Blog: Creativity, Control or Money: What makes your job satisfying?

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Creativity, Control or Money: What makes your job satisfying?

Is your job in the list of most satisfying jobs? Lets find out.
Creativity, Control or Money: What makes your job satisfying?

The human brain is wired to chase happiness, satisfaction and comfort.  Simply getting by, is usually not enough, and as one of the most intelligent species on the planet (debatable), we seek purpose and contentment in every activity we do. Unsurprisingly, our jobs are no different. 

But what are the professions that provide maximum career satisfaction?

Furthermore, what is the biggest factor of satisfaction in our work?

One is tempted to answer that jobs that pay exceptionally well would result is maximum career satisfaction, and the money that is credited at the end of every month, gives the most satisfaction. However, if a recent survey by Sokanu, a career discovery platform, is anything to go by, this answer is way off the mark.

The organisation surveyed over 46,000 global employees over a period of roughly one year, and ranked a list of careers on a scale of one to five, in levels of satisfaction. The results say that a higher salary doesn’t automatically translate to higher levels of satisfaction, but being in control of different aspects of our work life makes us happy. Furthermore, the findings also show that careers that require no formal education or training might be the most fun, but are not necessarily fulfilling. Lastly, careers which satisfy the more right-brain interests of artistry and social interaction are generally more satisfying than independent and conventional interests.

Here are the top 10 careers, which are most satisfying, as established by the survey:

  1. Chief executive officer

  2. Film director

  3. Author

  4. Singer

  5. Entrepreneur

  6. Art director

  7. Filmmaker

  8. Career counsellor

  9. Industrial designer

  10. Musician


It is interesting to note that only one of the careers that made it to the list, CEO, pays a high salary. In fact, all the careers that were rated 3.5 or higher do not pay well, conventionally. The top ten received an overall ranking of 4.0 or higher. “This data suggests that money doesn’t always make us much happier at work,” said Saeid Fard, President, Sokanu. “In fact, careers that don’t promise wealth often end up making us happier. All but one of the top-ten careers do not usually have six-figure salaries associated. The common denominator between the careers that ranked highest seemed to be creative expression, and a high degree of control.”

Reiterating the importance of creative expression and control, the careers that ranked low, were mostly customer service representatives. Although law did not make it to the bottom 10, it scored less than 3/5, which indicates a relative high level of dissatisfaction. “It’s interesting to note that low-ranking careers included law and finance, both of which have a much higher earnings potential than other low-ranking career categories, such as Food & Beverage or Construction,” said Spencer Thompson, CEO, Sokanu. “From this list, we can see that just as creativity and control make us happy, service positions often make us miserable, regardless of the salary potential associated.” The following were the least satisfying careers (starting with the lowest ranked) according to the survey, and scored an overall ranking of less than 2.2:

  1. Janitor 
  2. Quality Control Inspector
  3. House Cleaner 
  4. Retail Salesperson/Cashier
  5. Delivery Service Driver/ Food Delivery Truck Driver
  6. Bank Teller 
  7. Food Server 
  8. Financial Clerk 
  9. Shipping/Receiving Clerk 
  10. Barista


The organisation, that helps people find their ideal career, in alignment with their interests, personality traits, and skills, describes career satisfaction as a measure of how content people are with their overall work or various facets of their work. The five facets that they focussed on while measuring career satisfaction include: overall satisfaction, interest, work environment, personality, and skill utilization. The results, although not exactly a revelation, force one to introspect the various dimensions that constitute work satisfaction for us individually. The fact, that a fat pat cheque doesn’t come bundled up with satisfaction or happiness, is no news. However, stories of young individuals who choose to forego the comforts of conventional careers to go after what they want (with rising awareness, exposure, financial backing of course) are increasingly making news. There is also, no dearth of people in their forties and fifties, who venture into an enterprise of their own, after having worked for a few good years in the corporate sector, solely to satiate that kick of creativity. All these trends might indicate that the terminology of what constitutes a career, success and happiness might be very slowly, nudging towards being more inclusive. Nonetheless, the choice to go after satisfaction more often than not fails to circumvent the challenge of getting by, and hence, despite this knowledge being in public domain, seldom will people follow it. 

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