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A healthier, happier you: 5 low-stress careers for 2013

Low Stress at Work

by Karl Fendelander | February 11, 2013



Stress does all sorts of terrible things to your body. This reaction, meant to give us the necessary boost to fight or fly when faced with a life-threatening situation, is a relic of a different era, as dangerous and vestigial as an appendix that's ready to burst. Just a few of the things that stress can do to the human body when left unchecked:

  • It slows and shuts down major bodily processes like digestion, growth and healing.
  • It causes deterioration of everything from your gums to your heart.
  • One of its major byproducts, cortisol, causes plaque to build up in your arteries.
  • It puts you at risk for numerous health disorders, like heart disease, insomnia, digestive issues, depression, obesity, memory impairment, skin problems and many more.

In the wild, to put it bluntly, all of these things are better than being eaten, so the fight-or-flight response makes perfect sense. In the workplace, however, there is no fighting nor flying. You just sit there as your body dumps rocket fuel into your veins. It can come from high workloads, impending deadlines, hierarchical structures (i.e., being at the bottom of totem pole) or simply being in a position that's not suited to you. Hating your job isn't mandatory and neither is killing yourself trying to do it.

5 low-stress careers for 2013 that don't require bachelor's degrees

Imagine your life with a job you're totally content with. Imagine enjoying your work and enjoying doing it well. CareerCast developed a methodology for rating jobs by stress level. Check out these careers from their top-ten list of least stressful careers that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) may not require anything more than a two-year degree, which could allow you to start working towards the light at the end of your tunnel today. (Education requirements from the BLS unless otherwise noted.)

  1. Seamstress or tailor. People come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, which means that, while clothes might make the wo/man, they don't always always fit perfectly from the store. As seamstress or a tailor, you'd be helping people with this dilemma, creatively mending or tailoring clothes for the perfect fit. Because the job requires concentration and attention to detail, most people in these professions work in a peaceful atmosphere. There's no education requirement to enter the field, but if you want to step things up, an associate degree in fashion design might be able to help you get started on a promising career letting your own style shine.
  2. Medical records technician. Found in hospitals and the offices of every dentist, doctor, optometrist, surgeon, podiatrist, and nearly every other health practitioner, medical records technicians keep the files in order and make sure that it's all accurate, accessible and secure. While there's no specific degree requirement, the BLS reports many employers look for professionally certified employees, those with associate degrees in health care administration or both (BLS.gov, 2012). The smaller the office, the less stressful the position, so look for non-hospital openings.
  3. Jeweler. If you've got an eye for design, love a quiet work environment and want to work with your hands, a career as a jeweler might be right up your alley. You may also have the opportunity to sell precious gems, minerals and metals -- and in a market that's seen gold prices almost quadruple in the past decade, that can be pretty lucrative. There's no official degree requirement, but courses in jewelry design and repair might help you get your foot in the door in a market dominated by on-the-job experience.
  4. Medical laboratory technician. Much like medical records positions, the least stressful jobs are found away from busy hospitals, but by and large, medical lab technicians work in quiet environments that allow for careful analysis of samples. Positions in this field typically require a medical laboratory technician associate degree and/or professional certification.
  5. Hairstylist. As fast-paced as this profession can be, a good hairstylist or barber makes a living making people feel happy and look great all day long (and the fast pace makes time go by quickly). Workers in this profession get a chance to be creative all day long, whether it's coming up with a new look for a client or figuring out how to make a classic haircut work in spite of a cowlick. To work in this field, you need a license, which you can get by graduating from a state-certified program and passing a licensing test.
Don't stay in an overly stressful job until the doctor tells you that it's killing you. It's never too late to change career paths, and thanks to online schooling, you can get the training you need while still working your other job. And remember: any job can be stressful if it's not a good fit or you're working for the wrong people, just because a job falls into one of the categories above doesn't mean it's necessarily low-stress. Take the time to vet prospective employers before accepting another stress-ridden killer career, and make sure they care about you.

About the Author

Karl Fendelander cut his teeth on web writing in the late nineties and has been plugged in to the newest technology and tuned in to the latest trends ever since. With an eye for design and an ear for language, Karl has created content and managed digital media for startups and established companies alike. When he unplugs, Karl can be found biking about town and hiking and climbing throughout the West.