with the communities they protect – all in an effort to inspire a sense of trust and unity.

11. Paramedic

Average salary: $54,500
educational requirements

High school diploma or GED certificate
Certification as an AHA Healthcare Provider or ARC Professional Rescuer.
Purchase the EMT license.
Three months full-time OR part-time experience at an EMS service provider agency

Paramedics could find value in their careers after discovering their genuine passion for medical care, which could inspire them to grow in the medical field – maybe even make them aspire to become a doctor or surgeon. As first responders in an emergency, these medical professionals work tirelessly to get the injured to the hospitals that can provide them with the treatment they need. They also enjoy a much-needed stable work-life balance that encourages personal time due to the intensity of their duties.

12. Pilot

Average salary: $96,500
educational requirements

Bachelor (four years)
Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate issued by the FAA.

Those with a knack for adventure and exploring new places might find becoming a pilot a fulfilling career choice. Often paired with excellent benefits such as benefits such as insurance and retirement plans, accompanied by satisfying pay, these jobs offer opportunities to explore new places while spending time with friends and family back home.

13. Chief Executive

Average salary: $133,391
educational requirements

Bachelor (recommended)
Business and industry experience

Geared towards people with a love of business, responsibility and intellectual challenges, becoming a Chief Executive could be incredibly rewarding. Tasked with coordinating and leading the company's operations, you will be responsible for ensuring projects and other initiatives run smoothly and meeting the goals set for the coming quarters.

14. Psychiatrist

Average salary: $190,000
educational requirements

Bachelor (four years)
Medical studies (four years)
Get a license
Certification by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
Residence (four years)

Although sometimes seen as a difficult profession, psychiatrists do a meaningful job of helping people with their mental health. This fulfilling career comes with important responsibilities as clients seek advice on how to manage personal and sensitive situations in their lives. Psychiatrists could begin to get a sense of their true purpose once patients themselves begin noticing great strides in their progress, or finally establishing a relationship with the patient that is strong enough to grow.

15. Nurse

Average salary: $98,000
educational requirements

Bachelor (four years)
Medical studies (four years)
Pass a National NP Board certification exam

Becoming a nurse, which requires fewer educational requirements than doctors, could be a fulfilling career for those with a passion for medicine and caring for others. They directly care for patients trying to stay physically and mentally healthy.

16. Software Developer

A man uses a wheelchair while seated at his desk during an online meeting. He smiles at the screen and indicates that he is happy to have one of the most fulfilling jobs around.

Average salary: $103,000
educational requirements

Bachelor (four years)

Typically coupled with flexible hours and the ability to work remotely, software developer positions can be fulfilling for those with a passion for problem solving and overcoming challenges and a love of working independently. And coupled with the opportunity to explore industries ranging from healthcare and hospitality to business and marketing, you could help create products and software that make people's lives easier.

17. Speech pathologist

Average salary: $62,500
educational requirements

Bachelor (four years)
Medical studies (four years)

Speech language pathologists can find fulfillment in their careers by helping children learn how to communicate effectively with others by teaching them to read and write. In other circumstances, they could also help people who have recently suffered a stroke regain some of the important language and/or motor skills lost after the injury. You may have challenges to overcome on a daily basis, but there's nothing quite like seeing the work pay off after you've stayed committed.

18. Marketing Specialist

Average salary: $79,000
educational requirements

Bachelor (four years)
High school diploma (recommended)
Industry certifications and experience

If you're a creative individual who loves communicating with others and taking on complex projects, being a marketing professional may be the fulfilling career you're looking for. With the opportunity to combine your skills, creativity and expertise, you can help design and execute marketing campaigns for companies and products you really care about. Marketing managers have the opportunity to cultivate positive relationships with their peers and use their talents to create beautiful material for clients.

19. Cook

Average salary: $55,000
educational requirements

High School Diploma or GED Certificate

A natural interest in culinary arts could be an indicator that a career as a chef could be one of the most fulfilling jobs for you. And after you've developed and honed your skills in the kitchen, you might quickly find that there's almost no better purpose than to be able to fill bellies and put smiles on people's faces.

20. Information Technology Manager

An IT manager, one of the most fulfilling jobs, points to the computer screen and guides her employee through a project.

Average salary: $85,500
educational requirements

Bachelor (four years)
Industry certifications and experience

Many organizations rely on information systems to keep their day-to-day business operations running smoothly, and IT managers support these specific efforts. You are responsible for ensuring that the systems used are always up to date and function properly. These professionals are happy because they know their work is an integral part of their company's success.

Now that you have a better idea of ​​what a fulfilling job is and some concrete examples, you can continue your job search knowing you don't have to choose between prioritizing your financial goals or your happiness.

An infographic describes the psychology behind the most fulfilling jobs.

Sources: BLS | Lemonade | Modern Health | balance| APA | Monster Jobs | McKinsey | Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation

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