PayScale produced an interactive chart in order to visualize job pay, meaning, and satisfaction. There are some interesting findings here.
There is little correlation between pay and meaning. Aside from healthcare careers, which are outliers, there is a flat trend. Those in the healthcare industry tend to score off the charts in both salary and meaning.
Surgeons, with the highest median salary of $299,600, are doing well, with 94% reporting high job meaning and 82% reporting job satisfaction; anesthesiologists are close to surgeons in all metrics. Eight medical careers post median salaries of at least $130,000, whereas no other profession does so. Furthermore, only one medical job, internists, have a job meaning less than 80% (they report a meaning of 79%). OB/GYN doctors are unusual in that they have high meaning and high salary, but low job satisfaction.
On the other end, fast food cooks tend to have it the worst. They have both the lowest median salary, at $17,300, and the lowest percentage finding meaning in their work, at 22%.
Chief Executives, which includes CEOs, CFOs, and Executive Directors of businesses, have the highest non-healthcare salaries, with a median of $124,600. They also have a 79% job meaning, a 89% job satisfaction, and a 81% high stress level.
Community and social service professions report high satisfaction even though their median pay is average. Specifically, 97% of both clergy members and religious directors think their work is meaningful, while their median salaries are $45,400 and $35,900, respectively. They also report 89% and 88% job satisfaction, with low stress. Educators are also likely to report job meaning, with salaries more or less average.
Under individual job categories some correlations appear. For instance, in the business world there seems to be a negative correlation between salary and meaning; those who are most satisfied, loan counselors, are also the worst paid. Only 37% of tax examiners and analysts believe their jobs are meaningful, though they are paid well. In contrast, architects and engineers have a positive correlation between pay and meaning; the same trend holds for chefs and cooks. It is difficult to find a trend in most other categories, though.
Of course, it should not be surprising that those who report high salary, meaning, and satisfaction are in competitive fields that require extensive education and training, whereas those who report low levels on all metrics are not. Most are somewhere in the middle, or have a mix of good and bad.