Meaningful jobs for people who want to make the world a better place

Looking for more meaning at work? These 13 jobs will give you—and even your wallet—a great sense of fulfillment.

Meaningful jobs for people who want to make the world a better place

Find a meaningful well-paying job.

For most workers, going to work day in and day out can sometimes feel like such a drag. But then there are those other (read: lucky) workers who wake up each day, excited to get back to the grind. Who the heck are those people?

Those are the people whose jobs give them a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment. Jobs where they’re able to make a real impact in the world, whether it’s by saving lives, educating the minds of the future, or helping people find jobs (like us!).

Recently, PayScale asked more than 2 million workers if their job makes the world a better place. According to their findings, the most meaningful jobs are largely based in religion, health care, and education, with greater than 9 in 10 of workers in these jobs reporting high levels of satisfaction in doing good.

And don’t think you won’t get paid well for your good work. While some might believe that the more meaning your job has, the more you’ll get stiffed come pay day, the research found that’s not always true. For example, surgeons, psychiatrists, and anesthesiologists not only get to leave work feeling good about themselves, they also get to take home a six-figure salary. Talk about a win-win situation.

So if you’re looking to help make the world a better place, you’ll want to click through the list below to see which jobs will turn into a rewarding career.

1. Clergy

Percent reporting high levels of meaning at work: 98%
What you’d do: Regardless of what religion you practice, clergy is responsible for conducting religious worship and other spiritual functions related to your particular faith or denomination. Clergy also provides counseling and spiritual assistance to members of their faith.
What you’d need: Many clergy members hold master’s degrees in theology or religious studies.
What you’d make: $47,100 per year

Find all clergy jobs on Monster.

2. Postsecondary English language and literature teachers (tie) 

Percent reporting high levels of meaning at work: 96%
What you’d do: As the title implies, these college educators teach English and literature courses, which can include linguistics and comparative literature. You’ll create the curricula, teach the lessons, develop assignments, and grade students. Research in your area of concentration is also common.
What you’d need: A master’s degree is the usual minimum.
What you’d make: $64,910 per year

Find all postsecondary English teacher jobs on Monster.

Directors of religious activities and education (tie)

Percent reporting high levels of meaning at work: 96%
What you’d do: These directors manage religious education programs offered at churches or schools. They create and maintain curricula, staff, budgets, and education functions.
What you’d need: A bachelor's degree in religious education or a related field.
What you’d make: $38,980 per year

Find all religious director jobs on Monster.

Surgeons (tie)

Percent reporting high levels of meaning at work: 96%
What you’d do: When a person suffers from injury or disease to the extent that they need an operation, surgeons are the ones who do the job. From small procedures (such as a routine appendectomy) to complex undertakings (like a heart transplant), surgeons have the training to see the operation through from start to finish.
What you’d need: A bachelor's degree, followed by four years of graduate school for a degree in medicine (M.D.) or osteopathy (D.O.), and depending on your specialty, three to seven years in a residency program.
What you’d make: $208,000 per year

Find all surgeon jobs on Monster.

3. Elementary and secondary school administrators

Percent reporting high levels of meaning at work: 95%
What you’d do: Education administrators manage the direction and day-to-day tasks of schools. This includes everything from hiring teachers to balancing budgets to creating school rules and policies.
What you’d need: A master’s degree in education administration, plus related experience, are common.
What you’d make: $94,390 per year

Find all school administrator jobs on Monster.

4. Radiation therapists

Percent reporting high levels of meaning at work: 93%
What you’d do: Often part of a larger treatment team, a radiation therapist administers radiation treatments to cancer patients.
What you’d need: An associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy is required. In most states, radiation therapists must be licensed or certified.
What you’d make: $80,570 per year

Find all radiation therapist jobs on Monster.

5. Chiropractors (tie)

Percent reporting high levels of meaning at work: 92%
What you’d do: When back and neck pain interferes with your quality of life, you may visit a chiropractor for spinal adjustments and manipulation. Chiropractors treat patients with injuries to the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
What you’d need:  A Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree and a state license are required.
What you’d make: $68,640 per year

Find all chiropractor jobs on Monster.

Psychiatrists (tie)

Percent reporting high levels of meaning at work: 92%
What you’d do: These doctors diagnose the type and extent of mental illness in a patient, as well as formulate a treatment plan, which may include prescribing psychotropic medications. You might work in a private practice, hospital, or mental health clinic.
What you’d need: A bachelor's degree, followed by four years of graduate school for a degree in medicine (M.D.) or osteopathy (D.O.), followed by (typically) four more years in an psychiatric residency.
What you’d make: $208,000 per year

Find all psychiatrist jobs on Monster.

Anesthesiologists (tie)

Percent reporting high levels of meaning at work: 91%
What you’d do: Not a job for the easily stressed (or school-averse), anesthesiologists administer anesthetics before, during, and/or after a person has surgery or other medical procedures.
What you’d need:  A bachelor's degree, followed by four years of graduate school for a degree in medicine (M.D.) or osteopathy (D.O.), followed by four more years in an anesthesiology residency.
What you’d make: $208,000 per year

Find all anesthesiologist jobs on Monster.

Rehabilitation counselors (tie)

Percent reporting high levels of meaning at work: 91%
What you’d do: When people suffer physical or mental disabilities, they need help to get their lives back so they can live independently. That’s where a rehab counselor comes in. They work with clients to overcome the hurdles to effectively manage daily life.
What you’d need: A master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related field. Some positions may require certification or a license.
What you’d make: $34,860 per year

Find all rehabilitation counselor jobs on Monster.

Occupational therapists (tie)

Percent reporting high levels of meaning at work: 91%
What you’d do: OTs devise and administer treatment plans composed of everyday activities (think gripping a fork and buttoning a shirt) for injured and disabled patients. This helps the patients recover and maintain these skills needed for daily living and working.
What you’d need: A master’s degree in occupational therapy plus a license to practice.
What you’d make: $83,200 per year

Find all occupational therapist jobs on Monster.

Kindergarten teachers (tie)

Percent reporting high levels of meaning at work: 91%
What you’d do: Teach young minds the basic subjects (think reading, writing, and arithmetic) to give them a healthy start on their schooling.
What you’d need: A bachelor’s degree is the minimum, along with a state-issued certification or license.
What you’d make: $56,900 per year

Find all kindergarten teacher jobs on Monster.

6. Epidemiologists

Percent reporting high levels of meaning at work: 91%
What you’d do: As public health workers, epidemiologists investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury in humans in the hopes of reducing the risk to the general population. Their work consists largely of research, community education, and health policy.
What you’d need: A master’s degree in public health (MPH) or a related field. A doctoral degree in epidemiology or medicine is also common.
What you’d make: $69,660 per year

Find all epidemiologist jobs on Monster.

Need help finding meaningful work?

Finding a job is hard. Finding a job that gives you a sense of meaning and pays well is even harder. Without a doubt, you want to work for an employer with a conscience. Want to know which companies rise above the rest? We can help. Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you for reasons beyond a paycheck. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you'll get career advice, job tips, and industry insights—including top companies for diversity, working parents, and more. Your job should mean something and leave you feeling like you're making a difference.


Source: All salary data provided by online salary database PayScale.com. Salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time employees with five to eight years of experience. Earnings include bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable. They do not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits or the value of other noncash benefits (e.g., health insurance).