Money can’t buy happiness — or job satisfaction


Happiness in a job depends on a combination of factors, including whether the position fits with your skill set and interests, how it meets your expectations (and how you’re meeting the organization’s expectations), the salary and perks, growth potential, culture, and relevance to the enterprise’s core strategic mission.

It’s a very individual thing. There are people in what you might consider “dream jobs” who are miserable, and there are  some folks who are perfectly content in positions you might deem, shall we say, unenviable.

But it turns out there is a higher percentage of happier workers in some technology jobs than in others. A recent data analysis by employment and anonymous employer/manager review site Glassdoor highlighted 20 jobs with the highest satisfaction scores, of which five are tech-oriented. All 20 jobs are listed below, with the five tech jobs bolded.

  1. Recruiting Manager (Job satisfaction score: 4.6 on a scale of 5)  
  2. Dental Hygienist (4.5)
  3. Sales operations manager (4.5)
  4. Product designer (4.5)
  5. Marketing assistant (4.3)
  6. Construction manager (4.3)
  7. Brand manager (4.3)
  8. Data scientist (4.3)
  9. Customer success manager (4.2)
  10. HR coordinator (4.2)
  11. HR manager (4.2)
  12. Communications manager (4.2)
  13. Marketing manager (4.2)
  14. Software development manager (4.2)
  15. Financial consultant (4.2)
  16. Enterprise account executive (4.2)
  17. Executive chef (4.2)
  18. Product engineer (4.1)
  19. Law clerk (4.1)
  20. Sales engineer (4.1)

Now let’s pull those five tech jobs and list them in the order above, along with their median base salaries.

  • Product designer: $100,000
  • Data scientist: $108,000
  • Software development manager: $140,000
  • Product engineer: $77,500
  • Sales engineer: $90,000

One thing that jumps out right away is that there’s no direct correlation between median base salary and overall satisfaction rating. In fact, the highest-rated job — recruiting manager — ranks only No. 13 in total salary on that list of 20. And while we’re talking money, three of the four jobs in the top 20 paying at least $100,000 are tech positions (the fourth is enterprise account executive at $100,000). Further, the lowest-paid position on the list — marketing assistant ($34,000) — is ranked No. 5.

Clearly pay is an important factor in a worker’s level of satisfaction, but it’s hardly the driving force for everybody, or maybe even most people. That can work to the benefit of organizations which may not have deep pockets, yet can offer employees stimulating and relevant work, a strong and healthy culture, opportunities for growth, and other intangibles that contribute to a person’s happiness on the job.

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