Vicar or publican - which jobs make you happy?

Rev

Which would you be happier doing - serving pints or serving God? Helpful advice on how to make those difficult life choices is on hand.

The Cabinet Office has been looking at the relationship between different jobs and levels of life satisfaction, and publicans, it turns out, are in the unhappiest occupation of all. They are closely followed by brickies and debt collectors.

The happiest workers, the research suggests, are vicars and priests. Members of the clergy enjoy the most satisfying lives - but farmers and fitness instructors are pretty jolly too.

The government thinks people should have access to information on the relationship between the salary and the satisfaction associated with a career - part of the prime minister's commitment to find policies that boost the wellbeing of the nation.

What emerges is that, while there is a link between earnings and life-satisfaction, some quite well-paid jobs are populated by those with low levels of wellbeing - and vice versa. For example, despite an average salary of almost £39,000 a year, quantity surveyors work in the 41st most miserable occupation out of 274 different categories.

Queen Vic/ EastEnders The life of a publican can be complicated

The average farmer earns £24,500, but they are a particularly chipper lot with the eighth highest life satisfaction of any job. In fact, the outdoor life does seem to be associated with greater personal wellbeing - managers in agriculture and horticulture are the third happiest and farm workers are in the top 25 too.

The people whose jobs are associated with the lowest life satisfaction include telesales workers, bar staff, rent collectors and leisure assistants.

Top five jobs

  • Clergy
  • Chief executive/senior official
  • Agriculture/horticulture proprietor
  • Company secretary
  • Quality assurance

Bottom five jobs

  • Publican
  • Elementary construction
  • Debt/rent collector
  • Industrial cleaner
  • Floorers/wall tilers

See full table at bottom of page

The Cabinet Office is working on a web-based calculator that will allow those torn between two career paths to compare the average salaries and life-satisfaction associated with each.

Someone, for instance, considering working as a company secretary (average salary £18,200) or taking a bit more money to be an ambulance driver (£22,800) would learn that the people doing the former job report significantly higher levels of life satisfaction than those in the latter.

None of this means you can't be a joyful publican or a miserable vicar, of course. Nor does it mean that those jobs make people happy or sad. The data only offers evidence on the average life satisfaction of those doing different jobs. It might be that naturally gloomy people run pubs and unusually cheery types become quality regulators, for example.

But it does provide a clue to choosing the career path that is likely to be most fulfilling.

The official tables might be seen as one of the first tangible demonstrations of how government is trying to use policy to boost the happiness of the nation.

Farmer How could you not be happy?

Six months after arriving in Downing Street, David Cameron told the country how there was a need to "take practical steps to make sure government is properly focused on our quality of life as well as economic growth".

The prime minister wanted a "reappraisal of what matters" that would "lead to government policy that is more focused not just on the bottom line, but on all those things that make life worthwhile".

The Green Book (the bible for Whitehall policy wonks) was amended to include a section devoted to Valuing Non-Market Impacts, and among those was social wellbeing.

Officials were advised of the importance "in ensuring that the full range of impacts of proposed policies are considered". Happiness - or the lack of it - should be part of the equation.

But searching through the vast piles of Treasury documentation published around this week's budget, I cannot find any reference to "quality of life" or "wellbeing". Not one.

The words "happiness" and "wellbeing" did not appear anywhere in the chancellor's budget speech. George Osborne's "long-term plan" had no mention of joy or even life-satisfaction. It was focused on economic resilience, growth and jobs - with no calculation as to how fulfilling those jobs might be.

This could be seen as a bit of a miss, especially given the results of a survey published this week indicating that, when asked to choose the kind of society they would prefer to live in, 87% of UK adults pick "greatest overall happiness and well-being", rather than "greatest overall wealth" (8%).

Black cab driver But cabbies seem so chipper

Let us not be gloomy about happiness, though. Some government policy makers are already taking account of wellbeing in making decisions.

I am told that high-level deliberations on whether there should be a third runway at Heathrow have included discussion on the impact it would have on wellbeing.

Opponents emphasise the "high levels of stress and anxiety" for people living close to the airport. Heathrow Airport's consultation document warns that the jobs impact of not building the runway "would be devastating for the wellbeing of the local community".

The Cabinet Office has confirmed there is good evidence aircraft noise significantly and measurably increases anxiety around Heathrow, but ministers will be balancing this against the strong association between life satisfaction and employment.

Another policy idea being assessed according to its wellbeing implications is the proposal to shift the May Day bank holiday in England and Wales.

"What impact could moving the early May Bank Holiday have on health and well being?" the government consultation document asks. "In particular what impact could moving a bank holiday to the autumn have on the health and morale of workers?"

Quietly, the implications of the happiness agenda are feeding into government decision-making, even if politicians are reluctant to be explicit about it.

A report out on Thursday from the former head of the civil service, Sir Gus O'Donnell, commissioned by the Legatum Institute, explains the impact wellbeing research is already having on policy and argues for more of it in the future.

Window cleaners Happier times?

It confirms what the chancellor must know - that economic growth is indeed good for social wellbeing. But there are other areas of state activity that might be given greater priority if politicians want to improve the nation's happiness.

An emphasis on improving mental health is one, ensuring towns and cities include plenty of places where residents can meet and interact is another. There is evidence that an "active" welfare system encouraging people into work is better for wellbeing than a "passive" safety-net approach.

I wrote recently about the idea that schools might teach "resilience" and "character". This, it appears, would also have significant wellbeing advantages.

So, it is a shame that the hundreds of officials who constructed the budget this week could find no space for the words "happiness" or "wellbeing" or "life-satisfaction". But it may be that that reflects more on the language of the Treasury than the ambition of the government.

Gradually, we are becoming comfortable with the concepts of wellbeing and life satisfaction in our discussions about public policy. And that, I suppose, makes me happy.

(Rank) Occupation
Mean income (£s)
Satisfaction rating
(Rank) Occupation Mean income (£s) Satisfaction rating
(1) Clergy 20,568 8.291
(2) Chief executives and senior officials 117,700 7.957
(3) Managers and proprietors in agriculture and horticulture 31,721 7.946
(4) Company secretaries 18,176 7.93
(5) Quality assurance and regulatory professionals 42,898 7.891
(6) Health care practice managers 31,267 7.843
(7) Medical practitioners 70,648 7.836
(8) Farmers 24,520 7.808
(9) Hotel and accommodation managers and proprietors 32,470 7.795
(10) Skilled metal, electrical and electronic trades supervisors 35,316 7.795
(11) Senior professionals of educational establishments 49,495 7.789
(12) Physiotherapists 27,814 7.787
(13) Primary and nursery education teaching professionals 29,268 7.786
(14) Electrical engineers 44,439 7.739
(15) Fitness instructors 10,378 7.718
(16) Therapy professionals 28,524 7.714
(17) School secretaries 15,614 7.711
(18) Information technology and telecommunications directors 64,879 7.705
(19) Human resource managers and directors 54,120 7.702
(20) Financial institution managers and directors 73,911 7.701
(21) Dental nurses 15,024 7.699
(22) Musicians 21,492 7.696
(23) Farm workers 17,925 7.692
(24) Marketing and sales directors 84,377 7.688
(25) Functional managers and directors 53,574 7.687
(26) Production managers and directors in manufacturing 51,498 7.68
(27) Research and development managers 49,590 7.674
(28) Midwives 30,020 7.673
(29) Pharmacists 36,739 7.667
(29) Advertising accounts managers and creative directors 37,636 7.667
(31) Dental practitioners 53,567 7.663
(32) Sales accounts and business development managers 47,862 7.641
(33) Travel agents 18,344 7.64
(34) Secondary education teaching professionals 33,407 7.637
(35) Business, research and administrative professionals 36,012 7.636
(36) Education advisers and school inspectors 34,369 7.629
(37) Financial managers and directors 76,986 7.628
(38) Biological scientists and biochemists 37,627 7.621
(39) Natural and social science professionals 36,574 7.617
(40) Personal assistants and other secretaries 19,569 7.616
(41) Records clerks and assistants 19,146 7.615
(42) Authors, writers and translators 26,207 7.602
(43) Librarians 24,584 7.6
(44) Solicitors 44,787 7.599
(45) Chartered and certified accountants 37,850 7.597
(46) Customer service managers and supervisors 28,718 7.593
(47) IT specialist managers 48,384 7.59
(48) Leisure and sports managers 28,619 7.59
(49) Financial and accounting technicians 44,038 7.587
(50) Teaching assistants 11,796 7.587
(51) Childminders and related occupations 12,949 7.584
(52) Finance and investment analysts and advisers 46,797 7.579
(53) Business and financial project management professionals 50,038 7.575
(54) Fire service officers (watch manager and below) 28,183 7.574
(55) Civil engineers 38,236 7.574
(56) Purchasing managers and directors 51,806 7.572
(57) Health professionals 30,081 7.569
(58) Train and tram drivers 45,489 7.566
(59) Pharmaceutical technicians 20,815 7.564
(60) Air travel assistants 22,001 7.556
(61) Higher education teaching professionals 39,076 7.556
(62) Property, housing and estate managers 40,209 7.552
(63) Health services and public health managers and directors 49,015 7.549
(64) Actuaries, economists and statisticians 61,584 7.542
(65) Nurses 26,158 7.534
(66) Engineering professionals 41,421 7.532
(67) Bank and post office clerks 19,908 7.53
(68) Mechanical engineers 44,176 7.528
(69) Production managers and directors in construction 47,452 7.524
(70) Management consultants and business analysts 42,811 7.522
(71) Counsellors 19,220 7.51
(72) Sports coaches, instructors and officials 11,762 7.507
(73) Hairdressing and beauty salon managers and proprietors 25,011 7.506
(74) Police officers (sergeant and below) 39,346 7.501
(75) Garage managers and proprietors 38,112 7.493
(76) Managers and directors in transport and distribution 40,856 7.493
(77) Financial administrative occupations 18,323 7.49
(78) Playworkers 7,400 7.489
(79) Further education teaching professionals 28,043 7.488
(80) Social services managers and directors 39,961 7.487
(81) Managers and proprietors in other services 36,405 7.486
(82) IT project and programme managers 49,128 7.486
(83) Human resources and industrial relations officers 28,999 7.483
(84) Health associate professionals 21,569 7.481
(85) Design and development engineers 39,890 7.474
(86) Financial accounts managers 40,952 7.472
(87) Buyers and procurement officers 31,454 7.471
(88) Production and process engineers 38,475 7.47
(89) Taxation experts 45,360 7.469
(90) Nursery nurses and assistants 11,580 7.468
(91) Pharmacy and other dispensing assistants 11,920 7.458
(92) Welfare professionals 26,568 7.448
(93) IT business analysts, architects and systems designers 43,848 7.442
(94) Educational support assistants 11,569 7.442
(95) Construction project managers and related professionals 42,066 7.441
(96) Quality control and planning engineers 34,868 7.439
(97) Architects 44,024 7.433
(98) Public relations professionals 31,818 7.426
(99) Special needs education teaching professionals 28,894 7.424
(100) Medical radiographers 31,505 7.422
(101) Medical secretaries 17,314 7.421
(102) Credit controllers 19,724 7.421
(103) Groundsmen and greenkeepers 18,816 7.419
(104) Hairdressers and barbers 10,174 7.417
(105) Child and early years officers 21,634 7.417
(106) Teaching and other educational professionals 18,697 7.413
(107) Book-keepers, payroll managers and wages clerks 20,646 7.411
(108) Legal professionals 75,399 7.406
(109) Planning, process and production technicians 29,789 7.406
(110) Public services associate professionals 28,430 7.403
(111) Journalists, newspaper and periodical editors 35,117 7.402
(112) Environment professionals 33,220 7.402
(113) Aircraft maintenance and related trades 34,511 7.394
(114) Other administrative occupations 15,744 7.386
(115) Business and related associate professionals 30,171 7.381
(116) Receptionists 12,595 7.379
(117) Programmers and software development professionals 40,165 7.377
(118) Vocational and industrial trainers and instructors 26,490 7.376
(119) Psychologists 34,174 7.376
(120) IT operations technicians 29,815 7.376
(121) Scaffolders, stagers and riggers 30,591 7.375
(122) Legal associate professionals 29,492 7.367
(123) Pensions and insurance clerks and assistants 22,694 7.366
(124) Business and related research professionals 32,053 7.366
(125) Plant and machine operatives 24,278 7.366
(126) Office managers 28,790 7.366
(127) Sales supervisors 18,383 7.358
(128) Engineering technicians 32,528 7.357
(129) Draughtspersons 29,702 7.352
(130) Plumbers and heating and ventilating engineers 27,832 7.35
(131) Human resources administrative occupations 19,633 7.35
(131) Metal working production and maintenance fitters 29,173 7.35
(133) Conference and exhibition managers and organisers 24,696 7.35
(134) Electronics engineers 36,751 7.348
(135) Office supervisors 25,138 7.345
(136) Houseparents and residential wardens 17,420 7.34
(137) Medical and dental technicians 26,922 7.339
(138) Business sales executives 32,880 7.338
(139) Precision instrument makers and repairers 29,334 7.333
(140) Telecommunications engineers 32,253 7.329
(141) Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors 29,594 7.328
(142) Senior care workers 17,064 7.324
(143) Inspectors of standards and regulations 28,628 7.318
(144) Arts officers, producers and directors 35,825 7.315
(145) School midday and crossing patrol occupations 3,167 7.314
(146) Construction and building trades supervisors 33,036 7.313
(147) Information technology and telecommunications professionals 40,222 7.308
(148) Careers advisers and vocational guidance specialists 22,752 7.307
(149) Sales administrators 19,573 7.307
(150) Health and safety officers 33,445 7.3
(151) Sewing machinists 13,982 7.297
(152) Managers and directors in retail and wholesale 29,009 7.297
(153) Occupational therapists 27,353 7.294
(154) Estate agents and auctioneers 24,783 7.291
(155) Welfare and housing associate professionals 19,156 7.283
(156) Finance officers 22,090 7.278
(157) Assemblers (vehicles and metal goods) 29,845 7.277
(158) Routine inspectors and testers 24,787 7.277
(159) Beauticians and related occupations 12,418 7.271
(160) IT user support technicians 29,457 7.27
(161) Other elementary services occupations 10,750 7.269
(162) Paramedics 36,841 7.263
(163) Managers and directors in storage and warehousing 32,133 7.259
(164) Legal secretaries 17,951 7.253
(165) Transport and distribution clerks and assistants 23,583 7.25
(166) Typists and related keyboard occupations 16,421 7.248
(167) Marketing associate professionals 30,051 7.237
(168) Chartered surveyors 35,480 7.236
(169) Product, clothing and related designers 29,301 7.224
(170) Leisure and travel service occupations 15,568 7.222
(170) Housing officers 23,001 7.222
(172) Officers of non-governmental organisations 21,454 7.22
(173) Gardeners and landscape gardeners 17,595 7.22
(174) Estimators, valuers and assessors 32,185 7.22
(175) Social workers 28,182 7.217
(176) Postal workers, mail sorters, messengers and couriers 23,178 7.202
(177) Laboratory technicians 21,168 7.194
(178) Glaziers, window fabricators and fitters 20,525 7.193
(179) Electrical and electronic trades 30,696 7.193
(180) Stock control clerks and assistants 20,891 7.19
(181) Local government administrative occupations 20,351 7.189
(182) Electricians and electrical fitters 30,055 7.185
(183) Protective service associate professionals 35,510 7.183
(184) Graphic designers 25,330 7.178
(185) Chemical and related process operatives 25,307 7.177
(186) Elementary sales occupations 12,301 7.174
(187) National government administrative occupations 20,330 7.174
(188) Web design and development professionals 29,870 7.169
(189) Paper and wood machine operatives 20,557 7.157
(190) Housekeepers and related occupations 12,947 7.157
(191) Science, engineering and production technicians 26,710 7.151
(192) Artists 28,258 7.149
(193) Electrical and electronics technicians 28,893 7.13
(194) Quality assurance technicians 27,303 7.129
(195) Caretakers 16,114 7.126
(196) Library clerks and assistants 12,190 7.125
(197) Customer service occupations 16,525 7.123
(198) Nursing auxiliaries and assistants 15,618 7.121
(199) Chemical scientists 35,492 7.113
(200) Cooks 11,346 7.106
(201) Elementary administration occupations 11,896 7.105
(202) Sales related occupations 18,782 7.103
(203) Butchers 17,681 7.103
(204) Restaurant and catering establishment managers and proprietors 23,402 7.1
(204) Driving instructors 29,166 7.1
(206) Catering and bar managers 17,934 7.096
(207) Metal machining setters and setter-operators 27,223 7.095
(208) Vehicle technicians, mechanics and electricians 25,238 7.095
(209) Chefs 17,391 7.09
(210) Construction and building trades 26,682 7.08
(211) Metal working machine operatives 22,044 7.08
(212) Communication operators 26,715 7.078
(213) Animal care services occupations 14,980 7.073
(214) Prison service officers (below principal officer) 26,616 7.071
(215) Undertakers, mortuary and crematorium assistants 16,526 7.068
(216) Welding trades 26,735 7.063
(217) Photographers, audio-visual and broadcasting equipment operators 24,242 7.047
(218) Launderers, dry cleaners and pressers 11,041 7.046
(219) Cleaning and housekeeping managers and supervisors 14,562 7.042
(220) Merchandisers and window dressers 16,239 7.041
(221) Large goods vehicle drivers 25,602 7.039
(222) Packers, bottlers, canners and fillers 16,820 7.037
(223) Youth and community workers 20,240 7.017
(224) Furniture makers and other craft woodworkers 20,182 7.012
(225) Bricklayers and masons 22,476 7.006
(226) Market research interviewers 7,122 7
(226) Other skilled trades 23,431 7
(228) Carpenters and joiners 24,029 6.991
(229) Food, drink and tobacco process operatives 18,133 6.986
(230) Kitchen and catering assistants 8,865 6.985
(231) Sales and retail assistants 10,097 6.982
(232) Roundspersons and van salespersons 21,375 6.982
(233) Other drivers and transport operatives 24,420 6.979
(234) Quantity surveyors 38,855 6.971
(235) Retail cashiers and check-out operators 9,509 6.968
(236) Cleaners and domestics 8,067 6.961
(237) Shelf fillers 11,174 6.959
(238) Assemblers and routine operatives 20,161 6.958
(239) Elementary process plant occupations 19,409 6.94
(240) Painters and decorators 22,700 6.936
(241) Printers 26,833 6.921
(242) Vehicle and parts salespersons and advisers 21,403 6.907
(243) IT engineers 27,064 6.904
(244) Waiters and waitresses 7,651 6.893
(245) Metal making and treating process operatives 24,941 6.881
(246) Plasterers 21,155 6.88
(247) Bakers and flour confectioners 16,948 6.873
(248) Mobile machine drivers and operatives 25,472 6.86
(249) Assemblers (electrical and electronic products) 19,590 6.846
(250) Refuse and salvage occupations 19,454 6.844
(251) Care workers and home carers 12,804 6.844
(252) Bus and coach drivers 23,095 6.841
(253) Roofers, roof tilers and slaters 21,921 6.837
(254) Taxi and cab drivers and chauffeurs 16,416 6.834
(255) Van drivers 18,744 6.817
(256) Elementary storage occupations 18,430 6.812
(257) Fork-lift truck drivers 21,444 6.797
(258) Parking and civil enforcement occupations 18,065 6.795
(259) Call and contact centre occupations 15,339 6.78
(260) Window cleaners 12,561 6.747
(261) Construction operatives 21,057 6.746
(262) Fishing and other elementary agriculture occupations 15,679 6.742
(263) Security guards and related occupations 20,841 6.733
(264) Ambulance staff (excluding paramedics) 22,854 6.723
(265) Plastics process operatives 21,066 6.722
(266) Bar staff 7,317 6.686
(267) Care escorts 7,343 6.614
(268) Sports and leisure assistants 11,651 6.607
(269) Telephone salespersons 17,362 6.605
(270) Floorers and wall tilers 23,547 6.571
(271) Industrial cleaning process occupations 15,241 6.563
(272) Debt, rent and other cash collectors 17,371 6.561
(273) Elementary construction occupations 20,910 6.389
(274) Publicans and managers of licensed premises 25,222 6.38

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We were contacted by a man who, having been a pub landlord for 22 years, is now a curate. Watch his story to see if he is happier now.

Mark Easton Article written by Mark Easton Mark Easton Home editor

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