We probably don’t have to tell you that there are some jobs that pay very well but that come with a lot of stress. The company CareerCast recently reported on the most stressful jobs of 2015 and some of them don’t even pay that well. For example, one of the most stressful was firefighter followed by enlisted military personnel, airline pilot, police officer, actor (yes, actor) and broadcaster. Of these jobs, airline pilot pays the most at $98,410, while firefighters have a median annual salary $45,600 or only about half of what airline pilots average. Unfortunately the worse is enlisted military personnel as they have a median annual salary of just $28,840. Choose police officer and you could look forward to an average median salary of $56,980 while actors have a median annual salary of $46,070.
How about more than $100,000?
If you’d like to earn more than $100,000 a year without the kind of stress encountered by an airline pilot or police officer, there are alternatives. You just have to do your research and get to know your options. The company Payscale found at least nine jobs that come with high pay and low stress. The salaries given here are the national median annual total cash compensation, which includes salary or wage, plus bonuses, profit sharing, commissions and so on. The percentages quoted here are the percentages of the respondents that were surveyed and answered that their jobs were “relaxing,” “not stressful” or “a little stressful” when they were asked if their jobs were stressful.
Reservoir Engineer ($136,000, 66%)
You probably never thought about becoming a reservoir engineer or even what one does. Well, despite what you might think, these are not people that sit around and worry about reservoirs failing. What they do is modeling studies to determine the value of exploration and the potential production of oil fields.
Patent Attorney ($146,000, 54%)
The world is a swarm with ideas for new products and services and most have to be patented. Patent attorneys help protect the intellectual property of people and organizations. This job comes with the added advantage of continually being exposed to the latest in technology and assisting start-up companies with creating a portfolio of their intellectual properties.
Does the idea of analyzing and managing large caches of data interest you? The ever-growing importance of “big data” has created a growing need for data scientists. As companies decide to mine increasing amounts of data there should continue to be jobs for people in this job category.
Geophysicist ($115,000, 56%)
What does a geophysicist do? They typically analyze and study the earth’s shape and how layers, plates and other segments of the earth shift and move. Geophysicists also research the planet’s atmosphere as well as other physical phenomenon.
User-experience Research ($99,300, 62%)
This is a job that literally didn’t even exist just a few years ago. What these people do is analyze websites and stores and how customers interact with them. Called UX for short these people work to identify the needs and goals of the company’s users. They also interface with other of the company’s’ divisions or departments to keep the experiences of their customers efficient.
Principal Scientist ($117,000, 48%)
These are the people that lead research groups. They are managers in charge of scientists and review their employees’ performances annually while managing all of the company’s research.
Actuary ($97,700, 63%)
Actuaries calculate what risk costs financially. To be an actuary generally requires a degree in mathematics or statistics. Actuaries are generally employed by insurance companies but may also work for independent actuarial firms or for organizations whose goal is to keep abreast of the levels of the various risks they undertake.
Principle Software Engineer ($115,000, 48%)
These people supervise research into component design and new technologies. They generally develop, design and judge new software, and supervise system integrations within their companies.
As you can imagine Lead Software Engineers, Principal Scientists, and Data Scientists do have some amount of stress in their work. However, as you have read the highest percentages reported for people in these jobs who said that their jobs were “relaxing,”, not stressful” or “a little stressful” was 66% to a low of 48%. To put this another way, two thirds of the reservoir engineers surveyed felt their jobs were not very stressful versus the nearly half (48%) of Lead Software Engineers.
CareerCast predicts a worker’s stress level by looking at the typical demands of the job and the crises it comes with. It has a ranking system that considers 11 different job demands that can reasonably be expected to create stress. It affords a high score if a particular demand was a large part of the job, fewer points if the demand was a small part of the job and no points if that demand was not generally required. As you might guess, the higher the score the more stressful is the job.
The relationship between stress and income
CareerCasts’ 2015 Jobs Rated Report found that enlisted military members with the lowest median annual salary have the highest job-related stress score of 70.78 while police officers scored 50.82, actors 50.33, and broadcasters 50.30. In comparison, it found the least stressful jobs to be hairstylist at 5.47, audiologist at 6.30, tenured university professor at 6.94 and medical records technologist at 7.55. There are some jobs in this category that also pay well though not as well as Geophysicist or Principal Scientist. For example, the median annual salary of a tenured university professor is $95,000 while that of an audiologist is $69,720 and a dietician ‘s median annual salary is $58,240. On the other hand, some of the jobs with very low stress also come with very low pay. The median annual salary of a hairstylist is just $22,770 while that of a medical records technician is $34,160.
As you can see there is a fairly tight correlation between job salary and education. Jobs such as Geophysicist, Lead Software Engineer and Reservoir Engineer may pay well and be less stressful but require at least a bachelor’s degree and possibly a graduate degree. A tenured university professor may make good money without much stress but will need at least a master’s degree and quite possibly a PhD. Conversely, jobs that come with very little stress such as medical records technician or hairstylist generally require just a high school degree and a few months of specialized training. Somewhere in the middle are the jobs of firefighters and police officers, which in this day and age often require a college degree – despite the fact that their pay is only average.