There's more to life than work, but that doesn't mean your job won't be one of the most important parts of your life. Finding a great job involves a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work and training, but for most people, a "great job" means more than just making a lot of money. Many of this year's best jobs happen to be well-compensated, but the very best jobs also burden workers with only modest levels of stress -- and when you get right down to it, it's almost always better when your job doesn't stress you out all the time.
The best jobs and the least stressful jobs might not be exactly the same, but few people would argue with the notion that less stress on the job can pay dividends in the rest of your life. Job network CareerCast recently put together a list of the least stressful jobs of 2014. CareerCast ranked a number of professions on a scale from 1 to 100, grading each by frequency of travel, professional growth potential, deadline intensity, physical demands, competitiveness, environmental conditions, and several other factors can might frazzle even the toughest of nerves. The jobs that wound up with the lowest stress score were typically easy on the body, offered stable and comfortable workplaces, and didn't burden workers with constant deadline demands or unexpected risks. Let's take a look at the five most stressful jobs on the list for 2014 now.
5. Seamstress (or tailor)
While sewing clothes can be monotonous, it can also offer the opportunity to flex creative muscles within a relatively small and oft-overlooked field -- all the better to establish a professional niche. Seamstresses and tailors ensure that clothes fit just right, and are also called on to create new "bespoke" clothes on occasion for more fashion-forward customers. There's not much in the way of travel, danger, or unpredictability here, although hunching over a sewing machine for long hours can get a little uncomfortable.
- Job stress score (1-100): 9.50
- Entry-level education: High school diploma
- Median salary: $26,280
- Number of jobs in 2012: 24,870
- Projected job growth (2012-2022): 250 (1% job growth)
4. Tenured university professor
Tenured professors enjoy a special freedom on campus that their non-tenured peers don't. This doesn't mean tenured professors are completely insulated from real work -- they're still required to teach frequently and are expected to publish more often -- but tenure is a protective reward for academics that have proved to their peers and their employers that their work has great value. Most professors aren't tenured, which can be problematic as the college world is increasingly wracked by cost and quality concerns, but tenured educators aren't likely to fear the layoff ax, as only 2% of tenured faculty are dismissed each year, according to the National Education Association. That security alone can remove a huge burden from a professor's professional life and allow them to concentrate on their true passions.
- Job stress score (1-100): 8.43
- Entry-level education: Postgraduate education (typically a Ph.D.)
- Median salary: $68,970
- Number of jobs in 2012: 1,267,700
- Projected job growth (2012-2022): 236,400 (19% job growth)
That nice ring or necklace you bought for your significant other was probably put together by a jeweler, who might have been responsible for all aspects of its design, from the initial gemstone purchase to the cut of that gemstone and the design of the overall piece of jewelry it wound up in. About a third of all jewelers are self-employed, and many sell their wares at craft shows in their spare time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rest get a rather stable work environment with few pressing deadline concerns, and their best output is widely acclaimed as beautiful works of art. There aren't going to be many opportunities for new jewelers to enter the field, but the more skilled of these craftsmen will always be in demand.
- Job stress score (1-100): 7.26
- Entry-level education: High school diploma
- Median salary: $35,350
- Number of jobs in 2012: 32,700
- Projected job growth (2012-2022): -3,200 (10% job loss)
2. Hairstylist (or barber)
Millions of men and women across America maintain a close and friendly relationship with their barber or hairdresser, whose stylistic efforts can go a long way toward improving someone's appearance and thus boosting their confidence. Whether they're touching up a classic 'do or creating a bold new style, hair-care professionals are always expected to combine creative flair with reliable technical competence as people of all ages and races sit in the elevating chair day after day. The best stylists can earn well above the median pay, but low earning potential for most of the profession can cause some stress elsewhere in life.
- Job stress score (1-100): 5.41
- Entry-level education: Professional credentialing
- Median salary: $22,770
- Number of jobs in 2012: 663,300
- Projected job growth (2012-2022): 83,300 (13% job growth
Audiologists have a pretty sweet gig. Not only do they have the lowest stress of any profession in America, but they also had one of the five best jobs in America last year. There aren't many audiologists in the field today, but we might need a whole lot more in the coming years -- approximately 28 million Americans have a hearing impairment, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and that number has doubled in the past 30 years (the country's population has grown only 35% in that time). Despite being trained medical professionals, audiologists are rarely called on to render emergency assistance, and their patient visits are typically relaxed affairs in comfortable setting. Strong job growth, a nice workplace with no travel demands, low deadline pressure, and high pay all combine to give audiologists a pretty stress-free professional life.
- Job stress score (1-100): 3.35
- Entry-level education: Doctoral degree
- Median salary: $69,720
- Number of jobs in 2012: 13,000
- Projected job growth (2012-2022): 4,300 (34% job growth)
Do you agree or disagree with this list? Is your job pretty stress-free, too? Would you like to have one of these jobs, or is a bit more pressure a good thing when it comes to workplace satisfaction? Take a look at CareerCast's full list of the 10 least stressful jobs in America, and then let the world know what you think about these rankings by leaving a comment below.
Don't wait another day to start investing in your future
You've been hard at work building a good career for yourself. Now, are you ready to take the next step in your life and start building your financial future as well? The key is to learn how to turn business insights into portfolio gold by taking your first steps as an investor. Those who wait on the sidelines are missing out on huge gains and putting their financial futures in jeopardy. In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal finance experts show you what you need to get started, and even gives you access to some stocks to buy first. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.
All images sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.