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Image: Construction workers
Amy Sancetta  /  AP file
Hey, at least they get fresh air. Construction workers scored high for happiness.
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updated 3/1/2012 7:12:43 PM ET 2012-03-02T00:12:43

Do you work in retail or media and think your friends who work in education and real estate are all happier than you? That isn’t just your imagination.

According to online career site CareerBliss.com, those are some of the happiest and unhappiest fields to work in right now.

“For students just looking to start their careers or professionals making career changes, knowing which industries have the highest chance of workplace happiness is a great value,” says CareerBliss’ chief technology officer, Matt Miller. “We have found that workplace happiness directly impacts overall happiness in life.”

Forbes.com slideshow: The happiest and unhappiest industries to work in

Our list of the happiest and unhappiest industries to work in, compiled by CareerBliss, is based on more than 43,000 independent employee reviews. Those employees, all over the country, were asked to evaluate nine factors that affect workplace happiness. Those included their relationship with the boss and co-workers, work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, daily tasks, and control over the work done does on a daily basis. They evaluated each item on a five-point scale and also indicated how important it was to their overall happiness.

Heading the list of the unhappiest industries to work in is agriculture and mining, with an index score of 3.76. Agriculture and mining workers also expressed the most pessimism about growth opportunities and compensation.

“Often agriculture and mining jobs have lower salaries, and our data shows that workers in these areas felt that growth opportunity was limited, which can have a drastic impact on the way employees feel about their overall future,” Miller says.

Forbes.com: How to be happier

“Many people in agriculture and mining are realizing that their ability to transition into the modern workforce is very limited,” adds Heidi Golledge, chief executive of CareerBliss. “Unfortunately, the skills needed for farming and mining do not translate well in the computer age.”

Tied for second most unhappy are those in the software and Internet industry and at nonprofits; both earned an index score of 3.81. Workers in those areas are very dissatisfied with their growth opportunities and compensation, but they’re also very satisfied with their colleagues and daily work tasks.

“We thought that the nonprofit employees would actually be some of the happiest, given their ability to give back,” Golledge says. “However, with the downturn in the economy, many people felt their jobs at the nonprofits were at risk and therefore they were unhappy due to their concerns over job security.”

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Forbes.com: The world’s happiest (and saddest) countries

Golledge adds, “At first, we were very surprised that the software and Internet industry didn’t rank higher. Then, when drilling down we realized although there are happy companies, such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter, there are many people in the technical industry who are behind the scenes, making the companies run. Since they are not a profit center but a cost center, some of their reviews reflected less happiness.”

Media and entertainment and retail tie for the third unhappiest industry to work in, with an index score of 3.85.CareerBliss also compiled a less gloomy list: The Happiest Industries To Work In.

If you’re hoping to smile more at work, think about switching to a job in telecommunications, construction, or financial services. Those are some of the industries where workers are happiest.

Forbes.com: The 11 hottest industries for start-ups

But the most blissful employees of all work for the government. With an index score of 4.07, government employees said they are more than satisfied with the people they work with and their daily tasks. They’re most dissatisfied with growth opportunities, compensation and company culture.

“Many folks in government feel truly happy because they feel they are giving something back to their country,” Golledge says. “Additionally, they are part of a larger structure, so they know what they should be doing and when, and they feel good about the hierarchy.”

The education industry follows close behind in the No. 2 spot, with a 4.06 index score. Workers in education are particularly happy with their boss and colleagues.

Forbes.com: The six rules of personal success

“With education we found that many people feel happier and more empowered if they can help others through teaching,” Golledge says.

The real estate and construction industry ties the wholesale and distribution industry for the No. 3 spot. Both earned a 3.98 index score.

“Although construction and real estate have been hit hard in the last three years, our data shows that employees who continue to work in this sector are very happy with their co-workers and the overall job they do each day,” Miller says.

Forbes.com: On the wrong path? 6 steps to finding your way

© 2012 Forbes.com

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