Top 15 Low-Stress Jobs in 2021
When contemplating careers, it is worth considering the relative stress levels of different occupations.
Whilst people manage and cope with stress differently, highly stressful occupations can rapidly lead to burnout.
These roles consume all your time and energy, damaging your emotional wellbeing.
There are careers out there that provide a great balance between salary and quality of life.
These are low-stress, high-paying jobs – and they do exist!
Whilst every job comes with its own challenges, and no job can ever be 100% stress-free, some roles are less likely to trigger a stress response.
These jobs may be considered low stress because of the nature of the physical work environment, the tasks they involve or the career culture.
They do not involve the draining cumulative pressures of a consistently fast-paced environment.
Many low-stress high-paid occupations are low key and flexible, yet intellectually fulfilling.
Most of us spend at least eight hours a day working, which means exposure to stress at work can have a huge impact on our lives.
Low-stress jobs that pay well take some of the pressure away from the necessity of making money.
Most high-paying jobs that provide a low-stress work environment do, however, require extensive education and training.
If a low-stress but rewarding career appeals, it is worth planning your career direction carefully.
Why Does Stress at Work Matter?
Stress is an emotional strain or tension resulting from circumstances and pressures.
Stress at work can have both mental and physical manifestations, negatively impacting your life beyond the workplace.
Whilst small amounts of stress can help to improve focus and productivity through limited pressure, overly stressful jobs can leave employees feeling dissatisfied, burnt out or overwhelmed.
An occupation that places individuals in repeatedly stressful situations can lead to tension, anxiety or depression over the long term.
It is important to safeguard your mental health at home and work, so taking stock of how your career is impacting your mood and emotions is recommended.
Stress at work can come from several different causes:
- The nature of the work itself
- The environment in which it is performed
- Factors such as company culture
- Your relationships with work colleagues
People are triggered by different stressors and can tolerate different levels of stress or discomfort at work. Pay attention to your triggers and limits and, if possible, seek to manage your exposure to them.
The term ‘low-stress job’ is subjective, as people will have different situational reactions and stress thresholds.
Overall, though, a low-stress job will involve fewer of the common triggers for anxiety. It should allow you to compartmentalize your work life and reclaim the balance needed for a healthy life.
For more tips on maintaining a healthy work-life balance see our dedicated article.
Top 15 Low-Stress High-Paying Jobs
If the idea of a low-stress yet high-paying job sounds appealing to you, check out our list of the top 15 jobs below.
These won’t have your stress levels rising through the roof daily and provide a healthy paycheck.
Median pay statistics sourced through the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
1. Environmental Scientist
Estimated salary: $71,360
Minimum qualifications needed: Bachelor’s degree; master’s degree in environmental science (or related discipline)
Environmental scientists seek to protect the biodiversity and features of the natural environment.
Not only is this important for the conservation and restoration of our natural spaces, but it helps to preserve the multifaceted benefits our green and blue landscapes bring, such as their impact on human health and wellbeing.
Environmental science encompasses knowledge from biological and physical sciences, covering areas such as ecology, oceanography, geology, physical geography, atmospheric science, marine and terrestrial biology, plant science, physics, and chemistry.
Environmental scientists are also required to have strong communication skills.
The role involves writing research proposals that convince funders of the importance of the work and compiling reports to share their research with regulators, companies and the general public.
Estimated salary: $63,680
Minimum qualifications needed: Bachelor’s degree; master’s degree; most research positions require a doctoral degree.
Historians study the past through analyzing and interpreting historical sources.
They conduct research to analyze, interpret and communicate insights.
Historians tend to specialize in a particular area (selected from a variety of scales); for example, an event, community, time period, population, geographic region, social phenomenon or movement.
They are commonly considered to be an authority on their chosen subject.
Historians are concerned with how things fit into the continuous historical narrative, in terms of humanity and historiography itself.
Historians tend to work as researchers in the university or museum sectors.
The work is often meticulous and requires a real passion for a historical specialism, satisfying curiosity through intellectual exploration.
3. Data Scientist
Estimated salary: $122,840
Minimum qualifications needed: Bachelor’s degree; master’s degree in computer science (or a related discipline).
Data scientists analyze large datasets to uncover insights and trends.
This information helps companies and organizations to react to the landscape; for example regarding product development or service provision from consumer demand.
The roles available are extremely diverse as there is a huge amount of data to be interpreted in almost every sector.
The role involves patience and a significant amount of time sat at your computer writing and running code.
It suits those with a curious mindset, as data scientists help to find answers through making data insights visible to clients, policymakers or the general public.
4. Occupational Therapist
Estimated salary: $84,950
Minimum qualifications needed: Bachelor’s degree; graduate program in occupational therapy (accredited by the Council for Occupational Therapy Education)
Occupational therapists are healthcare professionals who help their patients tackle disability, whether caused by injury, illness or aging.
They aim to help people to carry out their daily routines and roles by thinking around and overcoming barriers.
Occupational therapy considers both physical and mental health, empowering people in their recovery and facilitating their independence and satisfaction with life.
It also takes into account a patient’s social and environmental needs.
Occupational therapy is a rewarding career in which you can make a significant difference in patients’ lives by supporting their ability to perform the everyday tasks that are of importance to them.
An occupational therapist helps their clients to create a renewed sense of purpose, identity and optimism for the future.
Estimated salary: $122,220
Minimum qualifications needed: Bachelor’s degree; postgraduate degree (to work in research and academia)
Physicists and astronomers research the interaction between energy and matter.
They work to develop new theories and models through conducting experiments and using computer modeling to analyze existing data.
Some physicists apply their knowledge for practical benefits, such as developing new materials or medical equipment.
Most work in laboratories or observatories conducting and publishing their academic research for universities.
This means a significant proportion of time is given to writing funding proposals to enable research, preparing scientific papers to be published in academic journals and presenting findings at conferences.
They may also teach undergraduate or postgraduate students through lecturing responsibilities.
There are also jobs available for physicists within companies and the government.
Estimated salary: $115,250
Minimum qualifications needed: Bachelor’s degree; Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree; license to practice (issued in the relevant state)
An optometrist diagnoses and treats conditions related to the eyes.
Their role is to preserve and improve the eyesight of their patients, whether addressing the gradual deterioration of eyesight through testing and issuing new lens prescriptions, or by tackling the impacts of disease or injury.
Optometrists tend to work within optometry practices or run their own businesses.
They may also work within hospitals, doctor’s surgeries or optical stores.
Though some emergency appointments may be required, the role tends to have regular hours set by an appointment schedule.
Postgraduate optometry degrees take four years to complete, so qualifying as an optometrist is an investment of both time and money. It is, however, a rewarding career that has a positive impact on the lives of patients.
7. Applications/Systems Software Developer
Estimated salary: $107,510
Minimum qualifications needed: Bachelor’s degree (in a relevant subject)
Software developers are involved in the design and creation of applications, computer systems or network infrastructure.
They oversee the software development process, often working alongside a team of programmers.
Developers seek to design optimal products or upgrades, informed by the needs of the end-user.
After launching the software, they track data on the performance of the application/system, collect and analyze feedback on user experience, and are responsible for any necessary adjustments or additions to the code.
They are also responsible for ongoing maintenance and testing.
They may work within technology companies or on a freelance basis.
Estimated salary: $49,850
Minimum qualifications needed: Bachelor’s degree; master’s degree (in a field related to the position)
A curator or archivist manages an institution’s collections. These may be artifacts of anthropological or zoological significance, such as ceramics and artwork or fossils and species remains.
Tasks include organizing and classifying archival materials, creating or maintaining electronic records, acquiring new materials, raising the profile of the collection, and arranging and designing exhibits.
The role may also encompass conducting research projects.
A curator tends to focus on the acquisition, storage and exhibition stages, whilst an archivist is predominantly focused on preservation.
Role responsibilities can differ depending on the type of organization.
Curators and archivists may work within museums, universities, government, charities or companies.
9. Atmospheric Scientist/Meteorologist
Estimated salary: $95,380
Minimum qualifications needed: Bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science (or a closely related field); academic research scientists will require a master’s degree or a Ph.D.
A meteorologist studies and predicts the weather and climate, tracking the impacts on the earth and human activity.
They may work in forecasting, data collection and compilation, developing monitoring instruments, or in managing the risk posed by weather events.
The work relies heavily on data interpretation, with atmospheric scientists using computer models to analyze meteorological data and supporting the creation of new programs to assist in this modeling.
To make this data accessible to clients or the public, they generate graphics – such as maps and charts – from weather data. They also prepare long and short-term weather forecasts so appropriate safeguarding action can be taken.
They may work for a weather station, laboratory, university or consultancy.
Fieldwork could also be a component of the job, depending on the nature of the role.
Estimated salary: $70,340
Minimum qualifications needed: Bachelor’s degree; Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree from an accredited chiropractic college; license to practice (most states accept certification from the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners to grant a license).
A chiropractor helps treat patients with muscular and skeletal ailments. These are most commonly associated with pain of the back and neck, but many chiropractors work beyond musculoskeletal issues.
A chiropractor manipulates the joints in order to rectify misalignments and relieve pain. They may specialize in treating different age groups (for example, geriatrics or pediatrics) or the rehabilitation of sports injuries.
Chiropractors may work in a hospital, for private practice or be self-employed. Most chiropractors work on an appointment basis with regular hours and low stress.
A postgraduate chiropractic qualification takes four years to complete, so it is a career that involves considerable investment in study. It is, however, well paid and fulfilling.
11. Dental Hygienist
Estimated salary: $76,220
Minimum qualifications needed: Associate’s degree in dental hygiene; license to practice (check requirements according to state, most require training to be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation)
A dental hygienist works to maintain and improve oral health. They provide deep cleaning to remove plaque, stains and prevent decay or disease.
The role is technical as hygienists use specialist tools to make sure the teeth, gums and mouth stay healthy.
They educate patients on good oral hygiene and adjustments they can make to their daily routine. A hygienist may also take x-rays, tooth impressions and update patient records.
A degree to become a dental hygienist takes between two to three years to complete, but hours are regular, the pay is good and stress is low.
Estimated salary: $61,270
Minimum qualifications needed: Bachelor’s degree; master’s degree, accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)
Dieticians help people to interpret and implement scientific and medical guidance around food and health.
Dieticians are qualified health professionals who can identify and treat malnutrition caused by disease, disorder or allergy.
They work with cases of varying severity, supporting patients to recover after an illness or cope with an eating disorder, as well as aiding loss of weight and athletic performance.
They may be based in a hospital or work for a private practice. Salary levels will differ accordingly.
Dieticians have a positive impact on their patient’s lives, helping them to overcome medical challenges or reach their personal nutrition goals.
Estimated salary: $77,600
Minimum qualifications needed: Bachelor’s degree; doctoral degree; license to practice (requirements differ depending on state but institutions often need to be accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association).
Audiologists diagnose and treat issues with hearing and balance or related disorders (such as hearing loss or tinnitus).
There is a range of fields in which to specialize, such as auditory rehabilitation, implants and pediatrics (including newborn).
Daily tasks as an audiologist may include investigating symptoms, checking a patient’s hearing, or fitting, testing or repairing hearing devices.
It is a fulfilling job that tends to have regular hours (between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.) and provides an opportunity to improve the quality of patients’ lives.
Audiologists may work for a public hospital, or in private hospitals or practices. Remuneration and working hours will differ accordingly.
14. Speech-Language Pathologist
Estimated salary: $79,120
Minimum qualifications needed: Bachelor’s degree; master’s degree; license to practice (requirements differ depending on state)
A speech-language pathologist, or speech therapist, helps children and adults to overcome communication or swallowing disorders.
The role includes the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of conditions. These include problems with the rhythm of speech, issues with fluency or the inability to pronounce certain sounds.
These issues may be present in children or arise in adults who have suffered a medical emergency or trauma which has impacted their speech, such as a stroke.
A speech-language pathologist may work in a school or healthcare environment, such as within a hospital.
Like the other medical roles included on this list, the role requires significant study.
It does, however, provide an opportunity to have an impact on the daily lives of patients whilst working in a low-stress, appointment-based setting with regular work hours.
15. Solar Energy Engineer
Estimated salary: $87,060
Minimum qualifications needed: Bachelor’s degree (in mechanical or electrical engineering or similar); postgraduate qualification may be required for some specialist positions; many roles require a Professional Engineer (PE) license
Solar energy engineers plan, design and implement solar energy installations for commercial, industrial or residential use.
The scale of the projects they oversee varies according to company and role.
The working process involves client consultations, site assessments (to determine viability and assess optimal design), financial assessments, plan design and implementation.
After installation, monitoring of the project’s efficiency, cost and safety will take place.
As well as overseeing project operation, solar engineers may also be responsible for subsequent maintenance such as scheduled checks, upgrades or fixing systems outages.
As displayed by the list above, there are a great number of job roles – in a variety of sectors – that offer high remuneration for carrying out duties that are considered relatively low stress.
Healthcare, science, technology, engineering and the arts all have rewarding careers that provide a good work-life balance and minimize anxiety and stress.
Most of these have regular hours or work to an appointment schedule, so time dedicated to work is structured and anticipated.
They are also intellectually stimulating careers, many of which provide a chance to work directly with people, helping to solve medical, business or industrial problems.
The qualifications needed are often substantial, but this should not deter individuals from following one of these worthwhile, fulfilling and lower stress paths.