20 of the Most Rewarding Careers

Updated June 21, 2023

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Two people sit in chairs across from each other, with a list between them entitled, "Most Rewarding Jobs" that contains these careers:

• Teacher
• Animal caretaker
• Care worker
• Charity fundraiser
• Firefighter
• Counselor

When contemplating a career path, it's important that you consider how fulfilling you'll find the work. Though what categorizes a job as rewarding is somewhat subjective, there are certain factors that most people consider when deciding whether a role is satisfying. In this article, we explain what exactly makes a career fulfilling and explore some of the most rewarding careers available.

Related: Guide: How To Choose a Career

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What makes a career rewarding?

What makes a career fulfilling can vary from person to person, but there are some basic requirements that most people look for in careers. Some of these factors include jobs that:

  • Match your skill set: Most people find a higher degree of job satisfaction when they're placed in a role where they feel confident and skilled. Even careers in a new industry can prove rewarding if they provide professional development opportunities.

  • Offer diverse responsibilities: A job's day-to-day tasks can have a huge impact on career satisfaction. Many people find jobs more engaging when their position has some degree of variety. Additionally, having some control over the tasks you do and when you do them can influence how you feel about your career.

  • Are at a company with a great reputation: Whether the company is a leader in its industry or simply known for treating employees well, working for a company that has an excellent reputation often leads to finding more fulfillment at work.

  • Provide opportunities for advancement: Knowing that you have opportunities to advance your career can play a role in how you view your job. This can include working toward a promotion or simply working for a company that supplies opportunities for professional development through workshops, training or seminars.

  • Have a company culture that aligns with your values: Whether you thrive in a more casual environment or you're seeking a structured atmosphere, finding a company that fits your needs will help you feel more engaged at work.

  • Allow you to care for others: Many people prefer jobs that enable them to guide, assist or serve people in some way. Helping others often creates feelings of positivity, which can sustain and energize individuals in the workplace.

  • Have minimal stress: Facing and overcoming challenges can make your career more rewarding, but only within reason. Companies that actively improve work processes and emphasize work-life balance often minimize employee stress.

  • Pay well: Your job feels more rewarding when you feel appreciated for your work. Though appreciation can come in many forms, one of the primary ways is through fair compensation for your time and efforts.

Related: How To Find the Best Jobs for You

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20 of the most fulfilling jobs

Here's a list of some of the most rewarding jobs based on the criteria above:

1. Teacher

National average salary: $23,281 per year

Primary duties: A teacher helps individuals build their skills, expand their knowledge and achieve their goals. Teachers instruct students at every age and level, giving them the ability to choose a specialty or age group that they're passionate about. The major specialties include kindergarten, elementary school, middle school and high school, along with school subjects like science, languages, math, history, art and music.

Related: Learn About Being a Teacher

2. Counselor

National average salary: $29,716 per year

Primary duties: Counselors are responsible for supplying their clients with guidance and therapy so that they can transform their lives and reach their goals. They work in a variety of settings, such as schools, rehabilitation centers and private practices.

Related: Learn About Being a Guidance Counselor

3. Athletic trainer

National average salary: $36,499 per year

Primary duties: Athletic trainers are highly qualified professionals that work alongside medical personnel, coaches and athletes so that they can assess players' conditions, establish fitness and health goals, design rehabilitation or training programs and develop nutrition and exercise protocols.

Related: Learn About Being an Athletic Trainer

4. Paramedic

National average salary: $38,194 per year

Primary duties: Paramedics are often the first to arrive on the scene when an emergency occurs. They must assess the needs of their patients quickly so that they can perform life-saving procedures. Aside from providing aid on site, they also transport their patients to appropriate medical facilities.

Related: Learn About Being a Paramedic

5. Firefighter

National average salary: $44,304 per year

Primary duties: Firefighters respond to alarms in their area so that they can put out fires and minimize potential damage. Though people commonly associate firefighters with incidents like house and building fires, firefighters respond to a wide range of emergency situations so that they can protect, rescue and revive citizens. Because of this, prospective firefighters must first earn an EMT certification and complete training at a fire academy.

Related: Learn About Being a Firefighter

6. Detective

National average salary: $46,220 per year

Primary duties: A detective in a police department is primarily responsible for investigating crimes and identifying persons of interest . Some of a detective's other duties include interviewing witnesses, gathering evidence and questioning suspects. Many police detectives choose specialties such as fraud or homicide in order to meet their division's needs.

Related: Learn About Being a Detective

7. Chaplain

National average salary: $47,135 per year

Primary duties: Chaplains perform meditation services, prayers and religious ceremonies in groups and one-on-one settings. Some of these ceremonies might include baptisms, funerals and weddings. They can find employment in religious institutions, healthcare settings and educational environments. Regardless of where they work, chaplains serve as spiritual guides for their specific belief system and aim to assist others during significant life moments or transitions.

8. Dietitian

National average salary: $47,922 per year

Primary duties: Dietitians help others by assessing their clients' nutritional needs, counseling them about healthy eating habits and creating nutrition plans that align with their clients' budgets and preferences. Dietitians work in a variety of settings, including local and state governments, cafeterias, clinics, nursing homes and hospitals.

Related: Learn About Being a Dietitian

9. Chiropractor

National average salary: $68,113 per year

Primary duties: Chiropractors assist patients experiencing neck, shoulder and back pain by performing spinal manipulation and adjustments. As a result of their holistic care and expertise, patients can often improve their mobility and quality of life.

Related: Learn About Being a Chiropractor

10. Human resources manager

National average salary: $70,259 per year

Primary duties: Human resources (HR) managers are responsible for overseeing an organization's overall wellbeing. They primarily do this by managing a company's recruiting, interviewing and hiring processes. They are also in charge of handling other workplace details such as e mployee benefits, i nternal conflicts, s alary adjustments and o verall morale.

Related: Learn About Being an HR Manager

11. Nurse

National average salary: $81,551 per year

Primary duties: Nurses care for patients by carrying out orders from their physicians, monitoring and recording their symptoms, and checking their vital signs. These healthcare professionals can work in nursing care facilities, home healthcare facilities, doctor's offices or hospitals.

Related: Learn About Being a Registered Nurse (RN)

12. Physical therapist

National average salary: $81,754 per year

Primary duties: Physical therapists provide direct patient care by helping their clients improve their movement after an illness or injury. They often specialize in working with a specific group of people, like the elderly, children or athletes. Depending on their specialty, these healthcare professionals work in nursing care facilities, hospitals or clinics.

Related: Learn About Being a Physical Therapist

13. Occupational therapist

National average salary: $82,332 per year

Primary duties: Occupational therapists develop and implement treatment plans for patients that have suffered from a trauma or illness that impacts their mobility. Through the use of daily activities and special equipment, occupational therapists help their patients develop, improve and regain the skills they need to accomplish their day-to-day tasks and responsibilities.

Related: Learn About Being an Occupational Therapist

14. Attorney

National average salary: $95,722 per year

Primary duties: Attorneys, also referred to as lawyers, provide their clients with advice, information about their legal rights and representation in civil and criminal cases. They accomplish this by preparing documents and making court appearances.

Related: Learn About Being an Attorney

15. Psychologist

National average salary: $105,032 per year

Primary duties: Psychologists help their clients by working to improve their behavioral and emotional health. Aside from diagnosing and treating patients, psychologists can take part in scientific research so that they might develop a greater understanding of behavior and brain function.

Related: Learn About Being a Psychologist

16. Chief executive

National average salary: $116,018 per year

Primary duties: Chief executives work in almost every industry, coordinating and directing the activities and objectives of an organization or company. This role comes with a lot of responsibility, and their attitude and actions influence the company as well as its employees.

Related: Learn About Being a CEO (Chief Executive Officer)

17. Dentist

National average salary: $238,245 per year

Primary duties: Dentists help patients by diagnosing and treating issues concerning their gums and teeth. They often relieve dental pain by performing various procedures, like root canals. These healthcare professionals can pursue a number of different specialties, including pediatric dentistry.

Related: Learn About Being a Dentist

18. Physician

National average salary: $244,487 per year

Primary duties: Physicians are primarily responsible for diagnosing and treating a wide range of illnesses and injuries in their patients. They work in doctor's offices, clinics or hospitals. Though they can practice general medicine, many physicians choose to pursue a specialty by focusing on treating a specific group of people or area of the body.

Related: Learn About Being a Physician

19. Surgeon

National average salary: $274,619 per year

Primary duties: Surgeons treat the injuries, diseases and deformities of their patients by performing surgical operations. Many in this profession specialize in a specific area of the body, surgery, procedure or illness.

Related: Learn About Being a Surgeon

20. Anesthesiologist

National average salary: $375,151 per year

Primary duties: Anesthesiologists supply and adjust anesthetics, which provide patients with the pain relief they need during and after surgery. During surgical procedures, anesthesiologists monitor the vital signs of their patients, ensuring they're receiving the medicine and care they need.

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