According to the American Institute of Stress, work is by far the largest source of stress for American adults, and it has escalated rapidly in the last few decades. This pressure can affect one’s physical and emotional health, and, as at least two studies report, may help explain an increase in workplace violence. Stressed out workers are not the only ones who suffer: spouses and children are affected too, and businesses lose billions each year due to stress-related absenteeism.

Though the AIS reports that as many as four in five workers report feeling stressed, a recent CareerCast analysis suggests some jobs are traditionally more stressful than others — especially those where employees face unpredictable, dangerous or high-stakes situations. Jobs that require one to travel often, meet tight deadlines or work in the public eye also tend to be stressful. Based on these criteria, CareerCast reports that the most stressful job in 2014 is enlisted military, followed by military general and firefighter. Airline pilots, event coordinators and public relations specialists also made the list, as did senior business executives, police officers and newspaper reporters. In other words, those who would rather not go to work in a pressure cooker each day should reconsider pursuing these jobs, or else find ways to manage their stress.

What about those looking for relatively stress-free work? Thankfully, CareerCast published a second list identifying some of the least stressful jobs in America using the same criteria noted above. Here are four of them, including what they entail, and — perhaps most importantly — how you can pursue them.

Four low-stress jobs — and what it takes to land them


Audiologists help diagnose hearing and balance problems in patients using a variety of procedures and equipment. They also topped CareerCast’s list of the least stressful jobs in America in 2014, thanks in part to what audiologist Debbie Abel called their rewarding relationships with patients. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, audiologists can work in healthcare facilities like hospitals and doctors’ offices, or in private audiology clinics. Some might also work for school districts, especially on a contract basis. Other key audiology career data, as reported by the BLS:

  • Education – Most states require audiologists to earn a doctoral degree in audiology, or Au.D., which typically takes four years beyond the baccalaureate level. One need not have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field to be admitted to an Au.D. program.
  • Earnings – The BLS reports that the median annual salary for audiologists in May 2012 was $69,720.
  • Job outlook – The BLS projects that demand for audiologists will grow by 34 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is much faster than the national average. Aging baby boomers — and their age-related hearing ailments — will contribute to this strong growth.


Hairstyling is the second least stressful job in the country, according to CareerCast’s assessment. These professionals typically wash, color, cut and style clients hair in a salon or spa setting, usually on a part-time basis. The BLS notes that nearly half of hairstylists were self-employed in 2012. Other key trends, per the BLS:

  • Education – All states require hairstylists to be licensed to work, which means they must each complete a state-approved cosmetology program and meet any additional, ongoing training criteria.
  • Earnings – The BLS reports that hairstylists earned a median of $22,770 per year as of May 2012. Those working more hours or in higher-end salons tend to earn the most.
  • Job outlook – The BLS projects that demand for hairstylists and related professionals will grow by 13 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2022.

Medical records technician

Medical records technicians — also called health information technicians — earned the number seven spot on CareerCast’s list of least stressful jobs for 2014. These professionals organize and manage patient health data in paper or computer form, and according to the BLS, must ensure all health data is accurate, accessible and secure. Many medical record techs master more than one classification or coding system to record health information for insurance purposes, in databases or registries, and to maintain internal medical and treatment histories. These professionals typically work in physicians’ offices. Other notable job trends:

  • Education – The BLS notes that most medical records technicians earn associate degrees or postsecondary certificates in an area like health information technology. Some employers require additional professional certification, especially among those specializing in a particular area of health care, like oncology.
  • Earnings – These professionals earned a median annual wage of $34,160 in May 2012.
  • Job outlook – The BLS expects demand for medical records technicians to grow by 22 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2022.

Multimedia artist

Multimedia artists came in ninth on CareerCast’s least stressful jobs ranking. According to the BLS, these artists create animation and visual effects for various forms of media, including video games, television and movies. They often work in an office-like setting, but some freelance or telecommute from home. Other notable trends:

  • Education – The BLS notes that while most employers prefer to hire multimedia artists with at least a bachelor’s degree in an area like computer graphics, those without formal education can sometimes get by with a broad portfolio that demonstrates strong technical skill.
  • Earnings – According to the BLS, these professionals earned a median annual wage of $61,370 in 2012.
  • Job outlook – The BLS projects that demand for multimedia artists will grow by just 6 percent between 2012 and 2022, which means job competition could be fierce. Opportunities should be best with those who have a wide range of skills, or are especially experienced in one particular area of design.

The above careers are just a few of those CareerCast expects to be light on stress in 2014. Others that made the top 10 include jewelers, tenured university professors, tailors, and dietitians. Landing one of these jobs does not necessarily spare one from workplace stress, however. According to the AIS, how one feels in a particular job is highly individual: where one person shirks danger and risk, another thrives. Still, with the right training and experience, many of these professionals can expect to reap the rewards of a relatively low-stress work life.

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