12 Low-Stress Jobs That Pay Well
Over the years I’ve had a few corporate jobs – some that were inspiring and fun and some that sucked my soul of all joy and hope. That may sound like an overstatement, but when you spend so many hours in once place, it’s inevitable that it will impact your life outside of the office too. That’s why I love the latest article from one of my guest writers, Sarah Landrum of Punched Clocks. She has researched the job market and come up with some great options that are low-stress AND financially rewarding. Whether you’re considering a career change or you or someone you know is in college and trying to figure out their path, this article is a great resource to think differently about what’s next. Enjoy!
12 Low-Stress Jobs That Pay Well
By Sarah Landrum, Guest Writer
Job hunting’s a lot like dating. Sometimes, you fall for a nice person about as interesting as a cereal box cutout. Other times, you get swept off your feet by Mr. or Ms. Excitement Incarnate, only to have your heart dashed to pieces like a porcelain vase beneath a 1-ton anvil.
But if you’re lucky enough, you meet The One.
The One is neither too nice nor too Taylor-Swift-song material. He or she possesses both genuine kindness and strength of character. You feel like giving your all to that person, because that person is also giving you a lot in return.
And that’s exactly how these twelve jobs will make you feel. They’re the perfect combination of low-stress and high-pay that will make your heart sing like a songbird on a sunny day.
Without further ado, here are 12 low-stress and high-paying jobs:
Actuaries are basically specialized mathematicians. They use statistics to predict the likelihood of accidents and disasters occurring, so they usually end up with cushy jobs in insurance companies. Because this line of work isn’t deadline-oriented, stress levels are kept at a minimum. To become competitive as an actuary, you need to pass a series of exams, on top of having a relevant bachelor’s degree.
Average Annual Salary: $80,360
If you wear glasses or contact lenses, chances are you’ve dealt with an optometrist. They check for vision problems, prescribe corrective lenses, and occasionally assist ophthalmologists with the pre- and post-operative care of patients. They make the big bucks to stare into the eyes of beautiful strangers. If that’s not enough, they are further rewarded with the sense of fulfillment that could only come with giving sight to those who could not otherwise see. At the minimum, they need a bachelor’s degree in the sciences, a four-year training in optometry school and a state license in order to practice their profession.
Average Annual Salary: $94,323
Unlike dentists, dental hygienists don’t have to deal with odontophobia. Their job is to clean a patient’s pearly whites, dish out expert advice on oral hygiene and maybe reassure the patient that, no, the dentist is most definitely not a demon with a drill. Looking at freshly-cleaned, brilliant smiles is sure to make their job a happy one. Sometimes, they even have the opportunity to travel on missions trips to bless mouths in need all over the world. To practice their profession, they need an associate’s degree in dental hygiene, plus an official license that meets their state’s requirements.
Average Annual Salary: $50,847
Do you love to analyze whether democracy is the best form of government? Can you name – or maybe even quote – ancient Roman senators off the top of your head? If you answered yes to either of those questions, you might enjoy political science – a career that covers anything and everything about politics. To gain the skills needed to study and analyze political structures and trends, you’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree and a master’s/Ph.D. to make a career out of this field. Sounds daunting to me, but it’s been given a pretty low stress tolerance score by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Average Annual Salary: $52,749
If you want to write full-time minus the risk of becoming a “starving artist,” consider technical writing. As you can guess from the name, the job requires you to read through several pages of technical material, and translate the same into an easy-to-understand format. Unlike other types of writing, this one doesn’t take too much out of your creative muscles. As long as you have a talent for simplifying – but not dumbing down – complex ideas, you’ll do just fine. And, you’ll get to work from the comfort of your own home. Talk about low stress!
Average Annual Salary: $52,943
If you love the idea of law more than the idea of practicing it, this is for you. Like doctors, law professors can set their own hours and workload. (Also, they can fail students they don’t like. Just kidding!) Obviously, you need both a bachelor’s degree and a law degree before you can stand in front of students and say with conviction: “Ignorantia legis neminem excusat.” (Ignorance of the law excuses no one.)
Average Annual Salary: $127,432
With a word like “director,” you’d think this is a high-stress job. But no: Art directors quietly work behind the scenes to ensure that visual mediums – such as magazines, movies, product packages – are as appealing as possible for their target audience. The only stressful thing about it is that you need a ton of experience in other creative fields – such as photography, graphic design and illustration – before you can become one. But then you get to stare at magnificent works of art and wonder at the beauty of life.
Average Annual Salary: $58,769
Though hearing loss is common in the U.S., audiologists don’t always have to deal with a barrage of patients at any one time. They can set their own hours, and work in places like clinics, physicians’ offices and other healthcare facilities. To specialize as a doctor who treats hearing problems, you need a medical degree, and a license to practice based on the requirements of your state.
Average Annual Salary: $63,097
With a solid undergraduate economics program, and a master’s degree or Ph.D., you can land a job anywhere. You can be a university professor, a business consultant, or even a Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. Even graduates with only a bachelor’s degree can land decent jobs in the federal government, provided they’re ambitious and talented enough. Lucky for economists, they’re always needed – even when the economy tanks – so they don’t have to worry about losing their job. Not to mention, many economists turn out to be billionaires!
Average Annual Salary: $75,050
Being the M in S.T.E.M., it’s no surprise that this field pays a hefty amount. It’s also no surprise that mathematicians have low stress levels, considering that they often work with like-minded individuals such as engineers and scientists. Most math fields require a master’s degree, though jobs are available for bachelor’s degree holders as well.
Average Annual Salary: $77,054
Remember your childhood days, when you loved to search for shapes formed by the stars (a.k.a. constellations) in the sky? You can actually make a good living from it. With a Ph.D., extensive research experience and an insatiable thirst for knowledge, an astronomer can uncover the secrets of the universe, and become immortalized in future editions of science and history books for it.
Average Annual Salary: $94,689
Hate less-than-perfectly-aligned teeth? Orthodontics is for you, then. Here, you’re responsible for examining, diagnosing and treating malocclusions (the technical term for “misaligned teeth”). Since patients don’t expect you to whip up brackets and artificial teeth in a jiffy, you have time to craft the perfect set of dental correction tools for them. To become an orthodontist, you need a bachelor’s degree, four years in dental school, and one or two more years of residency training.
Average Annual Salary: $151,160
About the Author: Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks, a site for those looking to grow their careers. Passionate about helping others find happiness and success, she shares advice on everything from career development and leadership, to health and fitness, and more! Follow her for more great tips @SarahLandrum