Main image of article 10 Low-Stress Tech Jobs That Feature Solid Pay

Are all tech jobs stressful? The short answer is “no.” While some tech jobs involve long hours, complex deliverables, and scant resources as part of their day-to-day, others allow you to maintain excellent work-life balance and won’t leave you a burned-out husk. But which jobs are truly low-stress? Read on.

What causes workplace stress?

Before we proceed further, it’s important to define a low-stress job. While the definition can vary from person to person, we can point to the following as factors that determine the stress of a particular position:

Workload: On a day-to-day basis, some tech professionals face a crushing workload. They might face a list of tasks that would ordinarily be covered by two or three people. This workload may also involve jumping rapidly between different skills and disciplines, which can also lead to excessive stress.

Deadlines: Short, hard deadlines can quickly ramp up your blood pressure. Some companies force tech professionals to deliver at a rapid cadence (particularly startups), while deadlines at other organizations might be a little longer and more flexible. Deadlines often come with management pressure, and dealing with a harried manager on top of everything else is a recipe for an extremely stressful work environment.  

Job Security: If you feel like your job could end at any moment, you might be stressed out. However, if you feel like you have a lot of job security, you’re more likely to relax. Those with a high level of job security are also more likely to feel empowered to negotiate with management for the things they want, like flexible schedules and better salaries.

Annual Salaries: If your annual salary is too low, you might feel a constant stress over money and whether you can pay your bills. Many companies take pains to ensure their tech professionals are well-compensated, but not all of them will pay a salary commensurate with the amount of stress you face.

What should I look for in a low-stress tech job?

When it comes to stress and workloads, everybody is different. Here are some things to look for if you’re on the hunt for a low-stress tech job; as you’ll quickly note, many of these are the flip side of the items listed in the section above:

Solid work-life balance: Everyone needs time to recharge their mental batteries. Ideally, a tech professional works a schedule that allows them to also easily address any family concerns, commute, etc. without feeling too squeezed.

Good bosses: You know how the truism goes: you don’t quit a company—you quit your manager. It’s great when you have an understanding and sympathetic manager who gives you what you need; it’s horrible when a manager presses you constantly to achieve impossible goals on ultra-tight deadlines.

Great benefits and perks: Do you want subsidized training and education? How about free food in the office kitchen? Or maybe commuting subsidies and childcare are more to your liking. When you get the perks and benefits you want, you generally tend to enjoy your work environment a lot more.

A solid career trajectory: Companies that provide their tech professionals with a clear career path and opportunities for advancement tend to have happier employees. Burnout isn’t just a factor of excessive workloads; workers who feel “trapped” in their current positions are more likely to mentally fry.

What are some low-stress tech jobs?

More tech professionals than ever are looking for low-stress jobs, according to a recent article in Business Insider. Many of these tech pros are turning away from startups and other fast-paced companies, and opting for jobs at larger firms where workloads are distributed across large teams (and deadlines might not come at such a rapid clip). Some also gravitate toward government, where the pace is often much slower (unless you’re involved in defense or cybersecurity, in which case, things can get chaotic very quickly).

In other words, it’s not just about the role itself—it’s also where you work. U.S. News and World Report has an annual list of jobs that combine relatively low stress with high pay and opportunity for advancement; here are the notable tech ones on that list:

  • Software developer
  • Information security analyst
  • IT manager
  • Web developer
  • Management analyst
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Data scientist
  • Database administrator
  • Statistician
  • Biomedical engineer

What do these jobs have in common? They all involve specialized skills of some sort—whether the programming languages essential to working as a software developer or the analytical knowledge you need for any kind of analyst role. They also tend to pay well, and have enough leverage within the organization for their practitioners to gain additional concessions.

How can I make my tech job lower-stress?

Over the years, Dice has surveyed tech pros about their reasons for high stress and burnout, which usually include (in descending order of importance):

  • Workload
  • Hours worked
  • Lack of recognition for work
  • Lack of challenges/monotony

No matter what your job and stress levels, you have options. If you’re suffering from excessive stress, start by talking to your manager about your workload and schedule; if you’re afflicted with “schedule creep,” for example, you can come up with a solution that will reduce your workload and your working hours. If you want to work from home more often, raise the point with your manager that operating from your home office will allow you to engage in more uninterrupted “deep work.”

But ultimately, this all comes down to open communication: if you don’t speak up, your stressful situation will continue. If you’re feeling trapped in your current career trajectory, ask your manager for more opportunities to train, learn, and advance—considering how the notably low unemployment rate for technology professionals (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) is fueling high demand for all kinds of tech specialists, your company will likely try to meet your requirements.