Is Education the Springboard to Job Fit and Job Satisfaction?

Researchers have often suggested that education is an important part of life satisfaction, in no small part because educated individuals tend to be well-informed and can make good decisions—especially when it comes to choosing a good job. Researchers (Ilies, Yao, Curseu, & Liang, 2018) decided to test whether or not this is true, and what role job satisfaction plays on the path from education to life satisfaction—particularly when financial and health satisfaction have already been accounted for in overall happiness.


The researchers defined job fit as how well employees believe that their skills, abilities, and education match up—or fit—with the job they have. In this study, job fit was measured by questioning whether or not participants felt that their education level, knowledge, and skills suited their work. 

Using a framework that took a bottom-up approach, researchers found that education indeed shared a relationship with job fit. Accordingly, job fit shared a relationship with job satisfaction. Finally, job satisfaction contributes to overall life satisfaction.

Researchers were also able to show that, although work, health, and financial well-being did contribute to life satisfaction, they did so independently from one another. In other words, although there is some overlap, these effects still individually contributed to life satisfaction.   


A surprising finding was that education and financial literacy had some small negative effects on job and life satisfaction. Researchers posit that this is part of the social comparison process; basically, people with more education tend to be less satisfied at their job than someone else might be with the same job and a different level of education. This theory has yet to be tested, however. 


Many studies have shown that education and well-being are related to the prestige and income received at work. This study in particular not only contributes to that existing body of research, but focuses in on the idea that educated workers will gravitate towards jobs that offer them a better fit, thereby increasing job satisfaction. When job satisfaction is increased, life satisfaction usually increases.


Ilies, R., Yao, J., Curseu, P. L., Liang, A. X. (2018). Educated and happy: A four-year study explaining the links between education, job fit, and life satisfaction. Applied Psychology: An International Review, (68)1, 150-176.