9 Reasons It’s OK to Take a Job with Less Pay to be Happy

“Should you take a job with less pay?”

Money shouldn’t be your only reason when deciding on your career, and taking a job solely based on the pay might not be a good idea.

Accepting a job based on impulse because of a higher pay, and rejecting another because of lower pay can be unwise and cost you your happiness.

Your potential employer can sense if you are passionate about your role, and if you are not, you won’t get far in your career.

“During a interview, if the candidate is only concern about the pay. It can have negative long-term implication to the team. This will be a big red flag during hiring.” Says A.C.

Why you should not work just for money?

When you work just for money, or to determine if you are going accept job based on pay alone, no matter how much you earn, it will never be enough.

Even if you get a high paying job, you will still feel underpaid and dissatisfy with your job, which makes you unfulfilled and unhappy.

A job seeker should be motivated by the opportunities and passion they have in the job, as money can loss it’s attractiveness rather quickly.

More Money does NOT equal to More Happiness!

Happiest Jobs in the world

According to studies, here are the 30 happiest jobs ranging from lower paying jobs earning less than $50,000 per year to upwards of more than $100,000 per year.

Happiest Jobs in the World
No. Job Title Median Salary Education Requirement
1 Teaching assistant $26,243 Postsecondary certificates
2 Ultrasonography $33,393 Postsecondary certificates
3 Sound engineering technician $35,401 Postsecondary certificates
4 Early childhood education teacher $35,963 Associate degree
5 Esthetician $36,707 Associate degree
6 Event planner $40,666 Postsecondary certificates
7 Contractor $45,957 None
8 Heavy equipment operator $47,580 None
9 Recruiter $48,925 Associate degree
10 Property manager $51,229 Associate degree
11 Plumber $51,776 None
12 Carpenter $53,862 None
13 Interior designer $57,369 Postsecondary certificates
14 Marketing consultant $59,493 Associate degree
15 Facilities manager $62,769 Associate degree
16 Executive chef $63,325 Postsecondary certificates
17 HR manager $69,221 Associate degree
18 Aircraft mechanic $69,472 Postsecondary certificates
19 Surgical technologist $69,725 Associate degree
20 Physical therapist assistant $70,904 Associate degree
21 IT consultant $75,883 Associate degree
22 Accounting manager $77,979 Associate degree
23 Dental hygienist $78,974 Associate degree
24 Real estate agent $90,687 Postsecondary certificates
25 .NET developer $95,312 Associate degree
26 Finance manager $97,916 Associate degree
27 Network engineer $98,068 Associate degree
28 Software engineer $108,981 Associate degree
29 Chief technology officer $144,682 Associate degree
30 Loan officer $176,466 Associate degree

9 Reasons Why it is Worth Taking a Job with Lower Pay

Taking a job lower paying job may be worth it because the new opportunity can sometimes lead to better happiness, higher job satisfaction, and bigger rewards in your career and life.

Below, we will list down a few reasons why it is worth taking a job with a lower pay.

1. When the company have better workplace benefits.

Having better benefits is actually very important when consider accepting any job offer. Some jobs can offer rewards beyond monetary benefits.

Types of Workplace Benefits

  • Healthcare insurance. Co-paid or fully company subsidized healthcare insurance; medical, dental.
  • Paid time off. Days of paid leave you are given to recharge yourself by staying at home or going out for holidays.
  • Performance bonus. Bonus paid to the employee based on the company and individual performance at work.
  • Paid sick leave. Days where you get paid even when you are not able to perform your work due to medical reasons.
  • 401(k) plan, retirement plan. Retirement plan given by your employer which helps you to plan for your retirement.
  • Working Hours. Having the opportunity to work from home, or just having flexible working hours cannot be bought with money alone.
  • Office perks. Free breakfast, lunch, dinner, or refreshment provided by the company.
  • Employee development programs. Training or development programs that develop employees into more competitive in the industry.
  • Gym membership and health wellness programs. Health programs which allows the employee to become healthier both physically and mentally.
  • Stock, stock options or equity purchase plans. Stocks purchasing plans provided by the company to allow the employee to purchase company’s stock at a discount rate.

A survey found that 4 out of 5 employees (79%) will rather have great company benefits than a pay raise.

Importance of company benefit have found to be highest amount the younger employees.

  • Age 18-34: 89% Prefer better benefits over pay raise
  • Age 35-44: 84% Prefer better benefits over pay raise
  • Age 45-54: 70% Prefer better benefits over pay raise
  • Age 55-64: 66% Prefer better benefits over pay raise

Why company benefits are important when you are considering a job offer?

Better benefits of a company shows that the company invested in not only to your overall health, but to your future development in your career. A good company benefit package can make you feel more satisfy and happier in your work and life.

Metlife Employee Benefit Trends Study, performed in 2020 shows,

  • 61% of the employees feel less stress when the company is providing good quality workplace benefits.
  • 53% of the employees finds company benefits actually improve their financial wellbeing.
  • 49% of the employees says proper company benefits can help them become more successful in work.

2. When you are exploring a new career.

Entering a new field or a new industry when you have little to no relevant experience will often requires you to take up a job with less pay.

The change in taking a job in a different career path can sometimes improve your quality of life and provide a more flexible working hours, or even allows you to work remotely. These changes can often be worth more than getting a higher paying job.

Whatever your motivation for exploring a new career, giving up a high salary for a more satisfying role might be the best career decision you can make.

Furthermore, if your new job is a growing field, often you’ll see your salary grow quickly as well.

3. When you are taking a lower paying job for less stress.

People who report making a higher pay tend to face a higher level of stress, while not necessary getting higher level of job satisfaction.

Getting a higher pay don’t always makes you feel more happy.

Many high paying jobs have high level of stress and demand, which even the best employee can suffer from burnout.

Monday blues are real, but if you find yourself dread going to work more than normal, or never feel as happy as you think when you achieved something at work.

You might be suffering from depression.

A bigger paycheck isn’t worth the exchange for your mental wellbeing, and your job might be the reason.

When this is the case, you may consider taking up a job with a lower pay and better work-life balance.

Since, making less money often mean making lifestyle changes, many of us often avoid getting a job that pays too low.

Here are the best low-stress jobs that pay well.

Low Stress Jobs That Pay Well

No. Job Title Median Salary Education Requirement
1 Landscaper and Groundskeeper $31,730 None
2 Web Developer $77,200 Associate degree
3 Massage Therapist $43,620 Postsecondary certificates
4 Genetic Counselor $85,700 Master’s degree
5 Wind Turbine Technician $56,230 Postsecondary certificates
6 Dental Hygienist $77,090 Associate degree
7 Cartographer $68,380 Bachelor’s degree
8 Orthotist and Prosthetist $70,190 Master’s degree
9 Occupational Therapist $86,280 Master’s degree
10 Physical Therapist Assistant $59,770 Associate degree

4. When you just need a job.

When you are unemployed and need money to pay your bills, it’s better to take a lower paying job than not to have any job at all.

You will probably feel happier getting paid, than being broke and jobless.

As long as the pay for the job is reasonable and provide you with the experience you’ll need to grow your career.

You can always look a job with a higher pay while you are working at the lower paying job.

Having less pay is always better than having no pay at all.

There is no reason why you should only start working when you find a job that pay the highest.

Of course, you should always try to negotiate for a higher pay, but often the pay you are offered will be determined by many factors.

Factors that employers consider while determine your salary.

  • Relevant skill. Pay is directly proportional to the number of relevant skills you have in bringing to the job.
  • Experience. Pay is directly influence to the years of experience you have in the industry and job role.
  • Education. Educational qualifications and certifications will often determine if you are paid at a certain pay range.
  • Management experience. People who have experience managing people are often pay higher.

5. When you are taking a lower paying job but happier.

When making less money brings you higher level of happiness, it make sense to take up a lower paying job.

Taking a lower paying job can be bad move if you are staying in the same industry or position. Not all less paying job mean less work and less stress.

But often a lower paying job in the right industry give you more freedom at work and less responsibility which allows you to feel less stress and happier.

Happiness is what we often strive for in our career and life.

6. When you take priority of your personal life over your professional life.

There are many reasons why your personal life take priority over your professional life.

You may want to move out from your current city to a neighborhood you really like, or you may want to explore an entirely new country and experience the life living there.

Often jobs that are away from the city, or from less developed countries pay less money. But the cost of your living is often less as well.

Or you are feeling disrupted and sad in some ways and may want some time and space to sort things out. You may want to switch into a job that requires less demand of your time and energy as well

Whichever is your reasons, it is the perfectly fine for you to find a job that may pay lower.

Nurturing your mind and finding happiness in life are good reasons for you to take a job that pay less.

7. When you have family obligations.

Family is the most important people in your life, and growing a family means you’ll need to shift your priorities.

  • You might be a new mom or dad who is preparing for the birth of a new member of your family.
  • You might want to stay at home with your children during their early days rather than paying for childcare.
  • You might need to work from home to take care of your elderly parents.

Whichever is your reasons, taking a job with less money but with fewer hours away from home can be your answer.

Time with family is often irreplaceable.

The choice of the job you take could mean the difference between being able to be there for your family and relying on a care agency to take care of your family.

8. When your new job have a better job title.

Job title will not only explain your role in the company, it also defines your importance in the company’s hierarchy. Your job title determines your relevance in the company.

The job title that you hold in your new job, gives hiring manager a general sense of who you are as an employee.

Although you may preferred to have both a high pay and and a good job title.

An impressive job title can be more important than the pay, it allows you to command more respect in the company. Which on the hindsight, a good job title will allow you to negotiate a higher wage, and ask for a higher pay when you look for a new job.

Can you ask for better job title?

As a job applicant, you can ask whether the position is newly created, or there are other existing employees with the same position and responsibility in the company.

If it is a newly created role, the job title is likely to be an element of negotiation, and you can probably ask for a better job title.

Better job title in your resume can have a major impact to your future career prospect and salary range, so it can be worthwhile even when you are getting a lower pay.

9. When you need to keep your current job.

Forced between taking a pay cut or losing your job, it is always a tough decision.

Times can be tough for companies and organizations where they will need to reduce expenses for the company to survive.

Often, many company may not recover from the tough times and end up closing down the business.

But if you think the company may reward or recognize for your loyalty to the business, and you need this job badly.

Taking a temporary pay cut might be a logical choice to make.

Even if you want to take the payout and start a job search, often employers prefer hiring someone who is employed to someone who is not.

When not to take a lower paying job?

Taking a lower paying job can often be bad move if you are staying in the same industry or position. Often, if you are taking a new job with the same list of responsibilities and required skillset, your amount of work and stress will probably stays the same.

Not all less paying job mean less work and less stress.

Taking a less paying job do not always lead to greater level of happiness.

Understanding the industry and knowing what is your primary priority when taking up any job will be essential for you to make the right decision when accepting any job offers.

Optimal salary for happiness

Having an optimal salary does improve happiness and having a right amount of money can leave you feeling less stress and generally more satisfied with life by providing your general basic needs and wants.

5 Levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Level Human Needs Meaning
1 Physiological Needs Basic needs such as food, water, clothing and shelter.
2 Safety Needs Basic needs such as protection and safe from violence and maintain general well-being of life.
3 Love and Belonging Needs Physical and emotional intimacy with your loved ones, ranging from emotional bonds with family and friends to sexual relationships with your partner.
4 Esteem Needs Self-confidence and acknowledgment from others.
5 Self-actualization Needs Highest level of personal actualization by fulfilment of one’s potential as a person.

Generally, people tent to feel happier the more money they make because they are able to fulfil most of the basic human needs.

“Salary of $60,000 to $95,000 per year is the optimal salary for highest level of happiness money can buy according to science.”

Thus, if you are taking a lower paying job where the salary is within the optimal salary for happiness, you can be pretty sure more money will not make you indefinitely happier.

Because higher level of human needs are not always exchangeable with money.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Explained in Video


Are you willing to take a lower paying job?

Let us know in the comments below!

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