16 Careers That Improve The World

  • By Vivian Giang

At some point in your career, you may have to choose between making money and making a difference in the world.In Payscale's report published Tuesday, workers who have "high-meaning" yet low-paying jobs are typically in the public sector.

"Society values these workers in terms of what they add, even if they don't value them in terms of what they get paid," Katie Bardaro, lead economist at Payscale, told us.

Many of these workers believe what they do for a living is meaningful because they're impacting and improving other people's lives through their work.

Job meaning should not, however, be confused with job satisfaction, said Bardaro.

"The first gets at the societal benefit of your work, while the latter is how much you are actually enjoying your job," she says. "One can easily be satisfied in their job - like the pay, the work, the company culture - but not feel as if what they do improves the world. Similarly, one could feel their work is hugely important in terms of making the world a better place, but they might not be super satisfied with their job."

Payscale acquired this information through compensation surveys that asked workers in the past year the question:"Does your work make the world a better place?"

Below are low-paying jobs that make people feel good about what they do:


Typical national median pay: $42,100

% report high job meaning: 100%


Typical national median pay: $40,200

% report high job meaning: 100%


Typical national median pay: $39,000

% report high job meaning: 100%


Typical national median pay: $38,000

% report high job meaning: 100%


Typical national median pay: $36,300

% report high job meaning: 100%


Typical national median pay: $35,600

% report high job meaning: 100%


Typical national median pay: $38,400

% report high job meaning: 95%


Typical national median pay: $37,500

% report high job meaning: 93%


Typical national median pay: $34,000

% report high job meaning: 92%


10. Soldier

Typical national median pay: $41,300

% report high job meaning: 91%


Typical national median pay: $41,200

% report high job meaning: 90%


Typical national median pay: $40,000

% report high job meaning: 89%


Typical national median pay: $35,200

% report high job meaning: 89%


Typical national median pay: $34,900

% report high job meaning: 89%


Typical national median pay: $41,400

% report high job meaning: 88%


Typical national median pay: $37,900

% report high job meaning: 88%

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