At a Career Crossroads? Consider These 4 Unexpectedly Rewarding Careers

Aug 11, 2014

Choices of a businessman

The Cabinet Office in the U.K. has studied people in different occupations to find out how job satisfaction and happiness relate. Recent research about the most satisfying careers takes a look at how wellbeing analysis should influence government policy. They proposed to drastically reform how public policy is made by looking at increasing people’s overall satisfaction with their lives rather than only looking at the economic GDP growth.

Some of the career findings were surprising. Topping the list were executives and company secretaries. And, some were expected such as telephone sales and industrial cleaning positions hitting the bottom of the list. The study found that the happiest workers are vicars and priests, states The Guardian. Here are four other surprisingly rewarding careers:

Food Science

If you’re not on the path for a religious career, you may want to explore some other rewarding careers. A major in food science and technology provides individuals with a choice of interesting, lifetime careers with high starting salaries, states the University of Delaware. UDel assistant professor of food chemistry Cathy Davies says she’s heard from many food chemistry graduates that are starting off in well-paid positions with challenging opportunities rather than the expected bland entry-level roles.

She cites several students’ enjoyable positions including one in the applications department at flavor ingredient supplier Citrus and Allied Essences. He gets to travel to manufacturing companies and demonstrate how new flavors work in food products through taste applications. Ward says the flavor industry is very diverse, and the opportunities for growth and learning are what he loves best about it.

Human Resources Managers

While a satisfying career is not always about the money, it sure helps if what you love pays well, too. Forbes analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics data to find that the top 10 percent of human resources managers, technical writers and detective and criminal investigators make more than $100,000 a year. HR manager also made the list of Canada’s 20 Best Jobs 2014 in Canadian Business.

Human resources gets to interact with employees and management, and help people get acquainted with company policies, benefits and training and development opportunities. Human resources managers also have a direct impact on people in an organization and help companies comply with employment law.


Payscale’s recent survey asked professionals, “Does your job make the world a better place?” It yielded the top most meaningful positions were clergy, religious activities and education directors, surgeons, elementary and secondary education administrators and chiropractors.

Payscale’s lead economist Katie Bardaro calls jobs that pay well and are highly meaningful “the cream of the crop.” Their survey also showed that the most meaningful, highest paying career is neurosurgeon, and that 97 percent of neurosurgeons feel their work is highly meaningful. Cardiothoracic surgeon came out as the second most meaningful, top paying job.

Nonprofessional Work

The list of Canada’s 20 Best Jobs 2014 by Canadian Business included a couple of surprisingly nonprofessional careers: longshore worker and primary production manager. Jobs in fields that used to be considered mundane can offer surprising rewards and opportunities.

For example, the pest management industry is expected to have a 20 percent increase in growth through 2022, claims PestWorld. Working as an exterminator can offer a variety of interesting career paths including jobs as field technicians, managers and sales and marketing professionals. This job includes helping rid homes and commercial facilities of unhealthy and possibly dangerous pest problems, a wide variety of activities and a rewarding and challenging career for someone interested in bugs, animals and problem solving.