32 High-Paying Low-Stress Jobs

There are two universal truths when it comes to work:

  1. We like to make money, and
  2. We don’t like to be stressed out.

You might be thinking there’s no job out there that would afford you both of these luxuries. You might even be happy to just consider a position that gives you one or the other.

Well, the good news is that you can have both.

In fact, the following 32 jobs are known to be equal parts low-stress and high-paying. The stress rankings rely on stress-tolerance data gathered from the Occupational Information Network: the lower the number, the less stress you’ll feel on the job. Of course, not every job is going to be stress-free, but the ones on the list are certainly lower than other positions known to spike your blood pressure big-time.

We can then pair this stress information with salary data in order to compile a list. As you peruse the list, you might find that a stress-free job will require a career change which, of course, is a big step — but not an impossible one. If you’re happier at the end of the day, one of these fields might just be worth the leap.

What are you waiting for? Here are the 32 best jobs if you want to de-stress at work while padding out your wallet. In other words, let’s find you a career win-win.

1. Fuel Cell Engineer

Stress Level: 53
Average Annual Salary:
~$88,000
Education Level: Minimum bachelor’s degree, although many jobs require a master’s or Ph.D.

Job Description: Fuel cell engineers need quite a bit of education in order to work with fuel cell components or systems, but the payout plus minimal stress might just be worth it.

2. Materials Scientist

Stress Level: 53
Average Annual Salary:
~$95,000
Education Level: Minimum bachelor’s degree, although many research jobs require a master’s or Ph.D.

Job Description: Materials scientists know how atoms and molecules work and they use that knowledge to improve the products we already know and love. Sounds fulfilling, right?

3. Mathematician

Stress Level: 57
Average Annual Salary:
~$113,000
Education Level: Bachelor’s or master’s to work in the public sector; doctorate often required for the private sector.

Job Description: Let’s crunch some numbers: You can make more than six figures by applying your mathematical knowledge to science and management, among other fields. Simply put, you can solve tough math problems for big companies — for a big payout.

4. Geographer

Stress Level: 58
Average Annual Salary:
~$75,000
Education Level: Entry-level government positions require a bachelor’s, but most other positions require a master’s.

Job Description: Geography is so much more than maps, hence the big paycheck. As a geographer, you could work for the federal government, for example, and give leaders an idea of how human expansion will affect a particular area. You can also opt for a more traditional route, learning about the Earth’s surface and the attributes that make your region special.

5. Economist

Stress Level: 59
Average Annual Salary:
~$109,000
Education Level: Bachelor’s degree

Job Description: You only need a bachelor’s degree to make the big bucks as an economist. Once you learn about supply and demand, you can use that in companies across the board, helping them better produce and dole out their goods and services.

6. Statistician

Stress Level: 59
Average Annual Salary:
~$84,000
Education Level: Graduate degree, usually

Job Description: Equally as nonstressful as an economist’s job, statisticians use tried-and-true statistical evaluations to help solve problems. Statisticians can find work in a slew of different fields, as many companies rely on in-depth analysis in order to make decisions.

7. Agricultural Engineer

Stress Level: 61
Average Annual Salary:
~$75,000
Education Level: Bachelor’s degree

Job Description: There’s no harm in loving food and, as an agricultural engineer, you will have a hand in making sure everyone has food that’s well-produced and sustainably harvested. Yum.

8. Political Scientist

Stress Level: 61
Average Annual Salary:
~$103,000
Education Level: Bachelor’s degree in the subject, as well as a master’s or Ph.D. in political science or a related field

Job Description: Flip open any newspaper and you’ll probably find a politically charged headline on the front page. As a political scientist, it’ll be your job to digest all of this and explain it to the rest of us — clearly, there will be plenty of work out there for you, too.

9. Materials Engineer

Stress Level: 61
Average Annual Salary:
~$95,000
Education Level: Bachelor’s degree

Job Description: A materials engineer develops the machinery and materials needed to make more materials. It sounds vague, but the work is very precise and must meet very specific production and performance criteria.

10. Biomedical Engineer

Stress Level: 61
Average Annual Salary:
~$91,000
Education Level: Bachelor’s degree in the subject or a bachelor’s degree in engineering, plus either a focused graduate degree or on-the-job training

Job Description: This job will suit you if you like helping others while helping yourself to a less stressful career. You’ll be tasked with solving problems that go onto improve patient care and the quality of that care.

11. Physicist

Stress Level: 61
Average Annual Salary:
~$119,000
Education Level: Ph.D. for a research job

Job Description: If you’ve ever wondered how the physical world works the way it does, then this might just be the job for you. You’ll perform experiments to better understand physical phenomena and perhaps even come up with your own laws and theories.

12. Postsecondary Economics Teacher

Stress Level: 62
Average Annual Salary:
~$72,000
Education Level: Perhaps just a master’s, although most positions require a Ph.D.

Job Description: It’s pretty clear what a college-level economics professor does, right? You’ll have to figure out how to make your subject matter understood and engaging but, with your Ph.D. in hand, it shouldn’t be a big deal.

13. Astronomer

Stress Level: 62
Average Annual Salary:
~$110,000
Education Level: Ph.D. if you want to be a researcher

Job Description: This job is not to be confused with astrologist: In other words, you won’t be writing anyone’s horoscopes anytime soon. Once you have a Ph.D. — and a well-paid research position — you will explore what’s happening in the astronomical atmosphere and make us all aware of your findings. You’ll make the world smarter, which seems like a pretty rewarding job to have.

14. Geoscientist

Stress Level: 63
Average Annual Salary:
~$106,000
Education Level: A bachelor’s degree plus a state-issued license, depending on where you live

Job Description: A geoscientist studies the Earth’s composition and structure, as well as its diverse physical attributes.

15. Postsecondary Law Teacher

Stress Level: 63
Average Annual Salary:
~$126,000
Education Level: A bachelor’s degree plus a law degree, of course

Job Description: This one’s pretty clear, too: teach future lawyers about the law.

16. Operations Research Analyst

Stress Level: 63
Average Annual Salary:
~$84,000
Education Level: There are plenty of entry-level positions if you have a bachelor’s, but you might find some companies hesitant to hire you without a higher degree than that.

Job Description: You might see a trend starting to develop among the jobs on this list, and operations research analysis is no exception to the rule. As the name implies, this position will require you to analyze how organizations target particular issues. Your work will then help them better handle problems in the present and future.

17. Actuary

Stress Level: 64
Average Annual Salary:
~$111,000
Education Level: Bachelor’s degree, plus a handful of certification exams

Job Description: For $111K, all you have to do is figure out what the financial costs could be surrounding a particular risk. Sounds easy enough, but there’s a lot of math skills involved. As you can see, the stress ante is getting a bit higher as we get down the list.

18. Computer and Information Systems Manager

Stress Level: 64
Average Annual Salary:
~$141,000
Education Level: Bachelor’s degree

Job Description: Once you’re hired, you’ll be tasked with understanding your company’s technological shortcomings and goals for the future. Then, you’ll fix those shortcomings and come up with the system required to achieve those goals.

19. Applications Software Developer

Stress Level: 66
Average Annual Salary:
~$102,000
Education Level: Bachelor’s degree and computer programming skills

Job Description: It should come as no surprise that designing computer programs and applications is a big field today and will likely continue to be in the future. Jump in now and start developing and building your own software, as well as fixing glitches in others’ creations.

20. Hydrologist

Stress Level: 66
Average Annual Salary:
~$83,000
Education Level: Master’s degree

Job Description: If you know anything about word roots, you know that hydro implies this job has something to do with water. Master’s degree-holding hydrologists use their knowledge of how water travels across the planet to make water more available in a particular area or improve an area’s water quality.

21. Orthodontist

Stress Level: 67
Average Annual Salary:
~$221,000

Job Description: Smile! You’re making bank and giving people confidence in their own pearly whites. You’ll have to diagnose their problems and build the apparatuses required to fix their teeth, but it’s a rewarding career if you love helping others.

22. Computer Hardware Engineer

Stress Level: 67
Average Annual Salary:
~$115,000
Education Level: Bachelor’s degree from a program with accreditation

Job Description: Much like a software developer, the hardware engineer tests, designs and develops. He or she does so in order to create equipment for military, scientific, commercial or industrial use.

23. Technical Writer

Stress Level: 69
Average Annual Salary:
~$73,000
Education Level: Bachelor’s degree, plus knowledge in a technical subject so you can properly write about it

Job Description: While this job requires a bit of technical knowledge, you won’t actually be using it to analyze and solve problems. Instead, you’ll write about all things tech: user manuals, operating instructions, maintenance tips … you name it.

24. Art Director

Stress Level: 69
Average Annual Salary:
~$102,000

Job Description: Your eye for design can serve you well — very well. Art directors pick and choose what looks good and what doesn’t. This serves to build a concise, beautiful brand for magazines, advertisements, newspapers and beyond. You might even find yourself creating movie posters or designing the packaging used to market products at the point of sale.

25. Optometrist

Stress Level: 70
Average Annual Salary:
~$116,000
Education Level: Bachelor’s degree, four years of optometry school and a state licensing to seal the deal

Job Description: All eyes will be on you as you check patients for potential eye problems or diseases. You’ll also be the person who prescribes them glasses or contacts.

26. Audiologist

Stress Level: 70
Average Annual Salary:
~$77,000
Education Level: Doctoral degree and licensing

Job Description: Just as an eye doctor helps you see, the audiologist helps you hear. You’ll diagnose and treat hearing issues, and you might also fit devices that make it easier for people to hear. Some audiologists also do research full-time.

27. Postsecondary Psychology Teacher

Stress Level: 71
Average Annual Salary:
~$79,370
Education Level: Doctoral degree or professional degree

Job Description: A few other postsecondary teaching positions are considered low-stress. You’d have to have a background in psychology before getting this particular position, but relying on your knowledge to lead a course? Piece of cake! Plus, you can even conduct research on the side for extra learning and stimulation for yourself.

28. Microbiologist

Stress Level: 71
Average Annual Salary:
~$76,000
Education Level: At least a bachelor’s, though some employers might ask for higher education credentials

Job Description: Peer into the microscope and investigate some of the world’s tiniest organisms as a microbiologist. Your job might have you uncovering the relationship between two specific organisms, or have you studying just how effective antibiotics are on bacteria.

29. Medical Scientist

Stress Level: 71
Average Annual Salary:
~$79,000
Education Level: Doctoral degree or professional degree

Job Description: Your job will improve the world around you as you try and understand all elements of disease. Research will obviously be the focus of your job.

30. Dental Hygienist

Stress Level: 71
Average Annual Salary:
~$73,000
Education Level: Associate’s degree

Job Description: You can earn a serious salary with only an associate’s degree— one of the easiest education levels to obtain on the list! You’ve likely seen a hygienist, so you know what they do: clean teeth, scan for oral disease, take X-rays or treat your teeth with fluoride.

31. Civil Engineer

Stress Level: 71
Average Annual Salary:
~$88,000
Education Level: Bachelor’s degree

Job Description: The major construction projects going on in your city or town are probably the mastermind of a civil engineer. Roads, railroads, airports, harbors, water systems, irrigation, dams and bridges all fall under the umbrella of civil engineering, and that could be your incredible job.

32. Chemical Engineer

Stress Level: 71
Average Annual Salary:
~$104,000
Education Level: Bachelor’s degree

Job Description: Everything from plastic to detergent to cement to paper is created with equipment and processes thought up by a chemical engineer.

Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list and, at the end of the day, it’s important that you love what you do and feel good when you leave work.

Which stress-free job caught your eye? Let me know in the comments section below. Don’t miss any future career advice by subscribing to Punched Clocks today!


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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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