Top 24 States for Career Satisfaction

Choosing the right place to advance your career involves weighing many important factors. You have to consider everything from job satisfaction and salary to work-life balance and job stability. It’s about finding a place where you can thrive professionally and personally.

To guide you in this significant decision, we’ve put together a detailed list of the 24 best U.S. states to work in. This list isn’t just random; it’s based on comprehensive evaluations of critical employment indicators. We’ve also included a unique happiness score out of 100 for each state, calculated by HR technology experts, to give you a clearer picture of where you might find your ideal work environment.

#1. Alaska: Where Happiness Meets Employment

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With a happiness score of 69.96, Alaska takes the top spot as the state with the happiest employees. It boasts a shortened average workweek of just 31.3 hours, allowing workers to strike a better work-life balance. With an impressive annual wage of $52,000, Alaskan employees are content and well-compensated.

The state’s overall job satisfaction score reflects a harmonious work environment, making it an excellent choice for employees.

#2. Rhode Island: A Tiny State with Big Opportunities

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This state offers a thriving job market, and its available paid time off (PTO) laws ensure employees can take the necessary breaks. Hence, Rhode Island is high on the list, with a 56.64 happiness score.

With a modest quit rate of 3.4%, it stands out for its job stability. Additionally, it has the lowest injury rate of any state, with only five fatal incidents reported in the previous year, making it a safe and secure workplace.

#3. North Dakota: Short Commutes and Solid Wages

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Coming in third at 56.40, this state offers a comfortable annual wage of $47,400, and employees benefit from an average commute of just 17.6 minutes. The shorter commute times contribute to a better work-life balance, making it an appealing choice for those seeking a rewarding job experience.

#4. Colorado: Where Work Meets the Great Outdoors

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Colorado is another state that excels in providing a favorable work environment. It maintains an average wage of $50,250, ensuring employees are well-compensated for their efforts, which explains its score of 55.76. With modest injury and quit rates and consistently below-average working hours of 39.4 per week, it is a top choice for job seekers seeking job satisfaction.

#5. Minnesota: Land of Lakes and Prosperity

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Despite an above-average working week at 40.2 hours, it ranks high with a 55.26 score due to the low quit rate of 1.8% and generous PTO laws; employees in Minnesota enjoy job security and ample time off. This state proves it’s not just about the hours you put in but the overall quality of the balance you can achieve.

#6. Nebraska: Consistent Satisfaction

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Nebraska’s affordable living and robust job market make it an appealing option. The state’s diverse economy includes agriculture, manufacturing, and technology sectors. Friendly communities and a stable economy offer a comfortable and rewarding professional life, putting it at a 54.91 score.

#7. Maine: The Northeast’s Gem

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Its unique combination of factors, including job stability and a thriving job market, makes it an excellent choice for those looking to work in the Northeastern United States. Its mesmerizing coastline, vibrant arts scene, and outdoor recreational activities attract professionals seeking a good balance of life and enjoyment. It has been scored 53.98.

#8. Ohio: The Heartland of Employment

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Ohio’s solid job market and work-related benefits make it a desirable workplace, hence resulting in a score of 52.05. With various industries thriving in Ohio, it provides diverse employment opportunities to choose from, such as manufacturing, healthcare, and technology industries.

#9. Arizona: Sunny Days and Satisfying Work

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Arizona’s rapidly growing technology sector, beautiful desert landscapes, and vibrant culture make it a desirable place to work and live, which explains its 51.69 score. Cities like Phoenix and Tucson offer job seekers numerous opportunities, while the state’s low cost of living ensures that your earnings go further.

#10. Indiana: Stability & Satisfaction

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Indiana’s central location and business-friendly environment have attracted major companies like Eli Lilly and Company and Cummins. The state’s strong manufacturing sector and low cost of living make it an ideal destination for those seeking a stable career and a comfortable lifestyle. Its happiness score is 48.84

#11. Massachusetts: Innovation and Education Hub

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At a score of 48.33, Massachusetts boasts a world-class education system, leading to a highly skilled workforce. The state is home to prestigious institutions like Harvard and MIT. Greater Boston offers a thriving job market in healthcare, technology, and finance. This state has the highest average wage, at $58,450 per annum.

#12. West Virginia: A Hidden Gem in Appalachia

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West Virginia, at a score of 48.31, offers an affordable cost of living, stunning natural beauty, and a growing energy sector. While the state’s economy traditionally relies on coal mining, new renewable energy and healthcare opportunities are emerging.

#13. California: The Golden State of Innovation

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Scoring 46.92, California is synonymous with innovation, thanks to Silicon Valley’s tech giants. The state’s diverse economy also includes entertainment, healthcare, and agriculture. Despite its higher cost of living, it attracts professionals with its job opportunities, cultural diversity, and pleasant climate.

#14. Maryland: A Thriving Job Market

Baltimore streets in spring, Maryland, USA
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Maryland’s proximity to Washington, D.C., makes it an ideal location for government-related jobs, defense contractors, and tech companies. The state offers a strong job market, excellent education options, and a high standard of living. Its Chesapeake Bay shoreline provides numerous recreational opportunities. This state scored 45.92.

#15. Hawaii: Where Work Meets Paradise

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Hawaii’s natural beauty, tropical climate, and unique culture make it a dream destination for many. While the cost of living is high, the state’s tourism industry and growing technology sector provide job opportunities, earning it a score of 44.01.

#16. Illinois: The Heart of the Midwest

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Illinois, scoring 43.70 on the happiness scale, is home to the bustling city of Chicago and a diverse economy that includes finance, healthcare, and manufacturing. The state’s central location and transportation infrastructure make it an attractive professional hub.

#17. Utah: The Silicon Slopes

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Utah’s tech boom has propelled the state onto the national stage. Its thriving tech sector, outdoor recreational opportunities, and lower cost of living make it an appealing choice for job seekers. The state’s family environment and excellent schools add to its attraction and could be reasons for its score of 43.41.

#18. Oklahoma: The Heartland of Opportunity

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This state’s diverse economy includes energy, agriculture, and aerospace industries, providing a broad spectrum of career opportunities. The state’s low cost of living and affordable housing make it appealing for professionals looking to establish a solid career foundation.

Its friendly communities and rich cultural heritage also create a unique and welcoming atmosphere, placing it at a score of 42.98.

#19. Washington: Thriving on the West Coast

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Often referred to as the Evergreen State, it is a Pacific Northwest gem known for its lush landscapes, including the iconic Mount Rainier and the Puget Sound. With a score of 42.95, this hub of innovation, home to tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft, is a hotspot for career opportunities in the tech sector.

Seattle, the state’s largest city, offers a dynamic job market and diverse cultural activities.

#20. Vermont: Green Mountain State of Tranquility

Lake Memphremagog - Newport, Vermont
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This state, scoring 42.11, is known for its scenic beauty, charming small towns, and commitment to sustainability. The state’s economy includes tourism, agriculture, and niche industries like artisanal food production.

While Vermont may have a smaller job market compared to some other states, its quality education, work-life balance, and sense of community make it a peaceful and rewarding place to work and live.

#21. Louisiana: A Blend of Culture and Industry

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Cities like New Orleans and Baton Rouge provide excellent opportunities, while the state’s lower living cost ensures that residents enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. Its warm climate and friendly atmosphere make it an attractive destination for professionals seeking a mix of culture and career growth. It has a score of 41.46.

#22. Wyoming: The Cowboy State of Freedom

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Wyoming’s wide-open spaces, pristine wilderness, and lack of state income tax make it an attractive option for those who value freedom and adventure. The state scored 40.37 on the happiness scale. While the state’s economy primarily relies on energy and agriculture, it offers job opportunities in tourism and healthcare.

#23. Oregon: The Pacific Wonderland

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Its natural beauty, including the stunning Pacific coastline and Crater Lake, is complemented by a diverse job market. Portland, the state’s largest city, is a hotspot for tech startups and creative industries. The state scored 40.35.

#24. Iowa: A Balance of Agriculture and Innovation

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Often referred to as the heartland of America, it is a hidden gem with a robust agricultural industry and burgeoning tech sector. Its central location and accessibility to major cities like Chicago and Minneapolis enhance its appeal further. It has been scored as 39.50.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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