Everyone wants to be happy and fulfilled in their career. And, while the working world doesn’t make finding your dream job easy, some jobs seem to elicit a higher percentage of happiness in workers. In a recent article, The Washington Post compiled a list of the most meaningful, least stressful jobs based on careful analysis of thousands of time journals from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey.
These are the jobs in which people are happiest – and it turns out, there’s a good match for every personality type.
Who are the happiest workers in America?
Per The Washington Post, the happiest workers are those who work in agriculture, logging and forestry. These outdoor jobs took the top spot, scoring 4.4 on a 0 (low) to 6 (high) “happiness” scale, 5.2 on the “meaning” scale and just 1.9 on the “stress” scale. So the next time you see a lumberjack or a park ranger, you might want to stop and glean a bit of their contented energy.
The second highest field in these categories was real estate, rentals and listings, followed by construction in third.
Other high-scoring jobs included the following fields, ranked in order from fourth place to 18th:
- Management, administrative and waste
- Health and social assistance
- Arts, entertainment and recreation
- Transportation and warehousing
- Educational services
- Repair, laundry and membership
- Nondurable-goods manufacturing
- Public administration
- Durable goods manufacturing
- Hotels, restaurants and bars
- Professional, scientific and technical
- Finance and insurance
What is the common denominator for some of these fields?
Some of the happiest, most meaningful jobs have something in common — they occur outdoors. Agriculture, logging and forestry, as well as construction, take place outside. In the Washington Post analysis, which also included the happiest activities and locations, the second-best activity for happiness and meaning was sports, exercise and recreation. This ranked just below religious and spiritual activities.
Similarly, the happiest location from these findings was people's place of worship, with the outdoors coming in second place.
So it's easy to conclude that being outdoors in nature may make some people less stressed. But not every person would describe themselves as “outdoorsy.” How does all this research align with personality type theory? Let's find out.
How does your personality type affect the career you pick?
Your personality type is an invaluable tool to help determine which sort of career is the best fit for you. While you can personality-proof any career, taking your personality into account when looking for a new job or adapting to your existing career can make a big difference.
When looking at these happiest jobs, let's stop to think about personality traits. In the 16-type system, your preferences make up who you are — how you gain energy, collect (and then analyze) information, make decisions and organize your life.
So, for example, an Introvert who prefers quieter work settings might find agriculture more appealing than an Extravert who finds solitude a bit discomforting. This Extravert, however, may find the world of construction or real estate more appealing, with their preference for working on teams.
So while these jobs ranked the happiest and most meaningful across the board, what sort of job brings you fulfillment depends on your personality type and how you embrace (or don't embrace) the work.
Which personality types align with the happiest jobs?
Below are some of the jobs that ranked highest on the happiness, meaning and low-stress scales with at least a score of 4 in happiness and meaning and a stress score below 2.5.
Farmers, lumberjacks, forest rangers
These types all appreciate the predictability (and sometimes unpredictability) of the great outdoors. Their introverted nature means they prefer some hefty alone time, while their Sensing preference makes them perfect for the practical nature of their profession.
Real estate agents, brokers, appraisers
Real estate agents and brokers aren’t afraid of a sales pitch and have the necessary skills to help their clients find the perfect home. Whether they’re managing clients or managing a team of agents, these personality types have Extraversion to keep them from burning out from social situations and a pragmatic outlook on information, thanks to their Sensing preference.
Construction workers and managers
To work in construction, you need a hands-on approach to work and life. While Extraversion might be a plus in construction when dealing with a team, it isn’t unusual to find introverted types in the construction field, too. The combination of Sensing and Thinking makes these types ready to tackle problems with logical analysis, while Perceiving is a handy preference to have in construction since schedules aren’t always regular and jobs come and go.
Management, administration and waste
The combination of Thinking and Judging preferences make the ENTJ and the ISTJ personality types ready to enforce order. These types make fantastic leaders and organizers by nature, and they relish the chance to create a workforce that runs like a well-oiled machine.
Data analysts, records managers, information research scientists
What do an INTJ, INTP and ENTP have in common? Their Thinking preference, when coupled with their iNtuitive preference, makes them wonderful at analyzing data on all accounts. These types can easily spot patterns in data others might miss, and their Thinking preference means they make decisions logically based on the information they’ve analyzed.
Social workers, social assistance, healthcare
It’s no surprise that healthcare and social assistance jobs require a certain kind of person. The combination of iNtuitive and Feeling preferences is frequently found in people who thrive as social workers, healthcare assistants and counselors, which makes the INFP, INFJ and ENFJ all great candidates for feeling fulfilled in their work. These types enjoy caring for others and make decisions based on their emotions, as well as their careful analysis of the world around them.
Actors, artists, dancers, art directors
Many personality types are interested in the arts and can excel at these careers if they put their mind to it. However, these personality types will have some innate skills that lend well to the arts and entertainment field, including an ability to pick up on the subtext of art and connect with the abstract ideas interlayered in scripts, artwork or photography. An ability to connect with emotions can help, too. It’s worth noting that although Extraversion is a helpful tool in entertainment careers, many Introverts also work in this sector and thrive (despite the social requirements).
Transportation and warehousing
Careers in various forms of transportation and warehousing require a dutiful work ethic and a personal responsibility to get the job done on your own. The combination of ISJ preferences aligns well with jobs in these fields. Because they’re often working independently or on a small team, Introverted types do well with this quiet, steady work, and the Sensing and Judging preferences mean they prefer to look at the facts and logic when analyzing information. Plus, these types are incredibly organized and like a set schedule.
Conclusion: A job well done
These statistically happiest jobs represent much of the blue-collar workforce, as well as a few creative careers. According to the research, it seems that there’s a higher level of stress and dissatisfaction in white-collar roles such as finance and insurance. If you’re curious, lawyers appear to have the most stressful position of all.
Whether you have one of these careers and feel content or you don’t have the ideal job yet, here’s how to find your dream job using personality-based exercises. If changing jobs is not an option right now, you can also learn to change your mindset, not your job, to find meaning in any career. So, while you may not be a happy forester or a chipper real estate agent, you can find purpose in anything if you put your mind to it.