Eight High-Paying Jobs Where You Can Make a Difference

Eight High-Paying Jobs Where You Can Make a Difference

By Bridget Quigg,

Can you imagine waking up each working day knowing that you’re about to do some good in the world? Firefighters, social workers  and teachers may have this experience, but those professions are not known for their high wages. So which jobs offer that magical combination of a high sense of meaning and a high salary?

Truth be told, they’re tough to find, according to Katie Bardaro, lead analyst at online salary database “Generally, the jobs with the highest meaning offer low pay,” she says. “People who want to make the world a better place are not driven by money. They’re driven by a desire to help people.”

When PayScale asked workers whether their jobs make the world a better place, 80 percent or more of those with jobs on the following list responded “yes” or “very much so.” Each job pays more than $52,000 per year and requires no more than a master's degree. Not surprisingly, many of the jobs are in the healthcare and nonprofit sectors.

Note: If you want the highest-paying, most meaningful job around -- neurosurgeon -- you’ll need a medical degree and extensive training, Bardaro says. Ninety-four percent of neurosurgeons say they derive a high sense of meaning through their work. Median annual pay is $358,000.

1. Nonprofit Executive Director
Percent Reporting High Levels of Meaning at Work: 94 Percent
Median Annual Pay: $55,200

It’s no surprise that leading a team with a mission to improve the world can make your work feel meaningful. The challenges are significant, such as keeping the organization alive with only donations and grants, but the rewards are also great. Both a bachelor’s degree and an MBA are common for these executives.

Find nonprofit executive director jobs.

2. Registered Occupational Therapist
Percent Reporting High Levels of Meaning at Work: 92 Percent
Median Annual Pay: $69,800

Occupational therapists help people with physical limitations figure out ways to work and care for themselves. Whether it’s teaching patients who’ve suffered head injuries how to type again or tighten the lid on a jar, occupational therapists provide practical guidance and encouragement. A master’s degree and passing a licensing exam are required.

Find occupational therapist jobs.

3. Director of Development
Percent Reporting High Levels of Meaning at Work: 90 Percent
Median Annual Pay: $59,000

Charisma, leadership and a knack for persuasion are all required for this demanding role. Responsible for bringing in the funds needed to keep a nonprofit growing, this person must have management experience and analytical capabilities. A bachelor’s degree is typically required, and further education in an area specific to the organization’s mission can help.

Find development director jobs.

4. Foundation Program Officer
Percent Reporting High Levels of Meaning at Work: 87 Percent
Median Annual Pay: $58,800

Here’s a job for people who are experts in a certain area and have good decision-making skills. They review proposals on behalf of a foundation and decide who gets the foundation’s money to fund a project, such as medical research or creating an arts program. A bachelor’s degree is the basic educational requirement.

Find program office jobs.

5. Clinical Laboratory Scientist
Percent Reporting High Levels of Meaning at Work: 86 Percent
Median Annual Pay: $76,100

Clinical laboratory scientists determine whether abnormal cells are cancerous. They figure out the type of bacteria causing an infection. The job requires at least a bachelor’s degree, as well as licensing and training to stay current with the latest medical advancements. Pursuing a specialty may require graduate work.

Find clinical laboratory jobs.

6. Grants Manager
Percent Reporting High Levels of Meaning at Work: 86 Percent
Median Annual Pay: $52,800

To keep providing the programs they do, social-services organizations, nonprofits and schools often apply for grants. Grants managers determine, among all the grants available, which ones best suit the organization’s mission. They then lead the development of grant proposals and follow up to ensure that the organization is complying with the grant requirements. This job requires at least a bachelor’s degree.

Find grants manager jobs.

7. Registered Nurse
Percent Reporting High Levels of Meaning at Work: 82 Percent
Median Annual Pay: $57,500

Being with people during their times of physical suffering and recovery makes for very meaningful work. Registered nurses administer medicines, educate patients about their treatment plans, and provide emotional support to patients and their families. Registered nurses can start with an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree or a diploma from an approved nursing program. State licensure is also required.

Find registered nurse jobs.

8. Intelligence Analyst
Percent Reporting High Levels of Meaning at Work: 80 Percent
Median Annual Pay: $72,800

Holding one of the more surprising jobs on this list, intelligence analysts feel certain that they help the world. How? “They often work for the federal government or military, and they make the world a better place by making it safer,” Bardaro says. So, while they may not feed the homeless or save endangered species, they protect average citizens from harm. A bachelor’s degree is required for this job. Foreign-language skills are often a plus.

Find intelligence analyst jobs.

Source: All salary data provided by online salary database Salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time employees with five to eight years of experience. Earnings include bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable. They do not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits or the value of other noncash benefits (e.g., health insurance).

Latest Jobs

Joseph Sarkissian DDS Inc.
Posted: 05/26/2015
Glendale, CA, 91206
United Rentals Inc
Posted: 05/26/2015
Rochester, MN, 55906
United Rentals Inc
Posted: 05/26/2015
Rochester, MN, 55906
Encore Software Services
Posted: 05/26/2015
Chicago, IL, 60601
ATR International
Posted: 05/26/2015
Oakland, CA

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-316