Top 10 Low-Stress Jobs That Pay Well

Best Career Options for Avoiding Stress at Work

Text reads: "Top low-stress, high-paying jobs: mathematician; actuary; technical writer; hair stylist; dietician or nutritionist; speech-language pathologist"

Image by Grace Kim © The Balance 2019

You've probably heard the expression, "Do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life"? For some people, this is a reality. Certainly, given the choice, most of us would prefer to work at jobs that are good for our souls, as well as our bank accounts.

That said, even a beloved job can be rough if it eats all your time and energy to the point of burnout. For these reasons, it's useful to consider the relative stress levels of various occupations, when you're contemplating a change to a new career path.

If you're looking to eliminate some of the stress in your life, consider one of these low-stress jobs that pay well.

Top Low-Stress, High-Paying Jobs

The following jobs were referenced in the CareerCast Jobs Rated Report and rated as featuring low or very low levels of stress for employees. Information on average salary and employment outlook is furnished through the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Keep in mind that whatever might be stressful on average for other people might be different in your case.

Carefully research the challenges of any career in light of your unique personality and lifestyle before finalizing any decision about your career path. What's most important is to find a job that's the best fit for your professional and personal circumstances—and that's a job you enjoy working at.

1. Actuary

Do you love math and statistics and want to work a relatively low-stress, 9-to-5 job? You might be happy as an actuary. Your responsibilities involve looking at numbers, finding correlations, drawing conclusions, and presenting your findings. Actuaries often work for insurance companies, analyzing risk, and helping their employers minimize costs. They also work for a variety of investment firms, including banks and financial advisors. The profession is expected to grow 18% by 2029, much faster than average.

  • Median Pay: $108,350
  • Typical Education: Bachelor's Degree

2. Audiologist

If you want to help people, and you don't mind investing in several years of postgraduate education, audiologist might be the perfect job for you. Audiologists diagnose hearing loss and other inner ear problems. It's a good-paying job, earning a median salary of over $77,000 per year.

  • Median Pay: $77,600
  • Typical Education: Doctoral or Professional Degree

3. Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists treat ill, injured, or disabled clients and help them to cope with their limitations as they go about daily living. They help patients to solve practical problems related to their physical and psychological challenges.

Demand for occupational therapists is bolstered by the growing older segment of the population and their challenges due to diminishing capacities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the field will expand by 16% through 2029.

  • Median Pay: $84,950
  • Typical Education: Master's Degree 

4. Operations Research Analyst

Operations research analysts gather and analyze data about organizational processes to help solve problems and assess trends. They create simulations and mathematical models to help managers to make decisions about organizational strategy. Jobs are expected to grow at a much faster than average rate of 25% through 2029 as organizations increasingly base decisions on data analysis.

  • Median Pay: $84,810
  • Typical Education: Bachelor's Degree

5. Software Developer

Software developers create computer applications and systems to facilitate information processing for users of technology. They combine creativity with logical thinking to devise appealing and efficient software solutions. Trends towards the proliferation of apps and the automation of business and consumer functions underpin rapid growth of 22% through 2029 for software developers.

  • Median Pay: $107,510
  • Typical Education: Bachelor's Degree, though some developers are self-taught or complete intensive code writing programs.

6. Genetic Counselor

Genetic counselors assess the genetic make-up of clients and advise them about the likelihood of disease development or birth defects for themselves or their offspring. Advances in technology and methods for predicting genetic outcomes have spurred growth in the field with expectations that the field will expand by 21% through 2029. 

  • Median Pay: $81,880
  • Typical Education: Master's Degree

7. Dental Hygienist

Dental Hygienists clean teeth, educate patients about proper dental hygiene, conduct preliminary assessments of emerging dental issues, take x-rays, and assist dentists with procedures. Solid growth of 6% is expected through 2029 as the population ages.

  • Median Pay: $76,220
  • Typical Education: Associate Degree

8. Data Scientist

Computer and information research scientists create algorithms that are used to identify and analyze patterns in very large datasets. They uncover trends in data to help managers to plan the direction of future services and product developments. The increased reliance by organizations on the collection and analysis of data is expected to enhance growth in the field by 15% through 2029.

  • Median Pay: $122,840
  • Typical Education: Master's Degree

9. Speech Language Pathologist

Speech Language Pathologists (or Speech Therapists) diagnose and treat all manner of speech and swallowing disorders. Speech Therapists typically need a master's degree and licensure in their state in order to practice. As a speech therapist, you would be expected to work with children and adults. You might be helping a patient overcome a speech impediment, use proper terminology to better express thoughts and feelings, or even help someone speak who doesn't speak at all. This occupation is expected to grow by 25% through 2029 as the aging population experiences ailments like strokes and dementia.

  • Median Pay: $79,120
  • Typical Education: Master's Degree

10. Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapists administer radiation treatments to cancer and other patients. They calibrate and operate equipment and take safety precautions. Therapists explain treatments to patients and monitor adverse reactions. Jobs are expected to increase by about 7% through 2029, since aging populations experience a greater incidence of cancer.

  • Median Pay: $85,560
  • Typical Education: Associate Degree