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Mellody Hobson talks about money and the economy on today’s “Money Mondays” segment.

Today, I want to talk about jobs. Specifically, what do you think is the highest paying, most meaningful job in the country?

Payscale.com is a website that allows people to see what they’re worth and what they should be paying employees. Payscale spent the past year surveying 40 million professionals with 100 common jobs, asking about their annual salary as well as the question, “Does your job make the world a better place?” Respondents could choose between: “Very much so,” “Yes,”  “A little,” “No,” and “My job makes the world a worse place.”

The idea was to identify the highest paying jobs that also make people feel good about what they do. Of course, we all know that some of the most important jobs that contribute to society aren’t necessarily the most financially rewarding: Teachers are a prime example; they’re not in it for the money. But what about those rare jobs where you’re well compensated AND the rewards are also philanthropic?

So who topped the list?
The three jobs that pay the most and score the highest “feel-good” scores are neurosurgeon, cardiothoracic surgeon and anesthesiologist.

Senior construction manager came in at #8, with a median pay of over $120,000 and the percentage of people who “feel the job is meaningful” a stunning 100%!

Hospital administrators, pharmacists, midwives, deputy fire chiefs and police lieutenants were all in the top 20.  If you are thinking about a career change, those are the “sweet spots” of the job market that offer financial rewards and the less tangible rewards of altruism.

Were there any surprises in there?
The top 25 included restaurant owner/operator and realtor. I guess feeding and housing people makes you feel good even if they’re the ones footing the bill.

And are the people who fall into that sweet spot happier overall?
It’s hard to measure happiness, but the average satisfaction for the top 25 jobs is 85%, which is high compared to the national average of 72%.

Who’s paid the best but the least satisfied?
Well, “Senior Counsel”—basically a lawyer—has a median pay of $177,000. But satisfaction is just 59%—well below the national average—and only 31% report the job as meaningful.

What about jobs that don’t pay so well but have a higher satisfaction score?
Some lower-paying jobs that are highly meaningful include: Sign language interpreter, soldier, worship coordinator, and social worker. It goes without saying that those workers are reaping rewards that go far beyond a paycheck.

How about the saddest of the sad—the lowest paying, least meaningful jobs?
I don’t want to ruin anyone’s day!

So if we want to be well paid and feel good, we should forget lawschool and get into the police academy?
I know lots of happy lawyers and have met my share of grouchy traffic cops, so take all of this with a grain of salt.

Mellody is President of Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based money management firm that serves individual investors and retirement plans through its no-load mutual funds and separate accounts.  Additionally, she is a regular financial contributor and analyst for CBS News.

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