14 Low-Stress Jobs That Pay Well Without a Degree

February 25, 2024

Low-Stress Jobs that Pay Well Without a Degree

Maybe you’re ready and excited to go after that bachelor’s degree, but maybe not. If you’re saving money for college, or you’d simply prefer to begin working right away than spend seemingly endless years in school, there’s good news: it is, in fact, possible to make a solid living with no degree. In addition, if you choose wisely, you can make a decent living without being constantly bogged down by job stress. Continue reading for some great options for high-paying, low-stress jobs for all kinds of skill sets and workplace preferences. Before we dive into the 14 low-stress jobs that pay well without a degree, we have some questions to address:

What leads to stress in a job?

Before we talk about which jobs are less stressful, we should mention the causes of workplace stress that you might be aiming to avoid for an overall less stressful lifestyle. Here are 5 stressful factors to watch out for when job-seeking:

1) Excessive workload: this might seem obvious, but especially in a moment when workers can take meetings from home and check emails on their phones (while on a lunch “break,” or even while lying in bed at night), work-related tasks and thoughts can literally take over all waking hours. Many jobs these days are fully remote, which makes it even more difficult to structure a separation between “work time” and “relaxing time.” We recommend seeking a job that makes it possible to leave work at work, or at least confine it to a specific set of hours.

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2) Concerns related to job security: Though it’s difficult to find a job with 100% security, some jobs are more secure than others. You may want to look for a job that has renewable or longer contracts. Also, a job that pays a consistent amount by the hour, month, or year may be less stressful than, say, a restaurant job in which pay usually depends on the day’s tips.

3) Unreliable management: It’s difficult to be low-stress in an employment situation with unreliable management. If you find that your manager says one thing and does another, or gives you more work than what’s in your job description (a frequent problem, unfortunately), unreliable management could be leading to your stress. High rates of employee turnover (meaning, employees are constantly quitting and being replaced) frequently signify poor management.

4) Lack of communication and transparency: Often related to unreliable management, a lack of communication at the workplace can certainly lead to a stressful experience. The changing of work expectations without a conversation or updated contract (or better yet, a pay raise) is a common example of this. Or maybe you find that you’re having to waste your time redoing assignments (this could also point to a lack of communication, and could certainly lead to increased stress at work).

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5) Generally bad workplace environment: This one is popularly referred to as “bad vibes.” Are employees on bad terms with each other and with the manager? Is there excessive workplace gossip, or is the environment overly competitive? Are you just in a bad mood by the end of the day, every day? In general, if employees seem to dislike their jobs or one other, this negative social dynamic can lead to heightened stress.

On the other hand, a job in which the workload is reasonable and well-communicated, in which you are allowed to leave work at work, and in which the manager responds to emails and coworkers are kind, can lead to lower stress levels in and out of the workplace. This is no small thing: experts say that those who are less stressed are likely to have lower blood pressure and better memory. They are also less likely to experience digestive issues, develop sleep problems, and even experience strokes. So, continue reading for jobs that could help you maintain your mental and physical health while also paying the bills.

14 Low-Stress That Pay Well Without a Degree

Here are 14 jobs you may not have thought of that could be great options for you. Depending on the workplace, these jobs have the potential to be low-stress and well-paid (with no degree necessary). (Note that the median salaries come from a large range, and they may vary largely by city and region).

1) Dental Assistant

Dental assistants work under the supervision of dentists to perform basic procedures and help with administrative tasks, including welcoming patients into the office, maintaining patient records, and setting follow-up appointments. They also keep dental tools sanitized and well-maintained. These employees must be punctual, organized, and kind to visitors. A high-school diploma and/or associate’s degree can help you in landing this job.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2022 dental assistants made a median salary of $44,820 per year.

2) Dog Groomer/Trainer/Walker

 For the animal lovers reading out there, jobs related to dog care (and other pet care) are often low-stress and pay fairly well. Some groomers, trainers, and walkers work for companies or kennels, and others have their own businesses. This set of jobs requires great social skills, since it involves communicating clearly and treating owners (and of course, their pets) with understanding and kindness.

Dog walkers make a median salary of $33,526 per year (though in places like New York City they sometimes make much, much more), while groomers and trainers often make closer to $40k.

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3) Floral Designer

Floral designers produce specialized floral arrangements based on customer needs. Often, they create wedding bouquets, wreaths, and corsages, arranging real and artificial flowers in original designs. Though artistic, this job also involves customer service skills and the ability to complete tasks such as negotiating prices, fulfilling large orders, and communicating with vendors. Delivery is sometimes necessary.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, floral designers made a median pay of $33,160 in 2022.

4) Graphic Designer

Graphic designers design visuals manually or through computer software, in order to express ideas to consumers that are eye-catching, engaging, and informative. Businesses often hire graphic designers to work on advertisements, websites, magazines, and brochures. While some graphic designers have university degrees, others have gained skills through non-university design courses or they have taught themselves. If you’re thinking of a career in graphic design, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with common online tools (Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Photoshop are common ones) and start building a portfolio to showcase your skills to companies. Note that graphic designers working for companies or agencies might have more stable and stress-free jobs than freelance designers.

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Graphic designers made a median salary of $57,990 in 2022.

5) Hairstylist

Another job for those who are artistic and detail-oriented, hairstylists are responsible for providing haircuts and washes, coloring hair, selling products, and maintaining clean environments with friendly customer service. While a university degree is not required for this job, hairstylists should have active cosmetology licenses.

Hairstylists make a median salary of $33,290.

6) Hearing Aid Specialists

Assisting audiologists, these specialists perform hearing evaluations so that clients can select and receive proper assistance with fitting and adjustment. This job requires patient consultations and technical expertise in hearing aid technology and audiology, and the workplace environment is generally low-stress. Two years of training and an apprenticeship can help you to land a position in this role.

In 2022, hearing aid specialists made a median salary of $59,020.

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7) Interpreter/Translator

Interpreters and translators are necessary for facilitating communication with global partners and clients, and bridging language barriers. If you speak multiple languages and can translate across them, this could be a great job for you.

Interpreters and translators in the US made a median salary of $53,640 in 2022.

8) Library Technician

Library technicians can be employed by public libraries, schools, universities, and government organizations, working under the management of a librarian to acquire materials, help readers use catalogs, and organize books once returned. If you love books and thrive in quiet environments, this could be a perfect gig. Computer competency and interpersonal skills are useful for the job.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that library technicians make $37,600 per year.

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9) Medical Assistant

Are you interested in working in a healthcare environment, but perhaps less interested in acquiring a medical or nursing degree? Medical assistants are essential employees at many medical facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and general physicians’ offices. They take on jobs such as acquiring patient records and test results, arranging treatment rooms, administering medicines to patients, and completing general administrative tasks. To acquire a job as a medical assistant, you might want to complete a medical assistant program and gain some internship experience. Additionally, it will help to have excellent customer service skills and background knowledge of patient care.

As of January 2024, the average medical assistant in the United States makes $40,362 per year.

10) Massage Therapist

How about a relatively low-stress job that also eases the stress of others? Massage therapists can calm and de-stress their patients, and help to ease their muscle tension and pain. These professionals can also choose to specialize in areas that most interest them, from acupressure, to deep-tissue massage, to sports massage. Massage therapists can work in spas, sports centers, or healthcare centers, or they can open their own businesses. Becoming a massage therapist requires a certification. It’s a great job for those who enjoy using their hands (this can become effortful) and interacting with others.

According to U.S. News and World Report, massage therapists made a median salary of $49,860 in 2022.

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11) Optician

Opticians, often employed adjacent to optometry centers, analyze eye prescriptions provided by optometrists (who prescribe glasses, contact lenses, and other vision aids). This job involves customer service skills, since opticians assist patients in choosing the best pair of glasses and readjusting eyewear (dexterity can also be useful here). Overall, this is a low-stress job that allows employees to leave work at work. While you don’t need a college degree to become an optician, you will need to undergo training and an apprenticeship program that allows you to acquire an associate degree in optics.

Opticians made a median salary of $39,610 in 2022.

12) Personal Trainer

 Often working at health and fitness centers, personal trainers conduct fitness assessments and build individual exercise programs depending on their clients’ needs. They sometimes also offer nutritional guidance, teach yoga or various fitness classes, and assist with membership and other administrative tasks at fitness centers. This is a good job for those who prefer to be physically active and socially-minded throughout the day. Trainers are often required to have First Aid and CPR certifications, in addition to others. Some may choose to become certified to teach yoga, Pilates, barre, or other fitness programs.

Personal trainers make around $42,589 per year.

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13) Security Guard

Security guards are responsible for monitoring surveillance cameras, patrolling assigned perimeters, and responding to alarms, among other duties. Though some days may be calm and quiet, security guards must be ready to act if there is an emergency. Often, security guards have high school diplomas and First Aid certifications. They also usually must have clean criminal records and excellent communication and observation skills.

In 2022, security guards made a median salary of $34,750.

14) Travel Agent

A travel agent helps clients with planning vacations. This job involves seeking out ideal destinations for them, matching them with hotels and transportation arrangements, and putting together activity lists. Travel agents must have excellent organizational and communication skills in order to plan all travel services (transportation, accommodations, insurance, among others) and communicate with clients. They must also network with tour operators and deal with travel problems that may occur.

The average travel agent salary in the U.S. is $42,936.

Final Thoughts: Low-Stress Jobs That Pay Well Without a Degree

Hopefully, this information has been helpful as you dream up career possibilities that allow you to make money and also keep your stress level low. For more information about jobs that are good for your mental health (including some options for landing jobs without a bachelor’s degree) check out the following articles: