US News & World Report released its list of the best-paying jobs in America and healthcare jobs and dominated the list. Anesthesiologists raked in the top salaries making an average of $265,990. That job was followed by general surgeons ($251,890), oral and maxillofacial surgeons ($242,740), ob-gyns ($235,240) and orthodontists ($229,380).
And while it’s nice to rake in the big bucks, workers in most of these jobs had above average levels of stress, the US News analysis found — something that’s increasingly a concern to workers. Indeed, about two in three workers say that their stress levels at work are higher today than they were five years ago, according to a survey by global consulting firm Korn Ferry. What’s more, three-quarters of people say that stress at work has negatively impacted personal relationships and two in three say that they’ve lost sleep due to work stress. And 16 percent have quit a job because of stress.
So Marketwatch asked US News what jobs both paid six figures and where employees had lower than average stress. Sadly, just one job fit the bill: Orthodontist, which pays an average of $229,380 and has both below average stress and above average levels of work-life balance. (Stress levels and work-life balance for each profession were determined by interviews with people in each profession; salaries were determined by government data.)
“Unlike other health care workers, orthodontists typically don’t have to handle medical emergencies. Plus, they may have the flexibility to set their own hours,” explains Rebecca Koenig, the careers reporter at US News, of why they’re not that stressed and have a lot of work-life balance.
Even if you don’t want to be an orthodontist, you can get a high-paying job with higher than average work-life balance and just average stress levels, Koenig notes. These include dentist (median salary $151,440), optometrist ($110,300), mathematician ($103,010), software developer ($101,790).
Of course, it may not be possible to switch careers so you can lower your stress level. So we asked career experts to share some tips for making a stressful job bearable. First up: “Identify clearly what your stressors are and then develop a plan for managing them,” says Call to Career founder Cheryl Palmer. “Is it your boss, your co-workers, the type of work itself? Each stressor may require a different approach.”
You also should focus on what’s important for you to do at your job and what’s not — and stop doing what’s not important, whether that’s agreeing to after-work drinks or helping new employees learn the ropes. “Work stress is inevitable, but trying to take on more than you can handle (physically and/or emotionally) can make things worse,” says Palmer.
If you do find yourself stressed at work, it can help to remove yourself from the situation. “Take a walk. Go to the gym at lunch and get your sweat on. Watch a funny video on YouTube,” says career strategist and coach Carlota Zimmerman.
And don’t let it seep into your home life if possible. “You will be stressed all the time if you are constantly brooding over your work situation even when you are not physically there. It is emotionally healthy to focus on pleasant things outside of work so that you have some balance,” says Palmer.