The Happiest and Healthiest Careers to Retire From – Part 1

Forbes loves to tell us who the happiest workers are, or what the healthiest careers are. But no one seems to talk about post-job satisfaction. While these types of articles are generally highly subjective, we can certainly look at professions that tend to produce happier retirees. Whether these can actually be ranked is another thing altogether.

The following list focuses on just 3 areas of health and satisfaction: smoking rates, self-reported job satisfaction, and obesity rates. Obviously, there are plenty of other areas that play a role in health and happiness, but these are generally good indicators as well.

Historically, nurses have always felt a sense of great pride in their career choice. And for the most part, society agrees. When someone says he is a nurse, you’ll generally hear accolades shortly to follow. Further, nurses work in healthcare; they are surrounded with daily reminders to take care of themselves. You would think it might be tough to light a cigarette after watching a cancer patient die. Oddly, however, nurses smoke. A lot of them smoke, in fact. Until recently, studies suggested that as much as 11% of nurses smoked daily.

Fortunately, as of 2011, that number was down to just 7%. So, given the upward trend in health among nurses, this profession is quickly becoming one of the healthiest. Likewise, retired nurses generally report a sense of great satisfaction throughout their careers, many of them even choosing to volunteer in related positions well into their later years.

This one should be no surprise. How can anyone be unhappy working just 9 months per year, right? Well, don’t say that near a teacher, but there is something to the logic. While it is difficult to gauge exactly how many teachers smoke, some studies suggest between 10 and 20%. However, this research is dated. Since 2007, organizations like Tobacco Free Kids and the American Heart Association have actively lobbied to prohibit smoking on all public school grounds. In fact, most campuses across the country have now gone “smoke free,” meaning teachers have nowhere to smoke short of leaving the campus. For many, this is enough to end the habit.

Likewise, teachers are on their feet for much of the day and have some of the most liberal leave policies of all American professions. Even in Europe, workers generally may have upwards of 40 paid days of vacation each year. This pales in comparison to a teacher’s 10-week summer, 2-week Christmas, and weeklong breaks for Thanksgiving and Spring Break. This does not even count the sick time and sabbaticals some are offered. So, while the pay may be sub-par in some ways, teachers are among some of the happiest and healthiest retirees. After all, how many professions have “retirement poems?”

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