22 Highest Paying Low-Stress Jobs in the United States (List) [2020]

Stress tolerance refers to the ability to be relaxed and composed when facing difficult situations. Having a high or positive stress tolerance means staying calm without getting carried away with emotions or feelings of hopelessness. Those with low-stress tolerance or stress resilience may seek careers that don’t place them into difficult situations.

Some people suffer from acute or chronic stress. This is defined by symptoms such as constant irritability, fatigue, headaches, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can be preventive to job performance if the work requires high-stress situations. This can come from work that requires a high degree of interpersonal skills, where social anxiety may be prevalent (like a sales position or customer service position).

Having little to no anxiety at work can be considered a form of compensation to some. The on-the-job stress levels being low can sometimes outweigh the compensation that the job or work provides. Freedom to be creative, stress levels being low and fair compensation are desired traits amongst job seekers looking for work.

Tip: A stressful job may be controlled by the employer, rather than the job title. Learning how to achieve job satisfaction by speaking with a manager about the job's high stress is a skill that all employees should develop. This can happen through "one-on-one's" between a manager and an employee.

high paying low stress jobs

22 Highest Paying Low Stress Jobs

Below are jobs that are considered to be lower stress, with a low-stress work environment with high pay. All jobs are sorted by the highest average annual salary. All salary information below has been sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a government organization that tracks job growth, available jobs, and median annual salary in the United States job market.

1. University Professor

A university professor can be found at a four-year institution (rather than a community college). The university professor is employed to educate students through higher education. The professor spends their time researching, teaching, and improving academic services provided by the university. The professor educates students based on curricula and a diverse set of course material.

Median salary: $164,918

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, and Ph.D. in a related field.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

Postsecondary teachers who work for 4-year colleges and universities typically need a doctoral degree in their field. Some schools may hire those with a master’s degree or those who are doctoral degree candidates for some specialties, such as fine arts, or for some part-time positions.

Postsecondary teachers who prepare students for an occupation that requires a license, certification, or registration, may need to have—or they may benefit from having—the same credential. For example, a postsecondary nursing teacher might need a nursing license or a postsecondary education teacher might need a teaching license.

Learn more on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2. Political Scientist

A political scientist is sometimes referred to as a policy analyst. These professionals study the development of political systems, research various political subjects (including foreign relations, policies, and ideologies), and analyze this political data to better forecast or understand political trends in the United States and across the globe.

Median salary: $122,220

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Public Administration, or a related field.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

Most political scientists need to complete either a master’s or Ph.D. program. To be admitted to a graduate program, applicants should complete undergraduate courses in political science, writing, and statistics. Applicants also benefit from having related work or internship experience.

Learn more on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

3. Software Developer

A software developer is sometimes called a computer programmer or software engineer. Software developers build and maintain software systems that run devices and networks. Some software developers and software engineers develop and build applications that can perform specific tasks on computers, smartphones, and other computer hardware devices.

Median salary: $110,890

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree, typically in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. Computer science degree programs are the most common because they tend to cover a broad range of topics. Students should focus on classes related to building software to better prepare themselves for work in the occupation. Many students gain experience in software development by completing an internship at a software company while in college. For some positions, employers may prefer that applicants have a master’s degree.

Software developers can advance to become information technology (IT) project managers, also called computer and information systems managers, a position in which they oversee the software development process.

Learn more on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

4. Audiologist

An audiologist is sometimes referred to as an ear specialist. They are professionals who assist those with ear-related issues, disabilities, or injuries. An audiologist can be found working within a private health-care facility, assessing and treating patients with various hearing problems.

Median salary: $84,177

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor's degree, Master’s degree, and doctoral degree in Audiology.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

The doctoral degree in audiology (Au.D.) is a graduate program that typically takes 4 years to complete. A bachelor’s degree in any field is needed to enter one of these programs.

Audiologists can earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A), offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. They also may be credentialed through the American Board of Audiology. Certification can be earned by graduating from an accredited doctoral program and passing a standardized exam. Certification may be required by some states or employers. Some states may allow certification in place of some education or training requirements needed for licensure.

Learn more on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

5. Massage Therapist

A massage therapist treats patients and customers using the manipulation of soft tissue in the muscles of the body. A massage therapist can alleviate pain, muscle tension, heal injuries, and improve blood flow or circulation in the body. The massage therapist practices forms of stress relief, relaxation techniques, and general wellness techniques for patients.

A massage therapist may practice sports massage, therapeutic massage, Swedish massage, and other forms of massage therapy on clients or patients.

Median salary: $52,192

Minimum education requirements: Massage Therapy Certification (Licensed Massage Therapist).

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

Education requirements for massage therapists vary greatly by state or locality. Education programs are typically found in private or public postsecondary institutions. Most programs require at least 500 hours of study for their completion; some programs require 1,000 or more hours.

In states with massage therapy regulations, workers must get a license or certification before practicing massage therapy. State regulations typically require graduation from an approved massage therapy program and passing an exam. The exam may be a state-specific exam or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) licensure exam, offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.

Learn more on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

6. Technical Writer

A technical writer is a professional writer and information communicator who transfers information between two parties. This communication can be in the form of any medium that best facilitates the transfer and comprehension of information. They may assist in developing product manuals, how-to guides, website FAQs, website help sections, journal articles, and other content that contains technical information.

Median salary: $60,470

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

Employers generally prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in English or another communications-related subject. Technical writing jobs may require candidates to have both a degree and knowledge of a technical field, such as engineering, computer science, or medicine.

Some associations, including the Society for Technical Communication, offer certification for technical writers. In addition, the American Medical Writers Association offers extensive continuing education programs and certificates in medical writing. These certificates are available to professionals in the medical and scientific communication fields.

Learn more on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

7. Occupational Therapist

An occupational therapist treats injured, ill, or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. An occupational therapist will utilize evidence-based practice, research, scientific evidence, and other holistic therapies to promote patients' independence and functionality to fulfill their daily routes and roles.

Median salary: $89,242

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from a university certified by the ACOTE (Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education) or ATOA (American Occupational Therapy Association).

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

Most occupational therapists enter the occupation with a master’s degree in occupational therapy. In 2017, there were about 200 occupational therapy programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, part of the American Occupational Therapy Association.

All states require occupational therapists to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, but all require candidates to pass the national examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). To sit for the NBCOT exam, candidates must have earned a degree from an accredited educational program and completed all fieldwork requirements.

Learn more on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

8. Radiation Therapist

A radiation therapist or therapeutic radiographer is a professional who specializes in the work of radiation oncology. The radiation therapist operates linear accelerator machines to deliver concentrated radiation therapy to a patient’s tumor.

Median salary: $86,900

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s Degree in Radiation Therapy.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

Employers usually prefer to hire applicants who have an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy. However, candidates may qualify for some positions by completing a certificate program.

In most states, radiation therapists must be licensed or certified. Requirements vary by state, but typically include graduation from an accredited radiation therapy program and ARRT certification.

For more information about this job, the number of jobs available in the United States, and the required training type, please visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics here.

9. Speech Pathologist

A speech pathologist (or "speech-language pathologist") assists patients who have disabilities or have experienced traumatic life events that have left them with speech or voice disorders or impairments. The speech pathologist also assists patients who are struggling to use their throat or swallowing. The speech pathologist both treats patients and develops therapy plans to suit the individualized needs of the patients.

Median salary: $82,890

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Speech-language Pathology.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

Speech-language pathologists typically need at least a master’s degree. Although master’s programs do not require a particular undergraduate degree for admission, certain courses must be taken before entering a program. Required courses vary by institution.

Speech-language pathologists can earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Certification typically satisfies some or all of the requirements for state licensure and may be required by some employers. To earn CCC-SLP certification, candidates must graduate from an accredited program, pass an exam, and complete a fellowship under the supervision of a certified speech-language pathologist. To maintain the CCC-SLP credential, speech-language pathologists must complete 30 hours of continuing education every 3 years.

For more information about this job, the number of jobs available in the United States, and the required training type, please visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics here.

10. Agricultural Engineer

An agricultural engineer is a professional that aims to solve agricultural problems concerning power supplies, the efficiency of machinery, and the use of structure or facilities. This includes solving pollution issues, environmental issues, and the storing or processing of agricultural products.

Median salary: $80,720

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering or Biological Engineering.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

Students who are interested in studying agricultural engineering will benefit from taking high school courses in math and science. University students take courses in advanced calculus, physics, biology, and chemistry. They also may take courses in business, public policy, and economics.

For more information about this job, the number of jobs available in the United States, and the required training type, please visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics here.

11. Chemical Engineer

A chemical engineer is a professional who uses their training and knowledge of science and mathematics to improve the process and equipment used in processing chemicals. These professionals analyze processes and data, perform research and tests, and develop plans to optimize chemical plant operations and procedures.

Median salary: $78,278

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

Chemical engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering or a related field. Programs in chemical engineering usually take 4-years to complete and include classroom, laboratory, and field studies. High school students interested in studying chemical engineering will benefit from taking science courses, such as chemistry, physics, and biology. They also should take math courses, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus.

Licensure for chemical engineers is not as common as it is for other engineering occupations, nor is it required for entry-level positions. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs).

For more information about this job, the number of jobs available in the United States, and the required training type, please visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics here.

12. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

A diagnostic medical sonographer is a specialist that uses imaging equipment and soundwaves to form images of multiple parts of the human body. These images are referred to as ultrasounds. A diagnostic medical sonographer is sometimes referred to as a “sonographer.”

Median salary: $77,400

Minimum education requirements: Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree in Sonography.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

Colleges and universities offer both associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs in sonography and in cardiovascular and vascular technology. One-year certificate programs also are available from colleges and some hospitals.

Most employers prefer to hire diagnostic imaging workers with professional certification, or they may expect applicants to earn certification shortly after being hired. Many insurance providers and Medicare pay for procedures only if a certified sonographer, technologist, or technician performed the work. Certification is available from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, Cardiovascular Credentialing International, and American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

For more information about this job, the number of jobs available in the United States, and the required training type, please visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics here.

13. Dental Hygienist

A dental hygienist or oral hygienist is a registered dental professional. The dental hygienist performs teeth cleanings and preventive oral care. This includes examining patients for signs of damage and disease and assisting dentists.

Median salary: $75,810

Minimum education requirements: Associate’s degree from an accredited dental hygiene program.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

Dental hygienists typically need an associate’s degree in dental hygiene; they may also get a bachelor’s degree. Master’s degree programs in dental hygiene are available but are relatively uncommon. A bachelor’s or master’s degree usually is required for research, teaching, or clinical practice in public or school health programs.

Dental hygiene programs are often found in community colleges, technical schools, and universities. The Commission on Dental Accreditation, part of the American Dental Association, accredits more than 300 dental hygiene programs.

For more information about this job, the number of jobs available in the United States, and the required training type, please visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics here.

14. Economist

An economist is a financial expert who studies market activity. An economist's objective is to collect and analyze financial and socioeconomic data to advise businesses and the government on future economic conditions to make decisions better. The economist's main role is to develop economic forecasting models.

Median salary: $75,703

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Economics.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

A master’s degree or Ph.D. is required for most economist jobs. Positions in business, research, or international organizations often require a combination of graduate education and work experience. In addition, courses that introduce students to statistical analysis software are helpful.

For more information about this job, the number of jobs available in the United States, and the required training type, please visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics here.

15. Computer Hardware Engineer

A computer hardware engineer is a professional that assists in developing, designing, and testing computer hardware components or electrical systems for computers. These professionals are responsible for analyzing test data, eliminating errors, and modifying existing hardware for computers or other electronic devices.

Median salary: $75,592

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering or Computer Science.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

Most entry-level computer hardware engineers have a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, although a degree in electrical engineering or computer science also is generally acceptable. A computer engineering major is similar to a major in electrical engineering but with a heavy emphasis on computer science.

For more information about this job, the number of jobs available in the United States, and the required training type, please visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics here.

16. Dietitian

A dietitian is a professional who helps people achieve particular health goals. The dietitian analyzes the person's physical conditions, physical activities, and eating habits to address health concerns better. The dietitian helps to develop a nutrition plan that meets their individualized needs and objectives.

Median salary: $70,555

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition, Health, or a related field.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

Dietitians and nutritionists typically need a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, foods and nutrition, clinical nutrition, public health nutrition, or a related area. Dietitians also may study food service systems management. Programs include courses in nutrition, psychology, chemistry, and biology.

Many dietitians choose to earn the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential. Although the RDN is not always required, the qualifications are often the same as those necessary for becoming a licensed dietitian in states that require a license. Many employers prefer or require the RDN, which is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

For more information about this job, the number of jobs available in the United States, and the required training type, please visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics here.

17. Operations Research Analyst

An operations research analyst is a professional who works to identify and understand issues in business operations. This professional works to understand how business processes and procedures can be improved to generate operations efficiencies.

Median salary: $68,422

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in Operations Research, Engineering, Computer Science, Mathematics, or a related field.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

Because operations research is based on quantitative analysis, students need extensive coursework in mathematics. Courses include statistics, calculus, and linear algebra. Coursework in computer science is important because analysts rely on advanced statistical and database software to analyze and model data. Courses in other areas, such as engineering, economics, and political science, are useful because operations research is a multidisciplinary field with a wide variety of applications.

For more information about this job, the number of jobs available in the United States, and the required training type, please visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics here.

18. Environmental Restoration Planner

An environmental restoration planner or sometimes referred to an environmental specialist is an expert who monitors a population's impact on the environment. This includes identifying environmental issues and recommendation solutions. The objective of the environmental restoration planner is to improve the living conditions of the environment.

Median salary: $68,214 (but in the District of Columbia, wages can be near $104,880 per year, on average)

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science.

19. Curator

A curator is a professional who works as part of a museum or another organization. The curator's objective is to collect, catalog, and display art or artifacts. The curator’s job is to negotiate loans and acquisitions, raise funds, and ensure the recording of information about the artifacts in the collection is correct.

Median salary: $65,958

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in a related field.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

Curators typically need a master’s degree in art history, history, archaeology, or museum studies. In small museums, curator positions may be available to applicants with a bachelor’s degree. Because curators have administrative and managerial responsibilities, courses in business administration, public relations, marketing, and fundraising are recommended.

The Academy of Certified Archivists offers the Certified Archivist credential. To earn certification, candidates usually must have a master’s degree, have professional archival experience, and pass an exam. They must renew their certification periodically by retaking the exam or fulfilling continuing education credits.

For more information about this job, the number of jobs available in the United States, and the required training type, please visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics here.

20. Marketing Manager

A marketing director or marketing manager is responsible for providing the marketing team's overall direction and operational procedure. The marketing manager oversees all aspects of the marketing function within an organization. This includes overseeing all marketing campaigns, setting budgets, and ensuring the marketing team's activities are effective.

Median salary: $65,584

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in Business, Marketing, Communications, or a related field.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

A bachelor’s degree is required for most advertising, promotions, and marketing management positions. For advertising management positions, some employers prefer a bachelor’s degree in advertising or journalism. A relevant course of study might include classes in marketing, consumer behavior, market research, sales, communication methods and technology, visual arts, art history, and photography.

For more information about this job, the number of jobs available in the United States, and the required training type, please visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics here.

21. Food Technologist

A food technologist is a professional who oversees and improves food quality and packaging. The food technologist’s job is to ensure that products comply with safety regulations and standards. Meanwhile, developing improved food processing, storage, and transportation methods.

Median salary: $62,000

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science, Biology, Chemistry, or a related field.

22. Biomedical Engineer

A biomedical engineer is a professional who designs technological solutions for the medical industry. This professional's objective is to improve the quality and effectiveness of patient care by creating medical devices or instruments. The biomedical engineer may focus on developing the software that runs the biomedical equipment, as well.

Median salary: $58,104

Minimum education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering or Biomedical Science.

Degree's, certifications, licenses, and training

Bachelor’s degree programs in biomedical engineering and bioengineering focus on engineering and biological sciences. Programs include laboratory- and classroom-based courses, in subjects such as fluid and solid mechanics, computer programming, circuit design, and biomaterials. Other required courses may include biological sciences, such as physiology.

For more information about this job, the number of jobs available in the United States, and the required training type, please visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics here.

How to Speak with a Manager About a Stressful Job

If considering making a job transition or change due to high-stress levels, consider speaking with the manager or supervisor about the issue before making a change.

Here is how to initiate a conversation with a manager regarding the high-stress levels of the job:

  • Understand what is creating chronic stress-levels on the job. It could be the requirements of the job, the amount of travel, or something else. Write those factors down.
  • Send an email to the manager requesting to meet regarding the role.
  • Set up a time to meet with the manager.
  • In the meeting, express needing to find a balance between work and personal life. Recite the factors that produce a stressful workplace and ask the manager for assistance.

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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