By Jacqueline Smith, Forbes
CareerBliss compiled a list of the 20 happiest jobs based on analysis from more than 100,400 employee-generated reviews between February 2011 and January 2012. Employees were asked to rate 10 factors that affect workplace happiness, including one’s relationship with the boss and co-workers, work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks, and control over the work one does on a daily basis.
The employees valued each factor on a five-point scale, and also indicated how important it was to their overall happiness at work. The numbers were combined to find an average rating of overall employee happiness for each respondent, and then sorted by job title to find which occupations had the happiest workers. A minimum of 50 employee reviews was required to be considered for CareerBliss’ 20 Happiest Jobs in America, and executive-level jobs, like chief executive, were excluded from the study.
“Since we tend to spend more waking hours working than doing anything else, our work happiness is a huge factor in our overall happiness,” says CareerBliss’ chief executive, Heidi Golledge. “Nearly every person has a desire to feel valued and content, and a workplace or a career that provides that for its employees is key to not only happiness for the employees but the long-term success of the business.”
The happiest job of all isn’t kindergarten teacher or dentist. It’s software quality assurance engineer. Professionals with this job title are typically involved in the entire software development process to ensure the quality of the final product. This can include processes such as requirements gathering and documentation, source code control, code review, change management, configuration management, release management, and the actual testing of the software, explains Matt Miller, chief technology officer at CareerBliss.
With an index score of 4.24, software quality assurance engineers said they are more than satisfied with the people they work with and the company they work for. They’re also fairly content with their daily tasks and bosses.
These professionals “typically make between $85,000 and $100,000 a year in salary and are the gatekeepers for releasing high quality software products,” Miller says. Organizations generally will not allow software to be released until it has been fully tested and approved by their software quality assurance group, he adds.
Golledge says, “In past studies, we have noted that the long hours and intense demands on software engineers’ time caused them to rank as less than happy. However, we are happy to report that software quality assurance engineers feel rewarded at work, as they are typically the last stop before software goes live and correctly feel that they are an integral part of the job being done at the company.”
Tied for the second most blissful job is executive chef and property manager; both earned an index score of 4.15. Executive chefs, also known as chefs de cuisine or head cooks, do everything from menu creation and staff training to ordering and purchasing inventory. They cite the work that they do and the people they work with as the main drivers of their happiness.
Property managers plan, direct, or coordinate the selling, buying, leasing, or governance activities of real estate properties, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers in this profession are most satisfied with the people they work with and the work that they do.
“Many of the happiest jobs have some component with working with people,” Golledge says. “Folks who work with others tend to rate their happiness higher on our site.”
Bank teller and warehouse manager round out the top five happiest jobs in America, with index scores of 4.14 and 4.13, respectively.
“The roles that we did not expect to see were teller, accountant, and financial analyst,” she says. “Even though all three of these positions ranked low on compensation, they all ranked very high on ‘the company you work for’ and ‘the people you work with.’ Clearly, working with like-minded folks who share a love for calculators and numbers drive their happiness.”
A few support roles, like customer service reps and administrative assistants, also made the list. Why? “Through our research we have seen that many people who take on these roles are typically happy supporting or servicing other people, and are therefore fulfilled in their jobs.”
Golledge adds, “We have also noticed that happiness definitely does not align with pay, and once someone’s basic needs are met, the additional money on the job is a nice perk but is not what drives employee happiness.”
CareerBliss also found that many people appreciate their jobs more in a down economy. “As the job market is improving every day, we see that employees are looking to evaluate if they are happy in their current position and if their company is providing the type of culture they identify with,” Golledge says. “This year will be a very important year for employers as employees look at a possible career or job change to improve their satisfaction at work.”