Millennials value happiness, not career according to new report

Fewer than 1 in 10 millennials identify their career as their top priority, according to a newly released special report from Navient’s Money Under 35 national study, conducted with Ipsos. The research finds young adults, ages 22 to 35, are more likely to say that just being happy or spending time with family is “most important” to them.

The research takes a closer look at job satisfaction, educational fit and how young adults feel about their current and future career paths.

“We find that professional success is an important contributor to overall financial health,” said Julie Wilson, head of research for Navient. “That said, what matters most to millennials isn’t financially focused at all. They value other passions and relationships more than extrinsic goals like career advancement or paying off debt.”

Interestingly, young adults who said their career is their top priority are no more or less likely to be very satisfied with their current job than their peers.

Additional findings from Navient’s special report include:

  • Young adults who are very satisfied with their current job are more likely to be in excellent financial health. While 30 percent of young adults with high job satisfaction are in “excellent” financial health, very few (7%) of adults with low job satisfaction are doing as well.
  • Job satisfaction increases with age. Thirty-three percent of adults between 22 and 30 years old are “very satisfied” with their jobs, compared with 45 percent of those aged 31 to 35.
  • Most young adults with a degree are working in their field of study. Seventy percent of employed adults with a college degree are working in their field of study, increasing to 85 percent among advanced degree holders.
  • Millennials want a bigger paycheck. Only 3 in 10 young adults are very satisfied with their income.
  • Millennial men are more satisfied with their careers than women. Overall, men are more likely to be very satisfied with their current job (42%) and prospects for career advancement (45%) than women (32% and 33% respectively).

Navigating the path to a meaningful career can seem daunting for those starting out and pros alike. To help, Navient offers The Career Playbook—a YouTube-based video series—in partnership with career expert and author James M. Citrin. The video series helps aspiring professionals of all ages develop career development skills, such as interviewing and networking, to advance their career.

Navient’s Money Under 35 study, conducted in partnership with global research company Ipsos, is based on a survey of more than 3,000 adults aged 22 to 35. This special report and complete Money Under 35 study is available at

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