Her Campus already shared with you the highest paying jobs for women in America. But while money might translate into a new Louis Vuitton bag, it doesn’t necessarily translate into happiness. So HC tracked down University of Chicago’s list of the jobs with the happiest workers, and has the low-down on each one. Because everyone deserves to have a job that makes them smile.
#10 Airline Pilots and Navigators
Median Hourly Rate: $63
Job Description: We all know basically what pilots and navigators do: they fly planes. But more specifically, pilots and navigators must create flight plans, react to changing weather or airplane conditions, and communicate with air traffic control, flight attendants, and passengers. Most pilots spend approximately 75 hours per month flying, and spend the rest of their time working from the ground.
Is it for you? Do you enjoy soaring above the clouds? If so, then maybe it’s the right career for you. But when you’re flying a plane, you can’t be watching a movie or staring at the clouds; you must be alert the entire time. Time zones make it even easier to doze off, so if you’re prone to fatigue, flying isn’t for you. Pilots must also be calm under pressure and able to make quick decisions in the face of danger.
#9 Industrial Engineers
Median Salary: $61,720
Job Description: You know on Grey’s Anatomy when McDreamy asks a nurse for a scalpel? Industrial engineers came up with that system. Industrial engineers focus on the process of doing business efficiently. Combining economics, math, physics, and psychology, they figure out how much of something should be made, how it should be made, and how many workers are needed to make it.
Is it for you? If you enjoy math, statistics, and analyzing data, industrial engineering might be right for you. But no loners allowed! Industrial engineers frequently work as teams, give presentations, and write reports, so make sure your social and communication skills are up to par.
#8 Auto Mechanics
Median Hourly Rate: $15.26
Job Description: Auto mechanics find and fix problems with cars and other motor vehicles. But it’s more than just going under the hood and tinkering around; nowadays mechanics must also repair the computer equipment that helps cars run. Some mechanics specialize in particular parts of the car, while others are generalists.
Is it for you? When your car stalls, do you open the hood and look around or do you call AAA? If it’s the former, then you might like being a mechanic. Besides an interest in cars, mechanics must also have strong reading, math and computer skills, as well as be good communicators who can clearly explain car problems to their costumers.
#7 Science Technicians
Median Salary: $72,435
Job Description: Science technicians work in laboratories; they set-up experiments, operate laboratory equipment, monitor experiments, record observations, and copy down data. Some may also develop experiments and interpret the results. Many science technicians work in research and development, trying to create new and better consumer products.
Is it for you? While the educational requirements vary greatly by the specific position, all science technicians must have strong analytical, organizational, and communication skills. And if you don’t think of science as a super social field, know that you shouldn’t become a technician unless you’re a people person! Teamwork is a major part of the job.
#6 Actors and Directors
Median Salary: varies greatly
Job Description: Lights, Camera, Action! Acting and directing covers such a wide range of possibilities, meaning you could be doing anything from directing a Broadway show to saying a few short lines in a commercial. Be prepared to work weird hours or travel when necessary, and know that you might need supplemental income from other jobs (waitressing, anyone?).
Is it for you? Everyone wants to like their job, but to make it as an actor or a director you have to really LOVE it (maybe that’s why it’s #6 on the happiness list). Unless you’re Meryl Streep, there’s pretty much no job security, and luck more than anything might control your success. But if you’re talented and passionate, go for it! You may just find your way in LA or on Broadway.
#5 Special Education Teachers
Median Salary: $41,344 (elementary school and younger), $43,060 (secondary school)
Job Description: Special education teachers mostly work with students who have mild cognitive, emotional, or physical disabilities, though in some cases, special education teachers work with students who have more severe disabilities. Most work in schools, either in their own special education classroom or with another teacher in a regular classroom.
Is it for you? Patience is key, as special education students can have difficulty grasping the classroom curriculum. Creativity is also important; special education teachers often create individual methods to teach individual students. Though demanding, teaching special education can prove rewarding because it has visible, positive effects on students’ lives.
Median Salary: $54,079
Job Description: Whether you’re attending class or sleeping through it, you spend a large amount of time inside the buildings architects create. From conceptualizing the design to checking in on the construction crews, architects are there every step of the way and for every type of building. “There’s a certain amount of satisfaction that comes from doing projects that you know have some sort of impact on people’s lives,” says architect Terry Cohn, who is currently designing low and middle-income housing units.
Is it for you? When in school, Terry was told an architect needs to be “a good businessman,” “a good designer,” and “a good technician.” But it’s “very rare to find all three qualities in person,” says Terry. In many architectural firms, people will specialize in what they’re best at. Still, all architects should aim to have strong technical knowledge, computer skills, and presentation skills.
#3 Travel Agents
Median Hourly Rate: $14.23
Job Description: Despite “travel” being in their name, travel agents spend most of their time behind an office desk, planning vacations for others. They become knowledgeable in one or many destinations, so they can easily advise on and organize their clients’ trips. They book hotels, order tickets, and arrange transportation. The cool part? To become an expert in their area, they usually get to do a little traveling. How else would they know what the best restaurant in Paris is?
Is it for you? Enjoyed planning your spring break? Then you might like working as a travel agent. But remember, doing something once for you and your friends is different than doing it every day for clients. Travel agents must be extremely organized, detail-oriented, and like working with people.
Median Salary: $44,553
Job Description: Firefighters have a superhero-esque task: to put out fires and save lives of fire victims. This can vary widely by setting; putting out a forest fire is nothing like saving a burning building. But no matter the setting, firefighters put themselves in the forefront of dangerous situations to save others. When they’re not at an emergency call, firefighters are at the firehouse, maintaining equipment, running practice drills, preparing reports, and exercising to stay in top physical shape.
Is it for you? Such a high-risk job is not for everyone. But if you’re courageous and virtuous, firefighting could be for you. Firefighters must also be in good physical condition and have the strength and endurance to meet the physical demands putting out fires requires. They must also be quick decision-makers who can deal with the stress of an emergency situation.
Median Salary: $44,102
Job Description: Clergy covers all manner of religious leaders. But no matter what religion a clergy member is part of, they conduct religious ceremonies and services and provide spiritual guidance for members of their community. “My job is the total of the things I find important and meaningful,” says Rabbi Neil Tow of Glen Rock Jewish Center. “I have a strong sense of motivation and a strong sense of mission.”
Is it for you? Passionate about your religion but unsure where you stand about your beliefs? “I think it’s important to be on a journey of faith, but you don’t have to be someone who believes everything,” says Rabbi Tow. However, it’s necessary to develop strong interpersonal skills and have empathy and sensitivity, and these skills come out of experience. “There isn’t a class for that,” he says.
Terry Cohn, architect
Rabbi Neil Tow, Glen Rock Jewish Center