Not everyone thrives under pressure, but often high-stress careers reap the biggest rewards. Fortunately, though, this doesn’t always have to be true — and that might be better for you and the company for which you work.
A 2016 study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health revealed that 44 percent of adults said their current job affected their overall health. Only 28 percent felt that effect was positive.
You don’t necessarily have to choose between financial remuneration and enjoying your job, though of course sometimes you do have to look for a change before you find a job with the right balance. If you’re thinking that it may be time to break out of the daily grind — there are many fun and high-paying jobs that don't have the tension that comes with a demanding role. And that might be better for you in more ways than one.
Here are 27 fun and lower-stress career paths to consider.
Average Annual Salary: $81,030
To become an audiologist, you need to study for a doctorate and obtain a license to practice. But once you do, you’re in for a career that’s challenging and rewarding without any unnecessary stress. Audiologists diagnose patients’ hearing-related problems and fit them with hearing aids. They might also help conduct research in the field.
2. Art Director
Average Annual Salary: $97,270
Not everyone has the eye for art, but you’re in luck if you do. An art director’s job doesn’t take place in a museum, but behind the scenes in creative industries such as advertising, magazine publishing, and TV production. They make sure everything’s appealing to the eye — and sometimes they earn a six-figure salary for it. You either need a bachelor’s degree or impeccable taste.
3. Dental Hygienist
Average Annual Salary: $77,090
If you’ve ever been to the dentist, you know what a hygienist’s job entails. They clean your teeth and do the first round of examinations to see if you’re suffering from any oral disease. You only need an associate degree to take on this role, so switching careers wouldn’t be too much of an undertaking. Plus, according to research by Vista College, the field has a reputation for providing a good work-life balance, which means you’ll have more time to focus on personal affairs.
Average Annual Salary: $93,580
Despite what you might’ve learned in high school science classes, a geologist does much more than look at rocks all day. They also examine and predict the earth’s movement, studying the effects it has — earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and floods included. The amount of time spent in the field exploring will prove this is a fun job that pays well.
5. Food Technologist
Average Annual Salary: $80,190
It’s all about flavor for food technologists. They research and analyze everything we eat and find ways to make it taste better and last longer in storage. They’re also responsible for ensuring that products pass the sanitation requirements set by the government and maintain their nutritional content. All these requirements might seem stressful, but food technologists work within a calm, pleasant lab setting, therefore making it a challenging but relaxed role.
Average Annual Salary: $60,820
Think about it — a library is a quiet place for people to read, study, and research. That means a librarian’s work environment is relaxing and calm. The responsibilities of a librarian are soothing, too — cataloging books, checking them in and out, and occasionally helping people find a particular title are enjoyable tasks.
Plus, you don’t have to work in a high-traffic school or public library — healthcare facilities, museums, businesses, and government offices have libraries that need someone in charge, too.
7. Technical Writer
Average Annual Salary: $74,650
All the stress that comes with being a writer — namely, coming up with original, entertaining ideas — is nonexistent in the world of technical writing. Instead, technical writers have a product that needs an instruction manual or another corresponding piece of literature. It’s up to them to write about how it works in the simplest of terms. You might need some expertise in the field depending on the complexity of the product or service you’re describing.
Average Annual Salary: $145,689
Crunching numbers on your own? There’s nothing less stressful than that. It’s up to a biostatistician to use these figures to analyze and better understand the results of biological research or other natural processes.
Average Annual Salary: $118,050
To become a doctor of optometry, you’ll have to go back to school and earn state-level licensure, but the result is worth the while. Optometrists diagnose and treat all issues about the eye, and those in the field experience little stress in doing so. The medical field might seem like a space that’s inherently stressful, but once you go through your intensive eye-related training, you’ll feel confident and calm in your expertise.
10. Radiologic Technologist
Average Annual Salary: $61,900
In a similar vein, working as a radiologic technologist is a relatively low-stress option in the realm of healthcare. You only need an associate’s degree and an ability to chat and comfort patients as they undergo X-rays or CAT scans. Although there are lots of these to do in a hospital setting, you’ll find that getting into a routine, even if it’s job-related, can diffuse a lot of your stress. Finding a routine is one of the best stress management techniques.
Average Annual Salary: $111,030
The road to becoming an actuary is somewhat long, as you need a bachelor’s degree and have to pass a series of exams to earn the title. But once you have it, you’ll be earning a healthy salary and using your knowledge to create insurance plans that are well-maintained.
Average Annual Salary: $63,090
There’s so much satisfaction that comes with being a dietician because you get to help clients grow healthier and achieve their goals along the way. Dieticians provide tips on how a person can change their diet to shed excess weight or help them create a meal plan that won’t exacerbate a pre-existing health problem such as diabetes or high cholesterol. You need at least a degree in the science field, as well as natural communication skills to talk sympathetically and honestly to patients.
13. Software Developer
Average Annual Salary: $110,140
Here’s another job you’ll enjoy if you prefer to work solo. The computer programmer’s position is certainly challenging, but they also tackle issues and coding problems with their expertise.
Plus, because the job is so rigorous, associates will know how hard your work is and respect you for your output — in other words, there won’t be constant pressure to speed up and perform at higher than your capacity. This career can lead you to other fruitful careers as a designer, senior developer, or project manager, too.
14. Postsecondary Teacher
Average Annual Salary: $80,560
Depending on the subject you teach, you can make more money than the figure quoted above. Of course, fun jobs that pay well aren’t about the money — they’re about the way you’ll feel while working them. And postsecondary teachers have low-stress levels as they impart wisdom to college-level students, whether they’re teaching law, economics, or psychology.
Average Annual Salary: $84,040
Much like a geologist, a hydrologist spends a ton of time in the field to do their job. But rather than studying the movement and makeup of rocks, they’re looking at the way water moves across the Earth. This knowledge can help them solve major issues in areas where water quality or water levels are low.
16. Operations Research Analyst
Average Annual Salary: $86,200
You might need a high-level degree — think Ph.D. or master’s — to become an operations research analyst, but it’s worth it. You’ll need to know complex mathematical and analytical applications and put them to good use for a business. In most cases, operations research analysts help to identify internal issues, make more thoughtful decisions and investigate any lingering problems. You may need to brush up on your analytical skills.
17. Materials Engineer
Average Annual Salary: $95,640
Materials engineers have a hand in the entire production process of a certain item. They help create the necessary machinery, write the processes and choose the proper materials to make a product meet all its design and performance standards. A bachelor’s degree in engineering or materials science will be your ticket into the field, although you could get in with a related specialization.
Average Annual Salary: $85,430
Once you have a Master’s degree, the field of geography is waiting for you. Geographers use their knowledge of the Earth’s surface as they research different regions of the world and try to forecast the impact humans will have on areas. They might also look more generally at the different natural conditions and ways they’re used across the planet.
Average Annual Salary: $110,860
Once you’re a math expert, you’re not necessarily required to become a teacher. Instead, mathematicians can work for the government or private sector and use analytical skills to fix issues in management, science, and other areas. Mathematicians can also fill research roles.
20. Computer Hardware Engineer
Average Annual Salary: $119,560
You can get your start in this field after graduating with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited course. Computer hardware engineers can help in all processes in the creation of computer-related equipment — they design, research, build, develop or test these products. Their creations could end up in the hands of commercial users, scientists, military officials, or other industrial workers.
Average Annual Salary: $208,000
Smile! Orthodontists know how to straighten smiles and realign jaws with orthodontic hardware. They must choose the right equipment to do so, apply it, and check the progress throughout a person’s time with braces. Both orthodontists and their patients feel satisfied when they see the resulting grins that come from their handiwork. In fact, performing with purpose could be the key to job satisfaction across all industries.
Average Annual Salary: $129,850
Perhaps unsurprisingly, you can make a pretty low-stress career out of looking at the sky. Of course, an astronomer’s job is more than just stargazing, but their research and analysis of the universe’s phenomena allow them to stare into space regularly. It’ll be awe-inspiring, and useful — you can apply your findings to the practical problems faced day-to-day down here on Earth.
Average Annual Salary: $129,850
It takes some time to become a professional physicist since you’ll need a Ph.D. to obtain a research job in most cases. But once physicists finish their degrees, they get the chance to research, observe and experiment to come up with their own theories about different types of physical happenings. All of this takes place in the calm confines of a scientific laboratory, where they can really focus and delve into their studies.
24. Political Scientist
Average Annual Salary: $125,350
Not every low-stress job requires you to be a scientist in the traditional sense. Instead, you can make politics your focus. How do particular systems of thought start and grow? How do they operate? It’s a political scientist’s job to answer those questions once they have a higher-level degree in the subject or a related area.
25. Biomedical Engineer
Average Annual Salary: $92,620
With a four-year degree in the subject — or with an engineering degree in a related field combined with on-the-job training — you can head into the field of biomedical engineering. It’s a rewarding one, too — biomedical engineers tackle issues faced in the healthcare field, and their expertise helps improve patient care throughout the treatment process.
26. Environmental Scientist
Average Annual Salary: $73,230
Passionate about the environment? A career as an environmental scientist could be the path for you. These STEM professionals study environmental conditions and use their knowledge to improve conditions for the natural world and human beings.
27. Database Architect
Average Annual Salary: $101,090
Toward the goal of helping businesses attain solid infrastructures and meet their goals, database architects design and create structures like databases, networks, and data warehouses. They also provide standards and documentation to the business for which they're working, whether a client or their employer.
Chart Your Course
Surprisingly, these aren’t your only options when it comes to low-stress, high-paying jobs — in other words, you still might find the path for you outside of these 27 positions. No matter what, once you discover the job that pays you right and makes you feel good, go for it. That’s exactly where you’re meant to be.
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