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Which jobs have the highest levels of happiness?

Choosing a job – or switching careers – is one of the biggest decisions we make. In a survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, people rated it as more significant than when to start a family, whether to get married or where to live.

It all makes sense: we spend nearly a third of our lives at work, so choosing something rewarding is likely to have a big impact on our overall happiness.

But how do you know which career paths are most likely to lead to fulfilment? One way is to examine which workers are happiest in their jobs right now. So, we brought together the results of several careers and happiness surveys to find out.

What are the common factors? Many of the jobs have modest salaries and they’re far from offering an easy life. Instead, they tend to involve things that make a tangible difference to helping people.

As the careers advice website 80,000 Hours said after reviewing 60 studies on happiness at work: “If you put making a valuable contribution to the world first, you’ll develop passion for what you do.” Take a look at our list of the jobs that put a smile on your face – and what you need to do them.

Physical therapist

With plenty of positive social interaction and the knowledge that you’re helping people get stronger and more active, physical therapists know they’ve got a great job and research from the University of Chicago backs them up.

How to do it: You’ll need a degree in physiotherapy – studying A Levels, a vocational course in biological sciences or a science-based access course is a good start.

Find out more about our A Level courses and Access to Higher Education in Health, Science Professions

Gardener

Fresh air, lots of activity and the satisfaction of seeing your work bloom before your eyes makes being a gardener one of the happiest jobs, according to research by The Guardian.

How to do it: Many jobs won’t require any qualifications except your natural green fingers, but you can build expertise with our horticulture courses.

Clergy

It’s all about helping other people – from offering comfort in their darkest times to sharing in the joy of events like weddings and the birth of children. The Office of National Statistics has collected data on workplace happiness for three years, and the results found clergy had the most satisfaction in life.

How to do it: Qualifications depend on the religious denomination you belong to – in the Church of England, for instance, you’d train at a theological college.

Engineer

There are few jobs where you get to see such tangible impact as engineers, who get to enjoy tackling complex problems and seeing their solutions brought to life as machines, buildings or systems. That’s why it’s been named in several surveys as one of the most fulfilling roles.

How to do it: You can start with A Levels or a vocational course and work your way up as far as a PhD – the sky’s the limit when it comes to making use of qualifications.

Check our own engineering courses

Firefighter

Well, not every job gives you the chance to be a hero, does it? Few tasks are as demanding as the one we require of firefighters but saving people from peril puts them right near the top of some job satisfaction league tables.

How to do it: You only need good GCSE grades in English and maths, but you’ll have to take physical and written tests as part of the selection process.

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