IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

America's happiest careers (it's not about the money)

A new survey reveals the key driver for employee happiness does not come in the form of a paycheck, but in a worker's sense of accomplishment, relationships with peers and the feeling of personal control over day-to-day tasks.
Image: Biotech workers
Biotechnology workers took top marks in the survey. These workers make a career out of tweaking mother nature: Biotech workers value their coworkers over all other factors.thinkstock
/ Source: Forbes

If you think your administrative assistant hates her job, think again. A new survey from job site shows that they actually value their work, their colleagues — even their boss — more than dozens of other professions. A recent survey revealed the top 10 happiest professions in America. And, yes, your secretary's was one of them.

To evaluate the data, CareerBliss conducted 200,000 independent employee reviews from 70,000 jobs all over the country to collect 1.6 million data points on nine factors of workplace happiness. These included the employee's relationship with their boss and co-workers, their work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks and job control over the work that they do on a daily basis. slide show: The 10 happiest jobs in America

Each factor was followed by a ranking of how important that element was in the employee's overall happiness. These numbers were combined to find an average rating of overall employee happiness for each job type.

What the results make clear is that employee happiness doesn’t come from high paychecks alone. Instead, the three components of a job that employees overwhelmingly responded were the most important factors in keeping them happy were:

  • The specific tasks a job entails on a day-to-day basis.

  • How much control the employee has over his or her daily tasks.

  • Relationships with co-workers and customers, including supervisors and colleagues.

In fact, according to Heidi Golledge, CEO of CareerBliss, while "salary is always an important component of every job … the research shows that money is not enough to keep good employees happy. From the employer's perspective, realizing salary is not one of the key drivers of workplace happiness can help employers focus on the areas which will drive job satisfaction to create a happier environment for all." slide show: The 10 happiest cities to work in America

Careers in biotechnology ranked as the No. 1 happiest job in America, according to CareerBliss. "In biotech, the people that they work with, and more specifically the person that they work for, tends to rank higher in terms of importance, and employees are overwhelmingly happy with those conditions," says Golledge. Biotechnology employees were also among the most happy with their daily tasks and the level of control they feel they have over that work. She adds that biotechnology is a growth industry, which makes growth opportunities in the field another key ingredient to its workers overall happiness.

Matt Miller, the chief technology officer of Career Bliss, says he was surprised at the No. 2 career on the list, customer service. But a look into the employee responses sheds some light on what might otherwise be considered a thankless job. Miller points to customer service representatives' appreciation for the amount of control they have over their daily tasks and the ability to talk to people every day. "They also tend to value their co-workers more than most industries," he says. slide show: Apps that help you manage your life

In contrast with biotech, where employee-boss relationships were most highly valued, for education employees, who land at No. 3 on the list, the importance of the supervisor fell to the bottom. Teachers valued (in order of importance): the work that they do, the way that they work and the people they work with. Translation: educating children, control over their daily tasks and their fellow teachers. Other career paths included in the top 10 ranking are administrative, purchasing, accounting, finance, nonprofit, health care and law.

The bottom-rung placement of legal professionals at No. 10 is striking. While lawyers earn some of this highest wages, its placement well below much lower-paying fields indicates that money can't buy love — even for your job.

One interesting note is how employees on different career paths emphasize different elements of their job in contributing to their overall happiness — or unhappiness. Still, the overwhelming results of this new data reveals that the key driver for work happiness in all employees does not come in the form of a paycheck, but in a person's sense of accomplishment, their relationship with their peers and the feeling of personal control over day-to-day tasks.

More from

Best business apps for android

10 most common workplace anxieties

America's 20 most miserable cities