Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Jul 22nd 2008 at 7:48am UTC

Shiny Happy Jobs

In Rise of the Creative Class I posed the question of the machine shop and the hair salon, asking a group of my students in which profession they would rather work. A recent UK survey (h/t: Charlotta Mellander) suggests my students are a very smart bunch.

  • Hairdressers are undoubtedly the UK’s happiest profession, ranking in the top two positions in every year except 2006 when they were usurped by DJs! Beauty therapists have also ranked highly, in
    the top three for the last four years of the survey.
  • Both (hairdressers and beauty therapists) attributed their contentment to strong relationships with their colleagues. Salon professionals also value having an interest in what they do for a living, which 100% of hairdressers believe is important to on-the-job happiness.

It’s worth asking what it is about jobs like hair-cutting, cosmetology, and DJing that make people happy. And as I argued in Rise, there’s a lot we can learn from these jobs to upgrade the happiness quotient of other forms of work.

7 Responses to “Shiny Happy Jobs”

  1. Mike L. Says:

    The happy folks do a lot of happy talking on the job. Machine operators do almost no talking, and what they do say is not happy ….

  2. FamilyFantasySports Says:

    also, if they do their job well, they make other people happy and can see it in front of them (ie big smile as people walk out with new hairdoes and dancing/sweating/smiling maniacs in a club)

  3. Michael Wells Says:

    Of course in the UK they don’t have to worry about health insurance.

  4. Zoe B Says:

    The guy who cuts my hair has been on the job since age 13, when he quit academics to go to beauty school. He’s had a good life, especially for a man with an 8th grade education. He has had the rare pleasure of decades-long personal relationships with many of his clients. But at age 60 his body is getting worn out. He’s going to have to quit soon. I get the idea he hasn’t got a lot of retirement savings (certainly no pension). He’s pretty sad these days. We clients worry about what he is going to do.

  5. zorcha Says:

    I was a hair stylist for seven years in California Coat, then I finished graduate school and became a licenced Clinical Social Worker, Love my position, yet had to get my Masters degree to work in my position. Getting a Nursing degree you only have to go to college two years after your course class requierments, and will earn $4000.00 or more right after you finish the program. If you get your B.S.N. or become a Nurse Pratitioner expect to earn $6000.00 or more.
    Yes hair styling was fun, the tips were great too, and some stylists can make $6000.00 or more a month depending where you work. Also in some salons its alright to party while working and you can also date your clients. It’s really not a smart thing to do though!

  6. Linda Says:

    I was a hairdresser & I’m shocked by this info. Hairdressers are notoriously low paid. Most of us earn hourly wage, not commission as many think & if commission, the split is normally 60-40 or 55-45, in favor of the shop. Only the top % earn decent wages. Hairdressers are also notoriously transient & I found through working experience, to be horrifically unhappy & troubled. I worked in more than 1/2-dozen shops in different cities coast to coast & finally left after 2-yrs time. I found the environment highly toxic & I don’t just mean chemicals. I’m glad my experience seems to be out of the norm according to his figures, but strange that any hairdressers I knew were unhappy, jumped ship regularly & eventually got out of the field. Only those who were married to husbands with high paying jobs were the happy ones, leading me to believe that creativity alone doesn’t make one fulfilled. I loved the work, but couldn’t pay bills on a hair salary, no matter where I lived. Sorry to disagree, but I’ve seen far more on my side of the fence in that field.

  7. Probate Says:

    It all about the ability to share your creative expression. Also being able to complete a project in a short period of time is therapeutic. To get positive feedback every twenty minutes would make anyone giddy.