You Need to Know These Secrets to a Rewarding Career
Ideas for rewarding careers
Looking for a rewarding career? Try one of these:
- Childcare: Working closely with kids, ensuring their safety at all times while helping to shape their emotional, social, physical and intellectual development.
- Aged care: Aged care involves working closely with the elderly, helping them with their basic human needs and actively improving their standard of living.
- Training: Teaching your expertise to other people so they have the skills and abilities they need to succeed in the workplace.
- Disability work: Helping those living with a disability to enjoy the high standard of life we so often take for granted.
- Home and community care: Going out into the community to help the elderly and disabled with their basic daily needs, enabling them to live independently in their own homes.
- Work health and safety: Identifying and minimising threats to yourself and your co-workers so that everyone goes home safely at the end of the day.
- TESOL: Teaching English to people in Australia and overseas enables people to communicate with others in their community and opens up many opportunities for those people to find work locally or abroad.
Happiness and satisfaction at work
Australia has the distinction of being the ‘happiest’ developed nation in 2013, for the third year running. We have good air, a good economy, employment is high and life expectancy is long. When things are going this well, we start to look beyond our immediate need for employment and look for a career that is rewarding and satisfying.
Work and careers are major components of our life satisfaction – after all, you might spend 40 hours a week, or more, on the job. We often spend more time at work than we do pursuing our own interests, or enjoying time with family and friends! If you’re unhappy with your job or career, that unhappiness can seep into and poison all parts of your life. Choosing a career that is rewarding to you is therefore a major life decision.
So how can you find a rewarding career?
What defines a rewarding career?
Your definition of ‘success’ is probably different to most of the people you know. Some people crave a huge bank account and don’t care how they get it; many put their family first and shape a career around them; public recognition and fame might be essential to others.
We might think these things – fame, fortune, a bigger office, a faster car, easy work – will bring us happiness, but that often isn’t the case. In fact, a study from the University of Chicago study from 2008 found that the most satisfying jobs in the United States were relatively low paying, were often stressful and had long hours.
Their 10 most rewarding careers were:
- Fire fighters
- Travel agents
- Mechanics and repairmen
- Special education teachers
- Actors and directors
- Scientific researchers
- Industrial engineers
- Airline pilots and navigators
What is the secret of these careers? It can’t be money; the top rated jobs are also among the lowest paid on the list.
One thing most of them do have in common is that they’re service roles, not professional. Careers like fire fighting, clergy, and special education give you the opportunity to regularly interact with the public and directly see the results of your good work.
This is especially important in a world where face-to-face communication is increasingly replaced by digital interaction. Many jobs now leave us feeling lonely, stressed and isolated because we’re missing out on regular human contact.
Working with your hands
Our society has developed a widespread belief that university education is important to become successful and happy. On the other hand, learning specific, manual & technical skills (aka trades!) offer more real value to society than many degrees. Building and repairing homes, offices and equipment provides tangible benefits to society. After all, a house can last hundreds of years in the right circumstances, and be a home for generations of Australians. Physical, hands-on work like technical professions or fire fighting also provides the satisfaction of working with our hands and bodies.
Fortunately, there seems to be recognition of the value of trades in Australia. Vocational & technical skills are increasingly valued and respected, and often compensated very well at work too!
No matter how much we like a career, we still need to pay the bills each week. Long term security is important in any job we rely on to provide for ourselves and our families. That also extends to our careers – training and pursuing a career in an industry that is waning and suffers layoffs and redundancies every year creates ongoing, long term stress that is harmful to our health.
What makes for ‘good’ working conditions is completely subjective. This is one of those times when knowing what you enjoy (or can tolerate) becomes so essential in your career choice. You might love rugby and worship rugby players, but could never cope with the physical demands and inherent violence needed to play the game. For other people, sitting at a desk all day is one step removed from death.
Opportunity for advancement
Most people don’t like getting stuck in a dead end career. When you learn skills and become proficient in your job, you’re looking for the next challenge to conquer. More training, more responsibilities, and yes, better pay so you can maintain a more comfortable lifestyle.
Even if you love the work, it’s hard to be happy when you hate the people you work with every day. You have probably experienced, or heard of, a ‘toxic’ work environment. They’re marked by anger and frustration, bullying, scapegoating, dysfunctional relationships and meetings, obvious hypocrisy, restrictive systems and incompetent or powerless HR officers.
Professions can also be ‘toxic’ too. The police forces of NSW and Victoria were shaken in the 80s and 90s by allegations of systematic and entrenched corruption – tarring even good officers with the same brush. Many would argue that politics, by definition, is a ‘toxic’ career!
Finding your career
You might have already found a career that makes you happy (if so, congratulations), or you might still be looking. Your ‘rewarding’ career doesn’t have to have anything in common with the factors we’ve listed. They’re simply good indications that a career can be rewarding.
Your needs might be vastly different – after all, people DO want to go into politics! Obviously the rewards of that career, such as the power to affect changes to society, outweigh the negatives. To an unemployed person, simply going to work, being able to pay the bills and having money left over to enjoy life might be reward enough.
The true recipe for happiness is whatever leaves you feeling proud and fulfilled at the end of the day, wherever you find that satisfaction.
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