Five High-Paying, Low-Stress Jobs
By Bridget Quigg, PayScale.com 

Imagine the following scenario. Someone asks you how work is going and you say, “Not bad. The pay is great and the stress is manageable.” According to research from online salary database PayScale.com, that could be your reality if you choose one of the following well-paying jobs where workers report below-average levels of stress.

PayScale.com collects salary and job information from employees around the country and has found that the most enviable gigs are typically knowledge-based and require highly specialized training and education.

“Being smart at something really helps you feel happy,” says Katie Bardaro, lead research analyst at PayScale.com. “The more preparation you put into a career, the more you can define your career, such as being able to set your schedule and your tasks.”

She adds that not having the pressure of being “a cog in the machine alleviates some stress.” It seems that being able to walk into a room and command everyone’s attention as you share your expertise makes you less likely to crave that sixth cup of coffee.

Perhaps the promise of a career like this will inspire you to get the degree or additional job training you need to land one of these five high-paying, low-stress jobs.

1. Optometrist
Median Annual Salary: $99,200

Good attention to detail and a strong background in the sciences help optometrists diagnose vision problems, prescribe vision-correcting eyewear and help manage eye diseases like glaucoma. In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree and doctorate, optometrists must pass state and national exams. After all that, apparently, they are pretty happy. Job prospects are excellent, with 24 percent job growth expected through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Find optometrist jobs.

2. Materials Scientist
Median Annual Salary: $90,600

Synthetic fibers, lubricants, leak-proof materials -- these are a few of the products created by materials scientists. They need strong chemistry backgrounds and at least a bachelor’s degree to get started. Those holding a PhD often specialize in areas such as analytical chemistry or polymer chemistry.

Find materials scientist jobs.

3. Economist
Median Annual Salary: $85,600

Economists pay attention to the distribution of goods and resources. They may focus on money, natural resources or other valuables, and often work to predict future outcomes. Those with a PhD fare best in what can be a very competitive job market. You have to be willing to produce plenty of reports and analyses based on hours of number crunching. The government employs the majority of economists, according to the BLS.

Find economist jobs.

4. Aeronautical Engineer
Median Annual Salary: $82,800

Who wouldn’t feel inspired working on the wonder of flight every day? From lowering aircraft weight and fuel needs to improving safety, aeronautical engineers spend a lot of time rethinking and improving how we travel through the air. Aeronautical engineers typically have a bachelor’s degree to start, but many earn master’s degrees and pass both licensing and professional advancement exams.

Find aeronautical engineer jobs.

5. User Experience Designer 
Median Annual Salary: $79,100

User experience (UX) designers optimize any experience where humans interact with objects, such as board games, ATMs and cars. For example, in a world where nearly anyone can create a Web site in hours, leading companies often hire UX designers to make their site more attractive and easy to use. UX designers come from a variety of disciplines, including psychology, industrial design and anthropology.

“I work on projects just as they start or even initiate the project myself,” says Mike Bibik, a senior UX designer in Seattle. “This affords [me] a greater amount of influence, and I am not dealing with the stress of project decisions or directions with which I disagree.”

Find user experience designer jobs.

Source: All salary data provided by online salary database PayScale.com. Salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time workers with five to eight years of experience and include all bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.

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