What makes up a low-stress job? It depends on an individual's conception of "stressful," and of course, some workers cannot alter their work or quit their job. However, if you are thinking about finding one of the least stressful jobs with a decent salary and job security, there are opportunities in many fields.
- Everyone has their level of what constitutes stress on the job.
- A low-stress job may not mean a slow-paced one but indicators of low-stress work may include job security, low travel requirements, and a non-competitive atmosphere in the workplace.
- Many job sectors are poised for growth in the next 10 years, especially in the medical, health, and wellness industries.
- Freelancing doesn't always equal a low-stress job.
- Some low-stress jobs come with good to excellent annual salaries.
14 Low-Stress Jobs
In its annual report, CareerCast considered 11 stress factors when ranking the jobs. These factors included whether or not the job called for extensive travel, meeting the public, physical demands, and risk to one's health or life. Factors like encountering hazards and working in challenging environmental conditions are most likely to carry some degree of stress across a general profile.
Some low-stress jobs, provide decent salaries without physical risks, few deadlines, and low competition from co-workers on the job. Stress at work can occur to due working conditions, relationships with co-workers, and other personal factors. However, if your job's baseline is fairly low-stress, it could be easier to deal with the daily stressors that occur during work.
All of these jobs are listed (in no particular order) as "low stress" or "very low stress," according to CareerCast. The information is based on its most recent (2019) jobs report, and the salary information below comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for 2021.
1. Data Scientist
- Median annual salary: $131,490
- Education Requirements: Master's Degree or higher
A data scientist's job is to evaluate and present information to their employer, and they often work in the tech sector.
Data scientists usually have a background in mathematics and computer science, as their jobs often require both of these skills. According to data from the BLS, this job sector is poised to grow 21% by 2031, so prospects for new hires are excellent. You will need a master's degree to command the data scientist's median annual salary of $131,490.
- Median annual salary: $61,650 per year.
- Education Level: Bachelor's Degree.
Dietitians work with individuals and families to help them lead healthy lives and meet health-related goals.
With a focus on eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals, dietitians can help with meal planning, weight management, and other food-related challenges. The number of dietitian jobs is expected to increase by about 7% by 2031, which is about the average for all jobs.
While working as a consultant or freelancer may give you more freedom, you must hustle to make money, which can be stressful.
3. Medical Records Technician
- Median salary: $46,660.
- Education: Postsecondary certificate or associate's degree. Some career paths may require additional certification.
The health sector is widely associated with pressurized jobs, long hours, and highly challenging working conditions, especially during pandemics.
One healthcare role that bucks this trend is that of a medical records technician, which was created to enable a single individual to organize and manage patients' information. The career outlook for these professionals is about average, with projected job growth of 7% by 2031.
4. Massage Therapist
- Median salary: $46,910
- Education requirements: Professional certification and state licensure.
Job seekers searching for a slow-paced and calm workplace setting should include a career in massage therapy. Not only is the core function of a massage therapist to soothe tired or overworked muscles and cultivate an atmosphere of relaxation, but the service provided also may target a less-than-demanding consumer base.
The job also has minimal barriers to entry, and the sector of health and wellness is a growing one if you are willing to take the training to obtain your license. Moreover, demand is projected to increase by about 20% by 2031, well above average.
Licensed massage therapists can work in a variety of settings, including spas, clinics, or for themselves.
5. Appliance Repairer
- Median annual salary: $43,180
- Education: High school diploma or equivalent.
If you are good with using tools and looking for a job that is nearly always in demand, a career in appliance repair could be a good fit.
CareerCast reported this job as "very low" stress, and the annual median salary for general maintenance and repair jobs is over $40,000. Depending on the field, you may also need additional certifications. Some repair specialists can command salaries well over $70,000.
- Median salary: $61,190
- Education: Master's degree.
If you are thinking of a career change, this low-stress job can be rewarding, and the work opportunities are not limited to just public libraries.
Schools, universities, law firms, and museums often hire librarians or research librarians for various tasks. According to the BLS, the median salary is $60,820, although you may need a master's degree to get an excellent job in this field.
7. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
- Median salary: $75,380.
- Education: Associate's degree.
Diagnostic medical sonographers operate special imaging equipment to conduct medical tests or create images.
Diagnostic medical sonographers often work in medical and diagnostic laboratories, hospitals, or medical offices. As of 2021, the median pay for this low-stress job that only calls for an associate's degree is $70,380.
8. University Professor
- Median annual salary: $79,640
- Education: Ph.D. or another doctoral-level degree.
While some academics might disagree, CareerCast did name tenured "university professor" as a low-stress job.
The BLS lists this job as a "postsecondary teacher" and notes that job growth is faster than average at 12%. Most professors have a Ph.D., but others, especially those working at community colleges in a particular area of expertise, may only need a master's degree to teach.
9. Hair Stylist
- Median salary: $29,680
- Education level: Cosmetology license.
Hairstylists interact with the public, an indicator of stress on the job by CareerCast, but this job ranks as low pressure.
Stylists may work for themselves or for a salon, and the job doesn't require a degree, although all the states require a license to practice. To obtain a license, you must graduate from a state-approved cosmetology program, pass an exam, and then you can go to work. The median annual salary is relatively low, but job growth is much faster than average at 11%.
10. Compliance Officer
- Median wage: $60,000 to $120,000 depending on the industry.
- Education: May require Bachelor's or another postsecondary degree, as well as industry-specific certification.
A compliance offer is responsible for ensuring companies comply with legal and regulatory requirements, internal policies, and bylaws. Compliance officers can work in a variety of industries, from ensuring environmental compliance on an oil rig to auditing the financials of a trading firm. Average salaries will depend on the industry.
- Median salary: $78,950.
- Education: Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) and state licensing requirements
An audiologist is a medical expert who specializes in the body's auditory systems. They may perform tests to determine the patient's level of hearing or prescribe treatment for patients suffering from hearing loss.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, audiologists have a favorable career path, with demand expected to increase by around 10% by 2031. This is about twice as fast as the job growth for the average industry.
- Median salary: $46,640
- Education: High school diploma or equivalent
Jewelers are craftspeople who work with precious stones or metals such as gold, silver, and platinum. They may also work with delicate machinery, such as watches. Although the barriers to entry are comparatively low, so is the job outlook: The number of jeweler jobs is expected to grow only 1% by 2031, well below the average.
13. Operations Research Analyst
- Median salary: $82,360
- Education: Bachelor's Degree
An operations research analyst uses data and statistical tools to solve problems and find ways to make a business more efficient. This requires strong analytical skills, as well as mastery of computer systems and other technical tools. The career outlook for operations research analysts is exceptionally strong, with the number of jobs expected to increase by 23% by 2031.
14. Pharmacy Technician
- Median salary: $36,740
- Education: High school or equivalent
Pharmacy technicians are specialists who assist pharmacists in dispensing drugs and other basic care in a pharmacy setting. Although they are less well-paid than a full pharmacist, these technicians also have a much lower barrier to entry. However, there are some state licensing requirements to be aware of. Pharmacy technicians can expect average job growth, with the number of jobs expected to increase by 5% by 2031.
What Are the Least Stressful Nursing Jobs?
Some of the least stressful nursing positions include:
- Telemedicine nurse: Allows nurses to provide care for patients from the comfort of their own homes.
- Nurse educator: Gives nurses the ability to apply their knowledge and expertise without the stress of patient care.
- School or summer camp nurse: Great career path for nurses who enjoy working with kids in an educational setting.
- Nurse administrator: By simply focusing on the administrative side of nursing (schedules, organizing records, budgeting, etc.), nurse administrators are able to take advantage of their hospital expertise without the daily stress of bedside care.
What Are the Least Stressful Physician Jobs?
A few of the least stressful physician positions include:
- Dermatology: Dermatologists are typically able to set their own office hours, making it a good choice for those who prioritize a work-life balance.
- Pathology: Pathologists investigate diseases and act as consultants to other physicians, making it a perfect field for problem solvers who don't want a lot of patient interaction.
- Ophthalmology: Like dermatologists, ophthalmologists are able to set a fixed number of office hours and build long-term patient relationships.
Which Military Jobs Are Least Stressful?
Some low-stress careers in the military, that also transfer directly to the civilian sector, include:
- Information technology specialist
- Dental hygienist
- Auto mechanic
- Administrative assistant
What Are the Least Stressful Professional Jobs?
Some of the least stressful professional jobs include:
- Dental hygienist: Dental hygienists, who clean patients' teeth and educate them about proper oral hygiene, typically work a fixed number of office hours.
- Speech therapist: Speech therapists diagnose and treat speech disorders while working relatively flexible office hours.
- Occupational therapist: Occupational therapists help ill, disabled, and injured patients deal with the challenges of everyday life.
What Are the Least Stressful Jobs that Pay $100K?
Some of the least stressful jobs that pay a minimum of $100K annually include:
- Software developer: Software developers conceive of and build computer programs and apps. The median annual pay is $107,510
- Data scientist: Data scientists create algorithms used to extract insights from data. The median annual salary for data scientists is $126,830.
- Actuary: Actuaries crunch numbers and make sense of raw data, providing a low-stress career for those who love math and statistics. The median salary for actuaries is $108.350.
The Bottom Line
While all jobs carry a certain degree of stress, some offer a more positive work-life balance than others. And there are many full-time jobs available in booming sectors offering less stress but good benefits and pay in various industries.
For those keen to embrace a low-stress career and enjoy a fulfilling home life, one option may be to seek job roles within thriving and prosperous industries, like the ones listed above.