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Top 10 careers for satisfaction and fulfilment

by Marianne Stenger

Do you love your job? Does it satisfy you? There are so many important factors when it comes to defining what makes a worthwhile career. Here, we talk to the experts to find 10 jobs almost anyone could do that might really enhance your life.

Although opinions about what constitutes the ‘perfect’ job vary widely, one thing we can probably all agree on when it comes to choosing a career is that it should be satisfying.

Finding a way to do what you love while still making enough money to get by isn’t always easy, but it’s certainly worthwhile. Employees who are engaged in their work tend to be more productive, have higher self-esteem, and enjoy better overall health and work/life balance.

But what’s the main difference between a job you truly love and one that just pays the bills?

One report from an international cabinet office shows that although money can make us happy to a certain extent, other factors like social support and opportunities for development and growth can actually influence our satisfaction at work far more than our pay cheque.

Feeling challenged is also important, and often the most satisfying jobs provide both feedback and variety, while also allowing for some independence.

In Australia, the happiest workers tend to be those who run their own business or work for a small or medium enterprise.

This is hardly surprising considering that people who run their own business often have more control and confidence in their work situation, and smaller teams are able to work together more closely and provide higher levels of support and feedback.

Based on these factors, here are 10 of the most satisfying careers to get into:

(All pay figures are approximate and based on variations state by state. Head to Pay Scale to find out more specific information. All other figures have been sourced from Job Outlook. All figures as correct at time of publication of post.)

1. Fashion designer

find the top careers for satisfaction


Fashion designers are ranked highly on the list of most satisfying careers, which is no surprise considering that they generally have a great deal of independence and control over how they work. Many even go on to start their own custom clothing business or online retail store.

Salary: AU$34,078 – AU$81,253

2. Dental assistant

top 10 careers for satisfaction

Dental assistants are expected to be in high demand in the coming five years, and the number of expected jobs is between 10,000 and 25,000. Because dental assistants tend to work in smaller teams and have a close working relationship with their immediate supervisors, their level of job satisfaction is generally high.

Salary: AU$25,850 – AU$53,205

3. Author or freelance writer

The opportunity to use skills and talents is an important contributor to job satisfaction, so it’s no surprise that writing is ranked as one of the happiest jobs. Authors and writers also have more freedom to dictate their own working hours, and often spend more time at home, which supports a healthy work/life balance.

Salary: AU$35,378 – AU$93,701

4. Executive or administration assistant

Working as an administrative or executive assistant not only pays well, but also provides opportunities for developing wider life skills like problem solving. Another factor that contributes to job satisfaction is the variation of the work. Along with administrative duties, an executive assistant’s job includes things like organising business travel, arranging meetings and coordinating business resources.

Salary: AU$46,599 – AU$79,483

5. Early childhood educator

Teaching professionals and early childhood educators are often ranked as some of the happiest workers due to the sense of meaning they derive from their work.

Salary: AU$30,787 – AU$69,410

6. Accountant

Job security is another big determinant of career satisfaction, and if you’re looking to make a career change, accountancy just might be a good option. Accountants were ranked as some of the most in-demand workers for 2014, and around 21,400 new accountancy jobs are expected to be added by 2017.

Salary: AU$38,989 – AU$79,016

7. Travel consultant

Working as a travel consultant can be both challenging and rewarding as it provides plenty of opportunity for working both one-on-one with clients as well as independently. Broader skills that will be gained in this career include communication skills, problem-solving skills and the ability to work under pressure.

Salary: AU$27,404 – AU$50,750

8. Dietitian or dietetic assistant

There is a growing demand for dietitians (and those that support them as professional assistants) in Australia and overseas, and the ability to advise patients and their families about proper nutritional care makes it a rewarding and satisfying career. Although dietitians often work in hospitals or nursing care facilities, they may also work with clients privately, and many go on to set up their own practice.

Salary: AU$41,427 – AU$67,241

9. Fitness instructor

top careers for satisfaction

As with teaching, the ability to help others engage in a healthier lifestyle helps personal trainers and fitness instructors to derive more meaning from their job. Aside from this, the ability to be active throughout the day as well as the varied nature of this job makes it one of the top most satisfying careers to pursue.

Salary: AU$24,076 – AU$61,277

10. Physiotherapist or physiotherapy assistant

The ageing population and higher healthcare costs mean that the job outlook for most healthcare professionals is good, and jobs are widely available in both suburban and city areas. Physiotherapists and the professionals that assist them are some of the most sought-after and in-demand roles within this sector.

Salary: AU$44,947 – AU$61,314

At the end of the day, finding a career you love and that enables you to use your specific skills and talents can have a huge impact on every aspect of your life, both personal and professional.

Over to you!

If you’re looking to ease into a new career or test the waters to see if you might be better suited to another line of work, an online course could be the perfect stepping stone. Changing careers is more common than you might think, and the average adult will change careers between 4 and 7 times in their life.


Photos by Art CommentsKatie Klimek and Conor Lawless – thanks!

Ready to start a career you can be proud of?

Open Colleges offers a range of courses that could get you on the path to starting a truly fulfilling career. Find out more here.

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