Low-Stress Career Options
These careers could be the solution to your work-stress.
Are some careers better than others when it comes to stress? The answer sometimes depends on the person, not the job.
"Some people want to get up to bat with the bases loaded with two outs in the ninth," says Dr. Russell Luepker, a cardiologist based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. "I think finding something you like to do reduces stress in general."
But Luepker, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association and the Mayo Professor of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, says there are occupations with characteristics that could potentially combat anxiety and the effects of stress.
Want to know more about these types of career options? Luepker weighs in on five career choices with potentially stress-reducing capabilities and good average earning potential:
Career #1 - Computer Software Engineers (Applications) and Programmers
Engineers design and develop software that programmers convert into codes that can be understood by computers. They generally work in clean, comfortable offices and labs where computer equipment is located.
Low-Stress Factor: "... This is the kind of job where you might have some considerable control over the pace and how it's done. Any job where you are in control of the schedule and decide the deadline tends to be a lower stress job," says Luepker.
Education Options: A bachelor's degree in a field such as computer science, software engineering, or mathematics is generally required.
The Average Annual Salary: $87,900 for computer software engineers (applications); $73,470 for computer programmers.*
Career #2 - Massage Therapists
A large percentage of these hands-on therapists work part-time or are self-employed, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Clients seek their services for medical benefits or the effects of relaxation. Ambient or soothing music often is used in therapeutic settings.
Low-Stress Factor: "As a massage therapist, you're trying to relieve someone else's stress," Luepker says. "That's a good example of trying to make other people feel better or good. If you are getting satisfaction out of what you're doing and making other people feel good, it's a low-stress job..."
Education Options: Public and private colleges offer programs in massage therapy, which focus on the various types of massage as well as anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and ethics.
The Average Annual Salary: $39,850.*
Career #3 - Civil Engineers
These engineers are responsible for designing and supervising the construction of roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and water supply and sewage systems. Although deadlines and design standards could bring added pressure to the gig, civil engineers often get to spend time outdoors at construction sites.
Low-Stress Factor: "Jobs like (civil) engineers, I suspect, are the kind where you have a technical skill and presumably are in control of your own work. There may be a theme there. People who like their job and are in control of their work are probably happier, no matter what their job is."
Education Options: Nearly all entry-level engineering positions require a bachelor's degree in engineering, although there are programs granting associate's, master's, and doctoral degrees in the field.
The Average Annual Salary: $78,560.*
Career #4 - Teachers
Teachers play a key role in the lives of students in kindergarten, elementary, middle school, and high school. Their ability to communicate and motivate are essential to the intellectual growth of students.
Low-Stress Factor: "In general it's another job where you are relatively in control of your life," Luepker says. "You are the authority figure and students look up to you..."
Education Options: A bachelor's degree from a teacher education program could potentially help qualify candidates for a state license to teach in public schools. Candidates with degrees in other subjects could also have opportunities to teach through alternative teacher education programs.
The Average Annual Salary: $54,390 (high school teachers, except special education and vocational); $52,570 (middle school teachers), $52,240 (elementary school teachers); and $49,770 (kindergarten teachers).*
Career #5 - Physical Therapist Assistants
Assistants enable physical therapists (PTs) to treat patients who have been diagnosed with health-related conditions that inhibit their ability to perform daily activities.
Low-Stress Factor: "Yes, the assistants are helping the physical therapists, but they are sometimes on the front line. It's a nice job ... because you are helping other people," says Luepker.
Education Options: Most physical therapist assistants earn associate's degrees from an accredited physical therapist assistant program. The majority of states require this degree by law to work in the profession, according to the U.S Department of Labor.
The Average Annual Salary: $46,300.*
*Salary information is from the U.S. Department of Labor and represents May 2008 mean wage estimates.