8 Low-Stress Careers That Earn You Over $100,000 Annually

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The search for a career that offers both a handsome salary and minimal stress is not just a dream but a possibility in today’s diverse job market. Contrary to popular belief, high-paying, low-stress careers do exist and cater to a variety of skills and interests, from creativity in art direction to the analytical minds of data scientists. These coveted positions promise not only a substantial income but also a balanced work-life balance, making them ideal for those aiming to avoid high-stress situations while still achieving financial security. Embracing such roles often requires a specific level of education, from a bachelor’s to a master’s degree, highlighting the importance of aligning one’s academic pursuits with their career goals. This is Top 8 Low-Stress Careers That Can Earn You Over $100,000 Annually.

This article aims to unveil 30 such low-stress careers, ranging across fields like healthcare, technology, and education, that not only offer a serene working environment but also impressive paychecks exceeding $100,000 annually. With roles tailored for individuals holding everything from a bachelor’s degree to those with specialized job training or advanced degrees, the list serves as a guide for anyone from fresh graduates to seasoned professionals looking to pivot to a high-paying yet stress-free career path.

1. Junior College Professor

Junior College Professors, often integral to the academic fabric of community colleges, provide a critical educational service without the intense pressures often found in four-year institutions. Their roles primarily focus on teaching rather than research, creating a more predictable and less stressful work environment. Here are some key aspects of their career:

Responsibilities and Work Environment

  • Teaching and Student Interaction: They are responsible for delivering lectures, preparing lesson plans, and assessing student progress through assignments and exams.
  • Support Beyond Classroom: In addition to teaching, these professors often offer tutoring and career advice, helping students transition to further education or the workforce.
  • Focus on Teaching: Unlike their counterparts in research universities, the emphasis is more on pedagogy than on publishing research, contributing to a lower stress level.

Salary Insights and Growth

  • Average Salaries: While the average salary for full-time junior college professors ranges between $60,000 and $70,000, it can vary significantly based on factors like geographic location, expertise, and tenure. For instance, salaries in states like Texas can reach up to $85,254.
  • Part-Time and Adjunct Positions: Many community colleges also hire adjunct faculty, who are paid per course, typically earning between $2,000 and $5,000, which might average below the minimum wage when considering the hours spent preparing and grading.

Career Outlook and Requirements

  • Educational Requirements: Most positions require at least a master’s degree in the subject area, with a preference for those who have prior teaching experience.
  • Job Growth: The field is expected to grow by 11% to 15% from 2018 to 2026, indicating steady demand for educators in community colleges.

This role not only offers a chance at a stable career with respectable earnings but also allows for a significant impact on students’ early academic and career paths, all within a low-stress, focused teaching environment.

2. Art Director

Art Directors are vital in shaping the visual aspects of various media, commanding a median salary of $105,180 as of 2022. They play a pivotal role in advertising campaigns, magazines, television shows, films, websites, and product packaging, ensuring that all visual representations align with the brand’s objectives and image.

Key Responsibilities and Skills

  1. Creative Oversight: Art Directors deliver groundbreaking and inspiring conceptual ideas that work across all media, maintaining a consistent visual message for brands.
  2. Team Coordination: They lead design teams and coordinate with sales, editorial, digital, research, marketing, and merchandising departments to ensure consistent brand messaging.
  3. Leadership and Communication: Strong leadership, team management, and excellent communication skills are essential, as Art Directors must orchestrate the creative process, often under tight deadlines and budgets.

Career Outlook and Challenges

  • Job Growth: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 6.1% employment growth from 2022 to 2032, with an estimated 8,200 job openings emerging in the field.
  • Stress and Competition: Despite being categorized among low-stress careers, the role can involve high-pressure scenarios, especially in marketing agencies. Art Director jobs need to consistently deliver innovative work and manage competition, which can sometimes lead to a stressful environment.

This career not only demands creative excellence but also the ability to manage stress and lead a team effectively, offering both challenges and rewards in a dynamic field.

3. Economist

Economists hold a distinguished place among low-stress, high-paying careers, with their work primarily focused on analyzing economic issues and developing models to solve them. This role, which often requires a graduate degree, combines expertise in statistics, mathematics, and finance, allowing professionals to work in various sectors, including public policy, finance, and research.

Key Responsibilities and Salary Insights

  1. Sector Variability: Economists’ salaries can vary significantly based on the sector. For example, public sector economists can earn up to $246,000 annually, while those in research roles at the Federal Reserve have salaries around $150,000.
  2. High Earning Potential: In high-demand financial sectors, such as Wall Street, economists can earn several hundred thousand dollars, reflecting the high value placed on their specialized knowledge and skills.

Career Path and Stress Levels

  • Educational Requirements: A career as an economist typically requires a master’s or doctoral degree, emphasizing the need for advanced education in this field.
  • Low Stress and Work Balance: With a stress ranking of 52 out of 100 by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Information Network (O*NET), roles such as environmental economists not only promise over $100,000 in annual earnings but also a balanced work-life balance with minimal stress. This makes it an appealing option for those seeking both financial security and quality of life.

Economists’ ability to analyze and predict market trends not only makes them invaluable to businesses but also offers a stable career with the potential for significant financial rewards and low stress, especially in specialized fields like environmental economics.

4. Mathematician

Mathematicians are pivotal in various sectors, from academia to technology, where they utilize their skills to conduct research and solve complex problems. With a median salary of $112,110 as of 2022, this career not only promises financial stability but also a low-stress work environment, making it an attractive option for those seeking high-paying, low-stress jobs.

Key Responsibilities and Work Environment

  1. Research and Development: Mathematicians engage in deep theoretical research or practical application of mathematical theories to solve real-world problems.
  2. Versatile Roles: They might work as analysts in government agencies, as consultants in engineering firms, or as educators in academic institutions.
  3. Data Analysis and Decision Making: In business and science fields, they analyze data and create models to help make informed decisions.

Educational Paths and Opportunities

  • Educational Requirements: While a master’s degree in mathematics is often necessary for private sector jobs, a bachelor’s degree may suffice for certain federal positions. Additional certifications can enhance job prospects and allow for roles such as teaching at the middle or high school level.
  • Career Advancement: Mathematicians often have the opportunity to advance into higher positions or specializations, such as data science or computational mathematics, depending on their area of expertise and additional training.

Mathematicians enjoy a profession with a below-average stress level, attributed to the intellectual nature of the work rather than physical demands or high-stress situations. This career not only offers substantial financial rewards but also provides a fulfilling experience to those who have a passion for mathematics and problem-solving.

5. Actuary

Actuaries are professionals who specialize in evaluating financial risk and uncertainty, leveraging their expertise in mathematics, statistics, and financial theory. This role is crucial in industries such as insurance, but is also expanding into other sectors.

Key Responsibilities and Career Path

  1. Risk Assessment: Actuaries use their mathematical skills to predict and manage risks, which is essential for insurance companies and other businesses.
  2. Financial Forecasting: They create models to forecast potential financial losses and determine how companies can prepare for future financial uncertainties.
  3. Policy Development: Actuaries are involved in designing insurance policies and calculating premiums that balance risk with profitability.

Salary Insights and Growth Potential

  • Median Salary: According to recent data, actuaries earn a median salary of $113,990 annually.
  • Job Growth: The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates 23.2% employment growth for actuaries from 2022 to 2032, indicating strong future demand for this profession.

Education and Certification Requirements

To become an actuary, one typically needs a bachelor’s degree in fields like mathematics, statistics, or actuarial science. The path to becoming a certified actuary involves passing a series of exams from professional bodies such as the Society of Actuaries or the Casualty Actuarial Society. These exams are rigorous and can take several years to complete, reflecting the high level of expertise required in this field.

Actuaries enjoy a profession that offers not only a high salary but also a relatively low-stress environment, making it one of the best jobs for individuals seeking stability and excellent compensation without the high-stress levels often found in other professions.

6. Optometrist

Optometrists are healthcare professionals specializing in eye care, commanding a median salary of $125,590 annually. Their role is critical in diagnosing and treating vision issues, which contributes to their high earning potential. The job outlook for optometrists is positive, with 8.8% employment growth expected between 2022 and 2032, indicating a steady demand for this profession.

Key Responsibilities and Career Path

  1. Patient Consultations: Optometrists conduct thorough examinations to diagnose vision problems and eye diseases.
  2. Vision Therapy: They provide treatments, including prescribing glasses and contact lenses.
  3. Health Assessments: Regular testing for eye health is necessary to prevent diseases.

Education and Training Requirements

  • Initial Education: Requires a Bachelor’s Degree, followed by passing the Optometry Admission Test (OAT).
  • Advanced Training: Completion of a Doctor of Optometry Program is essential, along with licensure through the National Board of Examiners in Optometry.
  • Continuing Education: Optometrists must complete ongoing education to maintain their licensing and stay updated with the latest practices in eye care.

Despite the high salary and job growth, optometrists face challenges such as the repetitive nature of eye tests and the need for meticulous attention to detail during patient assessments. However, the ability to work independently and the satisfaction from helping improve patients’ quality of life make it a rewarding career. The role’s flexibility and above-average upward mobility also contribute to its classification among low-stress, high-paying careers.

7. Computer Hardware Engineer

Computer Hardware Engineers are pivotal in the development and innovation of computer systems and components, such as circuits, routers, and memory devices. Their role is essential in both the tech industry and broader sectors that rely on computing technology.

Key Responsibilities and Work Environment

  1. Design and Prototyping: Engineers are tasked with creating blueprints for new hardware technology and testing prototypes to ensure functionality.
  2. Maintenance and Optimization: Beyond initial designs, they continuously test hardware to optimize performance and update systems to work with new software.
  3. User Training and Support: They also provide necessary training to users on new systems and offer support to resolve any operational issues.

Salary Insights and Growth Potential

  • Median Annual Wage: As of May 2020, the median wage for computer hardware engineers was $119,560.
  • Average Salary: Recent data suggests an average annual salary of $140,830, with top earners making significantly more, especially in high-demand areas like computer systems design and scientific research.

Education and Stress Levels

  • Educational Requirements: A bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or a closely related field is essential.
  • Stress Tolerance and Work Schedule: These engineers have a stress tolerance score of 66, indicating a manageable level of job-related stress. They generally work full-time, but may experience higher stress during project deadlines or critical product launches.

This career not only offers a lucrative salary but also positions itself as a fulfilling option for those interested in cutting-edge technology and innovation, all within a relatively low-stress environment.

8. Computer and Information Research Scientist

Computer and Information Research Scientists are at the forefront of technological innovation and theoretical advancements in computing. These professionals focus on complex problem-solving and the development of new technology, making significant contributions to both academic research and practical applications in various industries.

Key Responsibilities and Skills

  1. Problem Analysis and Solution Development: They analyze complex issues to develop solutions that involve computer hardware and software, applying theoretical expertise and innovation.
  2. Project Collaboration: Participating in multidisciplinary projects, they work on areas such as virtual reality, human-computer interaction, and robotics.
  3. Consultation and Strategy: They consult with users, management, and technicians to determine computing needs and system requirements, playing a key role in organizational tech strategy.

Salary Insights and Job Market

  • Median Annual Salary: As of recent data, the median salary stands at approximately $131,490.
  • Job Growth: The field is experiencing a significant growth rate of about 21% from 2021 to 2031, indicating strong future demand for these professionals.
  • High Earning Potential: In places like California, salaries range from $114,500 to over $141,127 annually, with top earners potentially making even more.

Education and Work Environment

  • Educational Path: A master’s degree is typically required, with foundational skills built through a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field.
  • Workplace Conditions: The work environment demands a high level of intelligence, creativity, and problem-solving skills, with moderate attention to detail. Stress levels are generally moderate, with low physical demands and mild competition.

This career not only offers impressive paychecks but also a balanced work-life approach, making it a prime choice for those seeking low-stress, high-paying jobs in the tech industry.

Also Read: 7 Major Companies Offering Part-Time Jobs With Benefits


Throughout this article, we explored a diverse array of careers that blend the allure of high salaries with the appeal of low-stress environments. These roles span across various sectors, including education, technology, healthcare, and more, proving that it’s possible to achieve a lucrative income without succumbing to high stress levels. Particularly, professions such as junior college professors, art directors, economists, and computer hardware engineers not only offer substantial financial rewards but also promote a better work-life balance through manageable stress levels. What ties many of these careers together is the necessity for a solid educational foundation, ranging from bachelor’s to master’s degrees, highlighting the importance of tailored academic paths towards securing these coveted positions.

The broader implications of our findings extend beyond individual career choices, suggesting a shifting paradigm in the modern workforce where job satisfaction and mental well-being are increasingly prioritized. For those at the outset of their professional journey or considering a career pivot, this article serves as a testament to the diverse opportunities available that do not compromise on either compensation or quality of life. As the job market continues to evolve, the demand for skilled professionals in these low-stress, high-paying roles is anticipated to grow, reinforcing the value of specialized education and training in achieving both professional success and personal happiness.

In this post, we’ve looked at a wide range of professions that combine the attraction of high pay with the comforts of low-stress work settings. These fields include technology, healthcare, education, and more. This demonstrates that one can attain a high income without giving in to extreme stress. In addition to providing significant financial benefits, careers in junior college teaching, art direction, economics, and computer hardware engineering also help to improve work-life balance by requiring manageable amounts of stress. A strong educational foundation, ranging from bachelor’s to master’s degrees, is what unites many of these careers, emphasizing the significance of customized academic paths towards obtaining these sought-after positions.

Our findings have wider ramifications that go beyond personal career decisions and point to a changing paradigm in the contemporary workplace where job satisfaction and mental health are given more weight. This article shows that there are many options that don’t sacrifice pay or quality of life, whether you’re just starting out in your career or thinking about making a change in direction. The need for qualified workers in these high-paying, low-stress positions is expected to increase as the labor market changes, highlighting the importance of specialized education and training for achieving both career success and personal fulfillment.

Furthermore, many people in in-demand professions like software engineering, information security analysis, and nurse practitioners find that working part-time or having control over their schedules allows them to manage their stress levels more skillfully. Higher-paying jobs can be accessed through advanced degrees or additional certifications, such as those needed to become a physician assistant or nurse anesthetist. These credentials also give professionals more control over their working hours, which may lessen the typical stressors connected to these positions. Furthermore, for individuals from universities like South Dakota State University who value both environmental stewardship and a positive work environment, emerging fields like natural resource management and urban planning continue to offer promising career paths with sustainable impacts.

Moreover, this new paradigm allows for flexible career paths outside of the conventional nine-to-five workday. Real estate agents, for instance, are free from the constraints of an office job and can make a six-figure income by setting their own hours. Personal trainers and dental hygienists give their clients control over their work-life balance by providing essential services on a daily basis. The availability of entry-level positions that lead to high-paying roles is crucial, as software developers and web developers have shown, who frequently start out with just a high school diploma or associate degree and progress into roles that command a higher salary through experience and skill development.

Furthermore, positions in the federal government, like those of information technology managers and air traffic controllers, offer high compensation along with a structured career path and benefits like comprehensive pension plans and job security, which can lessen the stress brought on by uncertain finances. These jobs demonstrate the variety of opportunities available across various economic sectors, even though they sometimes call for additional certifications or advanced degrees in addition to rigorous training.

Ultimately, the ability to combine high income with low stress depends on matching one’s professional aspirations with personal capabilities and lifestyle preferences, regardless of the career path taken—whether it be social media management, golf ball diving, or working on cruise ships. This guarantees not only monetary gain but also long-term satisfaction in one’s chosen career path, demonstrating that the concept of a positive work environment is not only attainable but also becoming more and more common in the labor market.


1. What are some of the simplest jobs that offer a $100,000 annual salary? Some of the more straightforward jobs with salaries around $100,000 include Information Technology Managers ($119,500/year), Risk Managers ($116,000/year), Hackers (average $86,000/year, but can exceed $100,000 with the right skills and experience), Geophysicists ($105,000/year), Equity Research Associates, Dentists, Investment Banking Associates, and Optometrists.

2. Which high-paying jobs are known for being low-stress? Several high-paying careers are recognized for having low stress levels, including remote sensing scientists and technologists, environmental economists, mathematicians, water resource specialists, and solar energy systems engineers.

3. How can one earn $100,000 annually without holding a college degree? There are multiple careers where one can earn $100,000 or more annually without a degree. These include roles such as Information Systems Manager, Fire Chief, Product Manager, Senior Engagement Manager, Radiation Therapist, Computer Network Architect, Senior Real Estate Manager, and Technical Program Manager.

4. What are some easy jobs that still offer high salaries? Jobs that are relatively easy yet offer high salaries include groundskeeper ($50,475/year), accounting clerk, librarian, garbage truck driver, massage therapist, claims adjuster, customer service representative, and chauffeur. While some of these positions may not inherently pay high salaries, individuals in these roles can reach higher earnings through experience, location, and employer.