Salaries and Meaningful Employment

In a post yesterday, I shared a list from PayScale of the 20 job categories for college graduates with the least variation between average starting salaries and average salaries at mid-career. What follows is another list derived from the PayScale data, of the 20 job categories for college graduates for which the highest percentage of those in the fields reported finding their work to be “meaningful.”

I have highlighted in blue the categories that appear in both lists.

I suppose that one could argue that at least some percentage of those in relatively low-paying jobs might over-compensate by perceiving their work to be more meaningful than it actually is.

Nonetheless, what is very striking to me is that this list includes relatively few STEM or STEM-related job categories that are not also in the previous list. There is only one engineering field in this list—mining engineering—which is surprising since I would think that other engineering fields would be challenging and perceived as very meaningful by most of those employed in them.

That there are no business-related job categories, outside of medicine-related positions, is encouraging to me and yet surprising. One hears many people talk about business in very moral terms—as if making money is something akin to a vocation. According to this mindset, one’s personal prosperity is simply a reflection of how much one is contributing to the general prosperity. But perhaps those talking points don’t really resonate on a deep level with even many of those who repeat them most habitually.

  1. Early-Childhood Education

Most common jobs: Daycare teacher, preschool teacher (excluding special education), elementary-school teacher

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 77%

Starting median pay: $30,300

Mid-career median pay: $38,000

  1. Health Administration

Most common jobs: Administrative assistant, practice manager, office manager

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 77%

Starting median pay: $34,600

Mid-career median pay: $56,100

  1. Human Services

Most common jobs: Medical case manager, social worker, administrative assistant

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 78%

Starting median pay: $34,100

Mid-career median pay: $43,400

  1. Health

Most common jobs: Registered nurse, administrative assistant, office manager

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 78%

Starting median pay: $38,200

Mid-career median pay: $67,400

  1. Safety Management

Most common jobs: Safety manager, environmental health and safety manager, safety director

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 79%

Starting median pay: $52,600

Mid-career median pay: $80,800

  1. Mining Engineering

Most common jobs: Mining engineer, mine engineer, civil engineer

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 79%

Starting median pay: $71,500

Mid-career median pay: $109,000

  1. Radiologic Technology

Most common jobs: Radiology technologist, magnetic-resonance-imaging technologist, computer-tomography technologist

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 79%

Starting median pay: $46,600

Mid-career median pay: $63,800

  1. Respiratory Therapy

Most common jobs: Respiratory therapist, respiratory-therapy manager, respiratory director

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 80%

Starting median pay: $46,400

Mid-career median pay: $62,300

  1. Therapeutic Recreation

Most common jobs: Recreation therapist, activities director, therapeutic-recreation director

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 80%

Starting median pay: $33,800

Mid-career median pay: $48,000

  1. Athletic Training

Most common jobs: Athletic trainer, physical-therapy assistant, assistant athletic trainer

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 80%

Starting median pay: $35,900

Mid-career median pay: $48,300

  1. Counseling

Most common jobs: Addiction counselor, office manager, social worker

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 81%

Starting median pay: $32,300

Mid-career median pay: $40,900

  1. Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Most common jobs: Ultrasound technologist, echocardiographer, vascular technologist

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 81%

Starting median pay: $57,700

Mid-career median pay: $70,800

  1. Early-Childhood and Elementary Education

Most common jobs: Elementary-school teacher, preschool teacher (excluding special education), daycare teacher

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 81%

Starting median pay: $32,900

Mid-career median pay: $42,300

  1. Dental Hygiene

Most common jobs: Dental hygienist, dental-office manager, dental-hygiene instructor

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 82%

Starting median pay: $65,800

Mid-career median pay: $72,800

  1. Nursing

Most common jobs: Registered nurse, registered emergency-room nurse, registered operating-room nurse

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 83%

Starting median pay: $56,600

Mid-career median pay: $73,600

  1. Respiratory Care

Most common jobs: Respiratory therapist, respiratory-services supervisor, registered polysomnographic technologist

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 84%

Starting median pay: $47,800

Mid-career median pay: $64,000

  1. Clinical Laboratory Science

Most common jobs: Laboratory technologist, clinical laboratory scientist, laboratory supervisor

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 84%

Starting median pay: $47,400

Mid-career median pay: $60,100

  1. Community Health Education

Most common jobs: Patient-health educator, wellness coordinator, nonprofit-program coordinator

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 84%

Starting median pay: $35,900

Mid-career median pay: $56,500

  1. Pastoral Ministry

Most common jobs: Pastor, associate pastor, senior pastor

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 91%

Starting median pay: $34,500

Mid-career median pay: $49,600

  1. Medical Laboratory Science

Most common jobs: Laboratory technologist, clinical laboratory scientist, laboratory supervisor

Percentage who find their job meaningful: 97%

Starting median pay: $46,200

Mid-career median pay: $61,500

2 thoughts on “Salaries and Meaningful Employment

  1. “There is only one engineering field in this list—mining engineering—…”

    That’s interesting, and surprising to me too. I have noticed that Schools of Mines (even if now expanded and called something else) tend to have a notable esprit de corps. And….

    “He’s a ramblin’ wreck from Golden Tech* and a heck of an engineer.
    A shootin’, fightin’, dynamitin’ mining engineer……”
    ________
    *Colorado School of Mines, at Golden, Colorado. Their fight song apparently antedates the more famous Georgia Tech version by a decade or so.

Your comments are welcome. They must be relevant to the topic at hand and must not contain advertisements, degrade others, or violate laws or considerations of privacy. We encourage the use of your real name, but do not prohibit pseudonyms as long as you don’t impersonate a real person.