The 20 most meaningful jobs in America, ranked

98.9% of psychologists say they feel their job makes the world a better place.

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98.9% of psychologists say they feel their job makes the world a better place.
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John Phillips / Stringer / Getty Images

  • There are some jobs in which nearly every professional says they feel that they make the world a better place.
  • Most of these are in education and health, according to a Payscale survey.
  • GED teacher and education director topped the list.

If your goal in life is to make the world a better place, you should probably pursue a job in education or healthcare.

Three of the top 20 most feel-good jobs in America, according to a 2017 PayScale study, fell into one of those two categories.

To compile its latest list, PayScale asked more than 500,000 professionals whether they feel their work makes the world a better place, and ranked professions based on the percentage of people in each of those jobs who answered “yes.”

“Many people hope to find work that they find meaningful, but the secret is that you can find purpose in a variety of professions,” Lydia Frank, vice president of content strategy at PayScale, told Business Insider. “And, you don’t always have to sacrifice a good paycheck in order to have a positive impact on the world.”

Here are the top 20 jobs where people feel they’re making an impact. There were several ties, so our ranking starts at 15.

Jacquelyn Smith contributed to a previous version of this article.


15. Counselor

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John Moore/Getty Images

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 97.0%

Median salary: $40,500


14. Self-enrichment teacher (tie)

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wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 97.1%

Median salary: $31,800


14. Physical therapist assistant (tie)

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 97.1%

Median salary: $46,900


13. Physician assistant

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Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 97.1%

Median salary: $91,300


12. Postsecondary health teacher

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badruddin/Shutterstock

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 97.1%

Median salary: $70,700


11. Funeral director

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Phovoir/Shutterstock

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 97.3%

Median salary: $45,000


10. Dentist

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Shutterstock

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 97.5%

Median salary: $137,300


9. High school teacher (tie)

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 97.6%

Median salary: $46,100


9. Physician or surgeon (tie)

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lenetstan/Shutterstock

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 97.6%

Median salary: $205,700


8. Veterinarian (tie)

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Leon Neal/Getty Images

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 97.7%

Median salary: $71,500


8. Occupational therapist assistant (tie)

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BSIP/Getty Images

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 97.7%

Median salary: $53,000


7. Firefighter

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Justin Sullivan/Getty

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 97.9%

Median salary: $63,300


6. Health care practitioner (tie)

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Syda Productions/Shutterstock

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 98.0%

Median salary: $95,600


6. Therapist (tie)

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wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 98.0%

Median salary: $64,300


5. Residential advisor

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Blend Images/Shutterstock

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 98.3%

Median salary: $32,500


4. Optometrist

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David Bruce Jr./flickr

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 98.7%

Median salary: $103,400


3. Psychologist

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John Phillips / Stringer / Getty Images

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 98.9%

Median salary: $60,300


2. Clergy

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Thomson Reuters

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 99.8%

Median salary: $46,900


1. Education director (tie)

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 100%

Median salary: $36,900


1. GED teacher (tie)

Percent of professionals who feel their job makes the world better: 100%

Median salary: $41,300