Career and Job Satisfaction Career satisfaction and job satisfaction both relate to happiness with one’s work life, but contribute to contentment in separate ways. Career satisfaction may be defined as the level of overall happiness experienced through one’s choice of occupations. Job satisfaction relates to one’s current work situation and is dependent on many ... Features
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Features  |   November 01, 2004
Career and Job Satisfaction
Author Notes
  • Louise Zingeser, is an SLP and a research analyst for ASHA. Contact her through the Action Center at 800-498-2071, ext. 4149 or at lzingeser@asha.org.
    Louise Zingeser, is an SLP and a research analyst for ASHA. Contact her through the Action Center at 800-498-2071, ext. 4149 or at lzingeser@asha.org.×
Article Information
Healthcare Settings / Professional Issues & Training / ASHA News & Member Stories / Features
Features   |   November 01, 2004
Career and Job Satisfaction
The ASHA Leader, November 2004, Vol. 9, 4-13. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR2.09202004.4
The ASHA Leader, November 2004, Vol. 9, 4-13. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR2.09202004.4
Career satisfaction and job satisfaction both relate to happiness with one’s work life, but contribute to contentment in separate ways. Career satisfaction may be defined as the level of overall happiness experienced through one’s choice of occupations. Job satisfaction relates to one’s current work situation and is dependent on many factors, including the marketplace, work conditions, job location, and other dynamic influences. An individual may feel very certain of having made a correct career choice but be experiencing an unsatisfactory current work experience. Conversely, a current job situation may have many positive components but not be fully satisfying as a career choice.
ASHA has examined levels of both career and job satisfaction over many years. Association surveys have posed questions regarding both aspects of work life to ASHA constituents. Trends in overall career satisfaction and job satisfaction, as well as more subtle aspects in the work lives of audiologists and speech-language pathologists, have emerged through an analysis of these survey responses.
Career Satisfaction
A recent study (Arizona State University Career Services, 2004) found about 75% of individuals in the overall workforce (i.e., across all occupations) are satisfied with their career choices. A study of physician career satisfaction found similar levels of career satisfaction (Landon, 2004). ASHA has tracked levels of career satisfaction among its constituents for more than 20 years through the Omnibus Surveys and has determined that ASHA constituents enjoy high levels of career satisfaction, similar to or above those of the general workforce.
The 1983 Omnibus Survey asked respondents to select among four possible responses about their careers. Two responses indicated satisfaction (i.e., “this is the only career that would satisfy me” and “this is one of several equally satisfying careers”) and two indicated dissatisfaction (i.e., “this is not the most satisfying career” and “I would change to another career if possible”). Results, analyzed by gender, indicated that 77% of females and 71% of males were satisfied with their careers. These results were compared to findings of a 1964 survey of ASHA constituents (Shehan, Hadley, & Lechleiner, 1964) using the identical question set. In the 1964 survey, satisfaction results were 20% higher for both females and males. The same question was asked in the 1985 and 1986–1987 Omnibus Surveys. Results are not available separately by gender, but they did indicate stable or slightly higher levels of career satisfaction for these years (for 1985, 80% were “satisfied;” for 1986–1987, 81% were “satisfied”). A variant of this question was asked in the 1988 Omnibus Survey, and responses indicated an even higher level of career satisfaction (86% reported “satisfied”).
Career satisfaction may also be assessed by assigning ratings to satisfaction measures. In the 1988 Omnibus Survey, ASHA respondents indicated whether they were “very satisfied,” “satisfied,” “neutral,” “dissatisfied,” or “very satisfied” with their careers. A high percentage indicated that they were either “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with their careers; very few indicated that they were “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with their careers. Compared to the responses in 1988, responses to this question in the 1995 Omnibus Survey indicated that an even higher percentage of ASHA constituents were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their careers. The results of these two surveys are displayed in Figure 1.
Job Satisfaction
ASHA has compiled data on constituents’ job satisfaction in several ways. One means has been to ask survey respondents to rate their overall level of job satisfaction. In the 2001 Omnibus Survey, respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction relative to three years before. Response options were as follows:
  • not in same type of facility as three years ago

  • extremely dissatisfied compared to three years ago

  • somewhat dissatisfied compared to three years ago

  • not much difference

  • somewhat more satisfied compared to three years ago

  • extremely satisfied compared to three years ago.

In presenting the results for this question, Options 5 and 6 are combined as “satisfied” and Options 2 and 3 are combined as “dissatisfied.” Overall, 27% of respondents were not in the same type of facility as three years before.
The Speech-Language Pathology Healthcare Survey in 2002 posed the same question about levels of job satisfaction. Results were analyzed for all health care settings combined and by various settings (general medical hospital, rehabilitation hospital, pediatric hospital, skilled nursing facility, home health, outpatient or speech/hearing clinic, or other). Results for all settings combined showed that 18% of respondents were not working in the same type of facility as three years before. Of the remaining respondents, essentially equivalent numbers reported being “satisfied” (25%) as did those answering “dissatisfied” (26%) relative to three years ago.
An examination of the results by specific settings revealed notable differences in job satisfaction ratings. SLPs working in outpatient or speech/hearing clinics reported the highest levels of satisfaction (34%) and the lowest levels of dissatisfaction (21%) relative to three years earlier. In contrast, those working in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) indicated much lower levels of satisfaction (22%) and higher levels of dissatisfaction (43%). Results for other health care settings fell between these two extremes.
The survey had a follow-up question seeking reasons for dissatisfaction. For SLPs across all health care settings, the major factors contributing to dissatisfaction were volume of paperwork (57%), involuntary reduction in salary or benefits (35%), involuntary increase in caseload (32%), and involuntary increase in number of sites served (28%). The factors contributing to dissatisfaction varied across settings, with volume of paperwork rated highest in pediatric hospitals (63%), involuntary reduction in salary or benefits highest in SNFs (58%), involuntary increase in caseload highest in rehabilitation hospitals (60%), and involuntary increase in number of sites served highest in SNFs (54%) (For more information on SNFs, see story on p. 1.).
A different aspect of job satisfaction was examined in the 2003 Omnibus Survey. Respondents were asked to pick their top three factors contributing to job satisfaction from a list of 10 potential factors. For both professions combined, type of client/work setting was the option selected most often, followed by pay and by collaborative relationships with others. The top three factors cited differed by profession. Audiologists listed pay as most important, followed by type of client/work setting and by challenging work environment. SLPs listed type of client/work setting as most important, followed by pay and by collaborative relationships with others.
Job satisfaction factor ratings for the 2003 Omnibus Survey were also examined by age and gender. Results for age are presented in Table 1. Ages are presented by category: less than 30 years old, 31-40 years old, 41-50 years old, and over 50 years old. Although rankings by age category were generally similar to one another and to the overall responses, some differences emerged. Only the youngest group-those less than 30 years old-ranked type of clients and work setting above pay. A flexible schedule ranked far higher in importance for respondents aged 31-40 than for any other group. Similarly, the youngest group ranked opportunities for career advancement higher than did other age groups. These rankings are presented in Table 1.
Gender differences were also noted. Rankings for the females were the same as for the total, likely due to the preponderance of females in the professions. Males gave noticeably different rankings for several factors. Pay ranked first, and challenging work environment and opportunities for advancement ranked above those factors for females. In contrast, males ranked a flexible schedule and collaborative relationship with others lower than did females. These data are presented in Table 2.
Survey Trends
An analysis of survey responses to questions about career satisfaction and job satisfaction among ASHA constituents reveals several trends. Overall, ASHA constituents have high levels of satisfaction with their career choices. Although levels of career satisfaction diminished between the 1960s and the 1980s, career satisfaction has remained strong and steady in recent years.
In contrast, job satisfaction levels have fluctuated, as have the factors contributing to satisfaction. Survey results indicate that this fluctuation is related to profession, setting, gender, and age, among other factors. It is likely that marketplace factors, such as reimbursement also contribute to shifts in job satisfaction among ASHA constituents. ASHA will continue to monitor trends in career satisfaction and job satisfaction.
Table 1: Ranking of Factors Contributing to Job Satisfaction by Age
  • Factor, Total, Age groups
  • <30, 31–40, 41–50, 50+
  • Type, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2
  • Pay, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1
  • Collaborative, 3, 3, 4, 3, 4
  • Administration, 4, 4, 5, 4, 3
  • Flexible, 5, 5, 3, 5, 6
  • Challenge, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5
  • Commute, 7, 8, 7, 7, 8
  • Advancement, 8, 7, 8, 9, 7
  • Development, 9, 9, 9, 8, 9
  • Childcare, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10
Table 2: Ranking of Factors Contributing to Job Satisfaction by Gender
  • Factor, Total, Female, Male
  • Type, 1, 1, 2
  • Pay, 2, 2, 1
  • Collaborative, 3, 3, 5
  • Administration, 4, 4, 3
  • Flexible, 5, 5, 7
  • Challenge, 6, 6, 4
  • Commute, 7, 7, 8
  • Advancement, 8, 8, 6
  • Development, 9, 9, 9
  • Childcare, 10, 10, 10
Additional Sidebars
Ranking of Factors Contributing to Job Satisfaction by Gender
  • Factor, Total, Female, Male
  • Type, 1, 1, 2
  • Pay, 2, 2, 1
  • Collaborative, 3, 3, 5
  • Administration, 4, 4, 3
  • Flexible, 5, 5, 7
  • Challenge, 6, 6, 4
  • Commute, 7, 7, 8
  • Advancement, 8, 8, 6
  • Development, 9, 9, 9
  • Childcare, 10, 10, 10
References
Arizona State University Career Services. (2004). Career satisfaction [Research report]. Retrieved Aug. 5, 2004, from http://career.asu.edu/V/researchreportscareersatis.htm
Arizona State University Career Services. (2004). Career satisfaction [Research report]. Retrieved Aug. 5, 2004, from http://career.asu.edu/V/researchreportscareersatis.htm×
Landon, B. E. (2004). Career satisfaction among physicians. JAMA, 291, 634. Retrieved Aug. 5, 2004, from http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/291/5/634 [Article] [PubMed]
Landon, B. E. (2004). Career satisfaction among physicians. JAMA, 291, 634. Retrieved Aug. 5, 2004, from http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/291/5/634 [Article] [PubMed]×
Shehan, J. G., Hadley, R. G., & Lechleiner, L. (1964). Career satisfaction and recruitment in speech pathology and audiology. Asha, 6, 277–283.
Shehan, J. G., Hadley, R. G., & Lechleiner, L. (1964). Career satisfaction and recruitment in speech pathology and audiology. Asha, 6, 277–283.×
Additional Resources
Blood, G. W., Thomas, E. A., Ridenour, J. S., Qualls, C. D., & Hammer, C. S. (2002). Job stress in speech-language pathologists working in rural, suburban, and urban schools: Social support and frequency of interaction. Contemporary Issues in Communication Science and Disorders, 29, 132–140.
Blood, G. W., Thomas, E. A., Ridenour, J. S., Qualls, C. D., & Hammer, C. S. (2002). Job stress in speech-language pathologists working in rural, suburban, and urban schools: Social support and frequency of interaction. Contemporary Issues in Communication Science and Disorders, 29, 132–140.×
Lass, N. J., Middleton, G. F., Pannbacker, M. D., & Marks, C. J. (1993). A survey of speech-language pathologists’ career development and satisfaction. Contemporary Issues in Communication Science and Disorders, 20, 99–104.
Lass, N. J., Middleton, G. F., Pannbacker, M. D., & Marks, C. J. (1993). A survey of speech-language pathologists’ career development and satisfaction. Contemporary Issues in Communication Science and Disorders, 20, 99–104.×
Stiegler, L. N. (1995). Reflections on working as a speech-language pathologist in the public schools. Contemporary Issues in Communication Science and Disorders, 22, 36–41.
Stiegler, L. N. (1995). Reflections on working as a speech-language pathologist in the public schools. Contemporary Issues in Communication Science and Disorders, 22, 36–41.×
Wisniewski, A. T., & Shewan, C. M. (1987, April). There is joy in Mudville: Career satisfaction. ASHA, 20, 30–31.
Wisniewski, A. T., & Shewan, C. M. (1987, April). There is joy in Mudville: Career satisfaction. ASHA, 20, 30–31.×
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November 2004
Volume 9, Issue 20