The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 hit workers with a two-punch strike, as mental and physical stress, overwhelmed many households. In 2021, the U.S. economy is rebounding from the financial hits. But after a year of challenging work environments, some job seekers are evaluating how much stress they want on the job.

Even before the pandemic hit, working parents, in particular, were struggling to balance life and work, as technology has made it easier for everyone to be "on-call" at work, even when they are at home. FlexJobs surveyed parents in 2019 and found that their work-life balance stressed 37% of the respondents. And 86% responded that work conflicted with taking care of their health.

Research on 2020 has shown that both remote and on-site employees are burnt out. And as the global pandemic continues to impact the economy, employment, and education, some workers are seeking lower-stress jobs.

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 a new low-stress job with a decent salary and job security, there are opportunities in many fields.

Key Takeaways

  • 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.

10 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.

However, non-stressful jobs, according to CareerCast, provide decent salaries without physical risks to one's self or others, 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 10 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 2020.

1. Data Scientist

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 15% by 2029, so prospects for new hires are excellent. You will need a master's degree to command the data scientist's median annual salary of $126,830.

2. Dietitian

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 median pay for a dietitian is $60,090, according to the BLS figures for 2020.

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

The health sector is widely associated with pressurized jobs, long hours, and highly challenging working conditions, especially during pandemics. One health care 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. This job boasts a modest median annual salary of $44,090, reflecting the low level of responsibility associated with the role. 

4. Massage Therapist

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.

Licensed massage therapists can work in a variety of settings, including spas, clinics, or for themselves. 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. This job pays a median annual salary of $42,620.

5. Appliance Repairer

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 $40,850. If you specialize and grow your skillset, you may be able to earn more. According to figures from the BLS, the top 10% earn nearly $70,000 a year.

6. Librarian

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, and you may only need a bachelor's degree to get an excellent job in this field.

7. Diagnostic Medical Stenographer

Diagnostic medical sonographers operate special imaging equipment to conduct medical tests or create images. Diagnostic medical stenographers often work in medical and diagnostic laboratories, hospitals, or medical offices. As of 2020, the median pay for this low-stress job that only calls for an associate's degree is $70,380.

8. University Professor

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 cites that the annual median income is $80,790. 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

Hairstylists interact with the public, an indicator for stress on the job by CareerCast, but this job ranks as low pressure. Stylists may work for themselves or a salon owner, 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 $27,670, but you can often set your hours or work non-traditional hours.

10. Compliance Officer

A compliance offer is responsible for ensuring companies comply with legal and regulatory requirements, internal policies, and bylaws. According to the BLS, this job has a median annual salary of $71,100, and multiple industries like finance, environmental, and manufacturing hire compliance officers.

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.