Indiana's most satisfying occupations: Exploring Glassdoor data for insight

Sun Yoon
workers in manufacturing plant with large metal cylanders

With fast-changing work environments and a constantly evolving economy, we should take time to ask ourselves what brings us satisfaction.

Nowadays, consumers share their opinions of restaurants and services on social media such as Yelp, and workers can share their job satisfaction online too. Glassdoor is one such way for workers to share their reviews. Glassdoor provides an online ratings tool based on employees' satisfaction scores.

Job seekers can use those job satisfaction scores to make decisions on which companies they would most want to work for, which has become a critical facet of talent attraction during these times of a very tight labor market. 

So what does job satisfaction look like in Indiana?  In this article, we used a sample of Glassdoor's job satisfaction ratings for Indiana occupations to check out which jobs Hoosiers might be finding most “satisfactory.”

Objectively speaking, money and stability give a great view of a job’s success. However, as the popular Easterlin Paradox theory goes, an increase in standard of living does not directly correlate to happiness. Now, the Indiana Business Research Center (IBRC) has begun experimenting with subjective ratings—what Hoosiers truly think about their jobs—using Glassdoor survey data.

Accurately gauging how employees view and perceive their jobs is entirely subjective and difficult. Glassdoor, an anonymous firm survey website, allows any user to freely review their firm. Anonymity gives the platform a “non-biased” subjective score of a firm. There are many categories that Glassdoor uses to display an overall rating. A user is asked to rate the following categories on a scale of one to five: Overall Rating, Career Opportunities, Compensation & Benefits, Work/Life Balance, Senior Management, and Culture & Values (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Glassdoor survey questions

Screenshot asking: overall rating, are you a current or former employee, employment status, job title, pros, cons, advice to management, category ratings, CEO rating, recommend to a friend, 6 month business outlook

Source: Glassdoor website

After several data processing steps to bridge the gap between Glassdoor job titles and their appropriate 6-digit Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) codes, we found which occupations Hoosiers wrote about the most on Glassdoor in Indiana (see Table 1).

Table 1: Top contributors on Glassdoor

SOC code Occupation title Percentage
39-1021 First-line supervisors of personal service workers 5.5%
43-4051 Customer service representatives 4.6%
41-2031 Retail salespersons 4.4%
43-5081 Stock clerks and order fillers 3.6%
15-1199 Computer occupations, all other 3.4%
41-4011 Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, technical and scientific products 3.1%
41-2011 Cashiers 2.3%
29-1141 Registered nurses 2.0%
11-1021 General and operations managers 1.7%
11-1021 Managers, all other 1.6%

Source: IBRC, using Glassdoor data

Table 2 lists the occupations Hoosiers think are most satisfying.

Table 2: Most satisfying occupations (as rated by Hoosiers on Glassdoor)

SOC code Occupation title Average wage
11-1011 Chief executives $148,730
19-4061 Social science research assistants N/A
25-1191 Graduate teaching assistants $40,140
17-3011 Architectural and civil drafters $54,080
21-1012 Educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors $51,560
43-3051 Payroll and timekeeping clerks $40,720
41-9021 Real estate brokers $83,090
19-3051 Urban and regional planners $56,800
25-2022 Middle school teachers, except special and career/technical education $52,690
11-3131 Training and development managers $90,100

Source: IBRC, using Glassdoor data

The methodology we used has some caveats. One caveat is that while the Glassdoor platform is seen as non-biased, the self-reporting system itself may result in biased opinions. Because self-reporting is not distributed equally to all job employees, there are missing ratings on some SOC codes. The failure to observe all SOC code ratings will not give us an accurate conclusion and should be used with caution. Another caveat is the accuracy of the OccuCoder match to Glassdoor job titles. (OccuCoder is an automatic query that reads text files to fuzzy match with complete SOC codes descriptions.) Although this is an advanced tool to closely match any job title, misspellings or misleading job titles may lead to mismatches during the process. This could result in skewed or biased conclusions. Thirdly, Glassdoor ratings may have more to do with employer satisfaction than occupation satisfaction—an employee may have dissatisfaction or satisfaction toward his or her employer but not necessarily toward the occupation itself. One may be very satisfied in what he or she is doing despite dissatisfaction with an employer or company.

Despite the caveats, the attempt to bridge the gap between objective and subjective is worthwhile and should be further explored in job satisfaction studies. Many studies have found that high-paying jobs do not lead to more happiness, and that other subjective values in jobs bring an immeasurable sense of achievement and contentment in people's lives. With fast-changing work environments and a constantly evolving economy, we should take time to ask ourselves what brings us satisfaction.