Top 15 Low-Stress Jobs That Pay Well in 2020

By Mike Simpson

Do you think that the only way to make a great salary is to take on a high-stress job? If so, you might be thankful to know that you’re wrong. Plenty of low-stress jobs come with respectable salaries. Isn’t that a relief?

A mellow way of life is possible, as long as you take your career in the right direction and focus on low-stress jobs. Want to know how you can pull it off? Well, let’s dig in, shall we.

What is Stress, and How Does It Manifest in a Person’s Career? Why Does It Matter?

Stress is a bit of an ambiguous term. When it comes to jobs, how you react to an activity or situation determines how stressful it is. The bigger the mental, emotional, or physical the response, the more stressful it may be.

Now, not all stress is bad. In some cases, a bit of pressure actually helps you flourish. It motivates you, creating a sense of urgency and potentially supporting greater focus.

But, when the stress builds and starts to become too much, it causes problems. You could become perpetually tense, anxious, or depressed, making it hard to concentrate. You may experience physical symptoms, like an upset stomach, headaches, or chest pain. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Stress can be job-related or caused by an environment. Sometimes, it’s the nature of the work itself that’s challenging. In others, its factors like the physical space, company culture, or toxic coworkers.

When you’re looking for low-stress jobs, your goal should be to minimize your exposure to stimuli that you have trouble managing or feel negatively about. That way, your experience is more pleasant, overall.

MIKE'S TIP: It’s important to remember that stress is highly personal. For example, some people thrive in high-pressure sales environments, while others have a nervous breakdown just thinking about that kind of work. If you’re looking for a low-stress job, you have to reflect on your own preferences and triggers. Find something that feels right to you. When you do, even challenging days won’t seem that bad.

Top 15 Low-stress Jobs That Pay Well

Technically, there’s no such thing as completely stress-free jobs. Every position comes with some challenges, and you’ll have the occasional rough day; it’s unavoidable.

However, some positions are much lower key than others. Here’s a look at some of the least stressful jobs around.

1. Technical Writer

Do you have a gift for explaining how to complete a task? When you put together IKEA furniture, do you look at the instructions and think, “I could do better than that?” If so, maybe you’re a born technical writer.

Technical writers specialize in creating technical copy, like manuals, how-to guides, and product documentation. While a bachelor’s degree in a tech-style field (like IT or engineering) is usually preferred, you don’t actually need a degree in some cases.

In exchange for your ability to make complex information easy to understand, you could bring in a pretty penny. The median salary is $72,850 a year, which is solid for such a low-key gig.

2. Cartographer

Did you know that demand for cartographers is growing? Well, it’s true. Plus, it’s pretty lucrative, leading to a median annual salary of $65,470, while being an incredibly low-stress job. After earning a bachelor’s degree in the subject or an allied field, you can put those skills to use, creating maps, assisting with navigation systems, and more.

3. Actuary

If you like math, statistics, and analysis, being an actuary might be one of the least stressful jobs you could pursue. These professionals use their skills to examine financial risk, develop probability tables, set insurance rates, and handle similar activities.

You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in math, statistics, or a similar field. But, in exchange for strolling down this road, you could earn a six-figure salary. In 2019, the median annual pay for actuaries came in at $108,350, which is pretty impressive.

4. House Painter

If you like working with your hands and would rather launch a career that doesn’t require a degree, house painting is a great choice. You could earn $40,280 a year if you hit the median salary mark, spending your days applying primer, paints, pigments, and sealants.

5. Hearing Aid Specialist

Hearing aid specialists assist customers by guiding as they pick hearing aids and ensuring a great fit. They administer and interpret hearing tests while also taking impressions and working with molds. With a high school diploma, you could earn the median salary of $52,770 a year, making it another great choice for anyone who wants to forgo college.

6. Art Director

Calling all artists! If you have a bachelor’s degree in an art-related field and have a strong portfolio of projects, you might enjoy working as an art director. These professionals use their expertise to support the artistic vision or strategy of a company, typically leading projects with visual elements.

You could find work with magazines, PR firms, companies launching products, and more. If you do, you’ll be happy to know that the median yearly salary comes in at $94,220.

7. Medical Records Technician

Medical facilities maintain a lot of paperwork. Hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices rely on medical record technicians to keep everything organized, ensure critical documents are completed, and handle record updates properly. With a post-secondary certificate, you could earn the median annual salary of $40,350, with the possibility of making over $66,200 as you gain experience.

8. Bookkeeper / Accounting Clerk

Another option for number whizzes looking for low-stress jobs, bookkeepers and accounting clerks focus on tracking financial transactions, creating balance statements, and similar activities. Basic computer and math skills are usually all it takes to get started, so you don’t need a bachelor’s degree. Instead, a vocational school program or some specific post-secondary classes are usually enough.

The median annual pay for bookkeepers and accounting clerks is a respectable $41,230. Those in the top 10 percent, however, can come in at $62,410 a year.

9. Solar Photovoltaic Installer

Renewable energy still makes headlines, and demand for solar photovoltaic installers is growing as a result. These pros spend their day installing and maintaining solar panel systems, essentially doing their part to help the planet.

With a high school diploma and some on-the-job training, you could reach the median salary of $44,890. As you gain experience, your earning potential rises, and you might hit the $63,000 a year mark or higher.

10. Massage Therapist

By earning a post-secondary certificate and passing your state’s exam, you could have a job that focuses on relaxation. As a massage therapist, it’s your goal to help people let go of tension and get relief from pain by physically manipulating soft tissues. In exchange, you could earn $42,820 a year or more, depending on whether you exceed the median salary.

11. Web Developer

Did you know that you can land a tech job even if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree? It’s true. Usually, you can start as a web developer with a two-year degree instead. That’s right; you could be coding websites faster than you probably thought. And, once you get some experience, landing a salary near the median of $73,760 is completely possible.

12. Dental Hygienist

As a dental hygienist, your focus is on keeping your patients’ smiles clean and healthy. You conduct assessments, take x-rays, handle cleanings, and guide patients on home care techniques. With an associate’s degree, you can bring in a median salary of $76,220 a year.

13. Wind Turbine Technician

Another job in the clean energy sector that doesn’t require anything more than a post-secondary certification, wind turbine technicians bring in a median salary of $52,910. The work is installation, maintenance, or repair-oriented, making it fairly low-key. But some of the duties do involve climbing some pretty tall towers, so it might only be low-stress if you aren’t afraid of heights.

14. Transportation Inspector

Ideal for the safety-oriented, transportation inspectors ensure that a range of vehicles and transit systems aren’t a danger to people or cargo. For their efforts, they can earn a median salary of $72,140 a year. Plus, it’s possible to get started with a high school diploma thanks to on-the-job training options.

15. Radiation Therapist

If you’re interested in the healthcare field, working as a radiation therapist can be lucrative and rewarding. These professionals administer radiation treatments to those who have cancer and certain other ailments. In exchange, they bring in a median salary of $85,560 a year.

However, while this job isn’t high-stress by nature, it can be challenging. Losing a patient can be hard, and there’s a decent chance it will happen on occasion.

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, you don’t have to welcome a ton of stress into your life just because you want to make a buck. All of the jobs above are generally low-key, but come with respectable salaries. If you favor a mellow approach to life, consider checking them out.

Good luck on your job search!

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Check out our other “Job List Articles” if you’re exploring career options:

About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.