24 High-Paying Jobs That Offer Low(er) Stress


Nobody likes to feel stressed. It is an unpleasant experience, and most job seekers would love to find a career that minimizes the amount of time spent in high-stress situations.

With this in mind, TIME Magazine listed 24  jobs with that perfect combination of high pay and low stress, comparing average salaries and stress levels of the 767 occupations, as identified by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The “stress tolerance” for each job is a rating on a scale from 0 to 100, where a lower rating signals less stress. It measures how frequently workers must accept criticism and deal effectively with high stress on the job. 

Check out the full list for the jobs that offer average salaries (all over $70K!) with a stress tolerance rating of 70 or lower —and start dreaming of your next career shift today.

1. Agricultural Engineers

Stress tolerance: 60.8

Average annual salary (2014): $75,440

What they do: These professionals apply knowledge of engineering technology and biological science to agricultural problems concerned with power and machinery, electrification, structures, soil and water conservation, and processing of agricultural products.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree, preferably in agricultural engineering or biological engineering.

2. Geographers

Stress tolerance: 58.0

Average annual salary (2014): $75,610

What they do: Study the nature and use of areas of Earth’s surface, conduct research on physical aspects of a region, and conduct research on the spatial implications of human activities within a given area.

Education requirements: Master’s degree for most positions, some entry-level jobs in the federal government only require a bachelor’s degree.

3. Hydrologists

Stress tolerance: 65.5

Average annual salary (2014): $81,930

What they do: Study how water moves across and through Earth’s crust. They can use their expertise to solve problems in the areas of water quality or availability.

Education requirements: Master’s degree.

4. Operations Research Analysts

Stress tolerance: 63.0

Average annual salary (2014): $82,940

What they do: Use advanced mathematical and analytical methods to help organizations investigate complex issues, identify and solve problems, and make better decisions.

Education requirements: Many entry-level positions are available for those with a bachelor’s degree, but some employers prefer to hire applicants with a master’s degree or Ph.D.

5. Statisticians

Stress tolerance: 59.0

Average annual salary (2014): $84,010

What they do: Use statistical methods to collect and analyze data and help solve real-world problems in business, engineering, the sciences, or other fields.

Education requirements: Typically need a graduate degree.

6. Materials Engineers

Stress tolerance: 61.0

Average annual salary (2014): $91,150

What they do: Evaluate and develop materials, machinery, and processes to manufacture materials for use in products that must meet specialized design and performance specifications.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in materials science or engineering, or a related field.

7. Biomedical Engineers

Stress tolerance: 61.3

Average annual salary (2014): $91,760

What they do: They analyze and design solutions to problems in biology and medicine, with the goal of improving the quality and effectiveness of patient care.

Education requirements: Typically need a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from an accredited program. Alternatively, they can get a bachelor’s in a different field of engineering and then either get a graduate degree in biomedical engineering or get on-the-job training in biomedical engineering.

8. Material Scientists

Stress tolerance: 53.0

Average annual salary (2014): $94,350

What they do: Research and study substances at the atomic and molecular levels and the ways in which substances react with each other, use knowledge to develop new and improved products.

Education requirements: At least a bachelor’s degree; master’s degree or Ph.D. is needed for many research jobs.

9. Art Directors

Stress tolerance: 69.0

Average annual salary (2014): $97,850

What they do: Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree or previous work experience.

10. Marine Engineers and Naval Architects

Stress tolerance: 69.6

Average annual salary (2014): $99,160

What they do: Design, build, and maintain ships, including aircraft carriers, submarines, sailboats, and tankers. Marine engineers work on the mechanical systems, such as propulsion and steering. Naval architects work on the basic design, including the form and stability of hulls.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree, but practical experience is also highly valued.

11. Applications Software Developers

Stress tolerance: 65.0

Average annual salary (2014): $99,530

What they do: Develop, create, and modify general computer applications software or specialized utility programs.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree and strong computer programming skills.

12. Economics Teachers (Postsecondary)

Stress tolerance: 61.8

Average annual salary (2014): $102,120

What they do: Teach courses in economics. Includes teachers primarily engaged in teaching and those who do a combination of teaching and research.

Education requirements: Typically need a Ph.D. to teach at the college level, but a master’s degree may be enough.

13. Political Scientists

Stress tolerance: 60.8

Average annual salary (2014): $104,000

What they do: Study the origin, development, and operation of political systems.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree, followed by master’s or Ph.D. in political science, public administration, or a related field.

14. Mathematicians

Stress tolerance: 57.2

Average annual salary (2014): $104,350

What they do: Conduct research in fundamental mathematics or in application of mathematical techniques to science, management, and other fields; solve problems in various fields using mathematical methods.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s or master’s degree for those who want to work in government, and a doctorate may be required to work for private companies.

15. Economists

Stress tolerance: 58.7

Average annual salary (2014): $105,290

What they do: Economists study the production and distribution of resources, goods, and services.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree.

16. Geoscientists (except hydrologists and geographers)

Stress tolerance: 62.5

Average annual salary (2014): $105,390

What they do: Study the composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the Earth.

Education requirements: At least a bachelor’s degree, and in several states geoscientists may need a license.

17. Astronomers

Stress tolerance: 62.0

Average annual salary (2014): $107,140

What they do: Observe, research, and analyze astronomical phenomena to increase basic knowledge or apply such information to practical problems.

Education requirements: Ph.D. for most research jobs.

18. Actuaries

Stress tolerance: 63.7

Average annual salary (2014): $110,090

What they do: Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree and a series of exams to become certified.

19. Computer Hardware Engineers

Stress tolerance: 67.0

Average annual salary (2014): $110,650

What they do: Research, design, develop, or test computer or computer-related equipment for commercial, industrial, military, or scientific use.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree from an accredited program.

20. Optometrists

Stress tolerance: 70.3

Average annual salary (2014): $113,010

What they do: Optometrists perform eye exams to check for vision problems and diseases. They prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s, four-year doctor of optometry program, and a state license.

21. Physicists

Stress tolerance: 61.3

Average annual salary (2014): $117,300

What they do: Conduct research into physical phenomena, develop theories on the basis of observation and experiments, and devise methods to apply physical laws and theories.

Education requirements: Ph.D. for most research jobs

22. Law Teachers (Postsecondary)

Stress tolerance: 62.7

Average annual salary (2014): $126,270

What they do: Teach courses in law.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s and law degrees.

23. Computer and Information Systems Managers

Stress tolerance: 64.2

Average annual salary (2014): $136,280

What they do: These workers help determine the information technology goals of an organization and are responsible for implementing the appropriate computer systems to meet those goals.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree.

24. Orthodontists

Stress tolerance: 67.0

Average annual salary (2014): $201,030

What they do: Examine, diagnose, and treat dental misalignments and oral cavity anomalies, design appliances to realign teeth and jaws.

Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree, four-year dental school, and two to three years of residency training.

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