Fire Fighting Among Top Three Jobs for Satisfaction

A new report from the University of Chicago found fire fighters to be some of the most satisfied and happiest of American workers, directly behind clergy.

The top three jobs for satisfaction were clergy (87 percent reporting being very satisfied), fire fighters (80 percent) and physical therapists (78 percent). On the happiness scale, clergy also were on top, with 67 percent very happy. Fire fighters were again second on the list, with 57 percent saying they were very happy. Across all occupations, on average, 47 percent of people said they were very satisfied with their jobs and 33 percent said they were very happy.

“The most satisfying jobs are mostly professions, especially those involving caring for, teaching and protecting others,” said Tom Smith, director of the General Social Survey (GSS) at the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center.

The survey is the most comprehensive of its kind to explore satisfaction and happiness among American workers. The GSS asked a large variety of questions of a representative sample of Americans in face-to-face interviews. They asked people how satisfied they were with their jobs, then also asked them about their general level of happiness. Smith correlated those general happiness findings with the jobs people held. People’s feelings about their work usually have a significant impact on their happiness, he said.

Previous studies have shown that job satisfaction increases with prestige or social standings, and many of the people reporting high satisfaction and happiness in this study also have jobs respected by society, according to Smith.

The report “Job Satisfaction in the United States” is available at

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