highest job satisfaction
Liking what you do isn't a pipe dream. Source: Yana Paskova/AFP

Stressed, unfulfilled, laid off — that’s what workers all around the world are dealing with. It’s hardly the picture of folks with the highest job satisfaction.

With employee stress at a new all-time high, only 21% of employees engaged at work, and hundreds of thousands of layoffs reported since January, it can seem like the degrees that lead to the highest job satisfaction are just a dream.

Look deeper into the stats and a different story emerges. This is because these figures reflect the collective voice of the global employee.

It’s the sum of all industries. This means some industries do better than the rest when it comes to striving to produce the highest job satisfaction.

And if you have the right degree, you too can join their fulfilled, if not entirely blissful, ranks.

But first, what does “highest job satisfaction” even mean?

Unlocking the secrets to career bliss: The meaning of ‘highest job satisfaction’

For some, it could mean working in a safe space where colleagues are supportive and under a compassionate leader.

Others may want more materials things, such as an endless supply of snacks, bean bags, or a gym.

Then there are those who want flexibility or work-life balance.

Certain groups of people like parents for example, might value a company that offers a great work-life balance so they can be productive at work and still spend time with their families.

The converse wants to win promotion after promotion regardless of the cost. They are okay with spending nights and weekends in the office.

It boils down to the culture of the company and what you want — the smaller the gap between this, the more satisfied one feels.

A study by Robert Half Solutions showed that 35% of job seekers will refuse a job offer if the company’s culture is poor according to them.

It was also reported that 58% of employees quit their jobs because of their managers.

A company that seems to have found a way to cultivate the highest job satisfaction is Google.

According to compensation and data company PayScale, nearly three-quarters of Google employees find their jobs meaningful, saying that “Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

It’s close but this is hardly a definitive statement of what leads to the highest job satisfaction.

There aren’t any right or wrong answers, it all depends on you, your life and your wants and needs.

That’s why it’s important to know which degrees lead to careers with the highest job satisfaction.

Know them in and out and you just might identify whether they fit you. The better the fit, the likelier you are to love going to work every day.

10 best degrees that lead to the highest job satisfaction: 

highest job satisfaction

A career as a dental hygienist leads to the highest job satisfaction. Source: John Moore/AFP

1. Bachelor of Dental Hygiene 

If you think spending your day looking into people’s mouths all day can’t bring you happiness, think again. Pursuing a career as a dental hygienist has been found to lead to the highest job satisfaction. 

Based on a survey done by PayScale, a career in this field has ranked in the top 50 for job satisfaction compared to more than 500 professions.

This high ranking is further confirmed by Glassdoor’s job satisfaction survey in 2019, where the career as a dental hygienist ranked second.

Why are dental hygiene graduates so happy?

The main reason is being dental hygienists earn a considerably high salary while enjoying the work-life balance the profession offers. Dental hygienists earn a median annual salary of US$97,836 in the US

The Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) predicts that the number of jobs for dental hygienists will grow by 6% by 2029. 

The ability to help patients manage their overall health through dental practices and form relationships with them contributes to this job’s high ranking as well.

To secure a career in this field, you will need to obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. Here are some of the best universities to earn your qualification:

  • University of Wyoming, US
  • University of Birmingham, UK
  • Curtin University, Australia 

2. Bachelor in Early Childhood Education 

While you do have to deal with children all day, a career as an early childhood educator does boast some of the highest job satisfaction.

Teachers are responsible for helping their students learn, be inspired and reach their full potential — all of which not only give us warm, fuzzy feelings, but something more profound as well — fulfilment. 

Even better news? Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an 18% increase in this area over the next decadeThe average annual salary of an early childhood educator in the US is around US$42,436.

To qualify for this role, you must complete an accredited programme at a recognised university or higher education institution.

If you are ready to take on that responsibility, here are some universities that offer a bachelor’s in early childhood education:

  • Purdue University, US
  • University of Portsmouth, UK 
  • University of Sydney, Australia 
highest job satisfaction

Anesthesiologists may have heavy duties, but they’re highly satisfied. Source: Jack Guez/AFP

3. Bachelor of Science in Anesthesiology

While most jobs in the medical line have high-stress levels, this does not apply to anesthesiologists. 

Not only do anesthesiologists enjoy several weeks of paid vacation time per year, but they also earn a high salary of US$359,352 annually

Anesthesiologists help patients before they are put under anaesthesia and monitor their progress. To succeed in this line, you will require specific and niche skills. 

To gain those skills, start with a bachelor’s degree from one of the best universities offering programmes in anaesthesia. This includes: 

  • Johns Hopkins University, US
  • King’s College London, UK
  • University of Sydney, Australia

4. Bachelor of Psychology

While being a psychologist is no easy feat, it can bring high levels of job satisfaction, especially as you are helping others with what’s arguable their most crucial body part: their mind.

The employment of psychologists is projected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031, with about 14,100 job openings projected each year. 

Not only do psychologists earn a high salary of US$101,457 a year, but they also have the highest satisfaction rates.

According to the American Psychological Association, about 93% of 187,000 psychologists in the US reported feeling “somewhat satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their jobs. 

To become a psychologist, you will first need the appropriate qualifications, starting with a bachelor’s degree. Here are some universities to consider: 

  • Princeton University, US
  • University of Cambridge, UK
  • University of Sydney, Australia
highest job satisfaction

Nursing is known as a rewarding profession. Source: Jack Guez/AFP

5. Bachelor of Nursing 

If you have a passion for medicine but want more direct caring of patients, nursing might be just the job for you. 

Nursing is considered to be a career with the highest job satisfaction. This comes mainly from the fact that you will get to form relationships with your patients and help them get better. 

Nurses are also some of the highest paid in the world, earning around US$93,632 per year.  

In the US, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) notes that nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession, with over 4.2 million registered nurses nationwide. 

The Bureau of Labour Statistics has predicted that the demand for registered nurses is expected to grow by 46% by the year 2031

If you are interested in pursuing an education in nursing, here are the best universities in the world to do so:

  • University of Pennsylvania, US
  • King’s College London, UK
  • Johns Hopkins University, US

6. Bachelor in Human Resource Management 

If you are a people person, then a career as a human resource manager will be perfect for you.

Although they’re involved with suspending or firing workers, those in this line have reported high levels of job satisfaction.

Four-fifths of US HR employees feel satisfied with their jobs. 

Glassdoor’s findings show HR manager havea high job satisfaction score of 4.2 out of five stars. 

This is likely due to their duties about finding and keeping talented people.

HR professionals spend their days creating and implementing programmes and policies related to staffing, training, recruiting, payroll, benefits, employee relations, governmental regulations, health and safety protocols and more.

They’re doing things for the greater good of the company — while earning US$80,014 a year.

Many are welcome to experience such positive feelings. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the human resources management field is expected to grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030.

To land a position as an HR manager, you will first need a bachelor’s degree in human resource management. Consider these universities to gain your qualification: 

  • Washington University, US
  • University of Edinburgh, UK
  • University of Melbourne, Australia 

With an undergraduate degree, you will be able to secure an entry-level position. However, to advance in your career, you may need to complete a master’s degree. 

7. Bachelor in Digital Marketing 

If you’re someone who’s outgoing and enjoys promoting a portfolio of clients to the world, then you should consider pursuing a career as a social media director. 

Social media directors work with a company’s goals and branding to develop strategies for connecting with consumers through social media platforms. 

This includes managing content creators, content schedules, and social media metrics. 

They’re always creating things — one of the oldest ways humans have derived satisfaction from.

Although Careers Explorer reports that social media directors don’t find their work meaningful, however as a whole, survey participants rated their enjoyment of their work environment 3.6/5. 

They also pointed out that personality fit plays a part in affecting job satisfaction.  

The average salary for a social media director is US$87,286.

Digital marketing degrees are mostly offered at a postgraduate level but there are online courses available such as Google Digital Garage.

Consider these two unis offering one of the best majors in digital marketing: 

  • Bryant University
  • Geneva Business School


highest job satisfaction

UX designers rate their job satisfaction score at 72% as reported by MeasuringU — the highest job satisfaction among those who straddle technology and creative arts. Source: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP

8. Bachelor in UX Design

While User Experience (UX) design can be a difficult career, most UX/UI designers are happy in their roles.

UX designers rate their job satisfaction score at 72% as reported by MeasuringU. Glassdoor also included UX design in a list of the top 50 jobs in the US based on earning potential, number of job openings, and overall job satisfaction.

UX designers study user preferences and experiences to find ways to improve digital assets. An optimal user experience can positively impact a company’s reputation, consumer base, and bottom line.

But perhaps more profound is how they’re helping people use technology. The reason why you’re reading this so seamlessly on your sleek smartphone is due to UX design graduates.

If you have an interest in being a UX designer, these are the best unis to go to:

  • Royal College of Art
  • The New School
  • Politecnico di Milano

9. Bachelor in Occupational Therapy

Similar to physical therapists, occupational therapists (OT) help the ill or injured live and work normally through daily therapy.

OTs perform physical assessments, develop personalised treatment plans, and make supportive recommendations for home and work environments.

Imagine helping a grandma walk again after knee replacement surgery so she can visit her grandchildren.

Or helping a child with disabilities take part in school so that they don’t feel left out from their able-bodied friends.

All of this are meaningful — and naturally, lead to some of the highest job satisfaction.

Here are three unis with the best undergraduate programmes for occupational therapy:

  • University of Washington – Seattle
  • University of Queensland
  • University of Toronto
highest job satisfaction

Veterinarians rate their career happiness 3.7 out of 5 stars — recording some of the highest job satisfaction among top professions. Source: Sam Panthaky/AFP

10. Bachelor in Animal Science

Being a veterinarian can be stressful but veterinarians rate their career happiness 3.7 out of 5 stars which puts them in the top 20% of careers based on Career Explorer.

This makes it the best careers to pursue with the highest job satisfaction.

Consider these unis to be a veterinarian:

  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • Cornell University
  • Sao Paulo State University