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7 High-Paying Medical Careers That are Low Stress

Last Updated June 19, 2023

Are you ready for a low-stress career in health care that pays well? It's possible to achieve that goal with less than four years of college-level training. Plus, many career options are associated with high satisfaction and strong job growth.

Get Ready for an Enjoyable Career in Less Than 4 Years

Preparing for high-paying, low-stress medical careers is easier than you probably ever imagined. Just think about how awesome it would be to pursue healthcare jobs that pay well and offer solid opportunities, job security, personal fulfillment, and low-stress work environments. What's even more incredible is that many of those jobs require less than four years of education.

Many schools offer short certificate, diploma, associate, and bachelor's degree programs. You can open yourself up to impressive healthcare job opportunities in less time than you thought possible. And many of those jobs are projected to have a large number of openings in the upcoming years.

With a short amount of vocational trade school or college training, you could be in a great position to go after a career you'll love. A career that rewards you for taking care of other people and helping to improve their lives. If that sounds great, keep reading to find out what those jobs are and what you can expect from them.

We've compiled a medical careers list covering seven jobs with relatively short training times. Additionally, these jobs offer a combination of good pay, low stress, and strong job satisfaction. (Read more to find out how we determined those factors.) We have included the median salary for each career. You can also find out the education typically required for an entry-level position and the average time to complete that training as a full-time student. And you can explore job satisfaction and stress-level considerations for each job and related careers that you may want to investigate. You might uncover the career path you were meant to follow in just a few minutes!

  1. Biomedical Engineer
  2. Dental Hygienist
  3. Ultrasound Technician
  4. Radiologic Technologist
  5. Dietitian or Nutritionist
  6. Occupational Therapy Assistant
  7. Physical Therapist Assistant

You can also check out the top 10 highest-paying medical careers that require at least a master's degree.

Salary information is based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) unless otherwise indicated.*

High-Paying Medical Careers That Offer Low Stress

1. Biomedical Engineer

Medical Technology SchoolsBiomedical engineering is a field in which science and math meet health care. This could be an ideal career choice if you want to use your analytical and technical abilities to improve the health and well-being of other people. Biomedical engineers work with engineers, scientists, doctors, nurses, and other professionals from various backgrounds to design, improve, maintain, and repair medical devices like cardiac pacemakers and joint-replacement implants. Some also help develop artificial organs and tissue-engineered skin used for grafting procedures.

As a biomedical engineer, you may find job opportunities with hospitals, universities, research labs, manufacturing companies, and government agencies. You could also focus on a particular specialty, such as diseases, organ systems, or technology. Depending on your career, you might be responsible for developing software for medical equipment, designing new devices, researching emerging technologies, or improving imaging technology. There are many possibilities, all of which have an important role in modern medicine.

  • Median annual salary: $97,410
  • Entry-level education: Bachelor's degree (3 or 4 years)

Job satisfaction and stress-level considerations:

  • Often regarded as a high-paying, low-stress career: Biomedical engineering is considered one of the best jobs for those seeking high-paying medical careers that don't require an advanced degree. It is also one of the occupations that regularly tops the list for low-stress medical jobs.
  • Interesting job responsibilities: The work of a biomedical engineer is often interesting and sometimes challenging, so becoming bored on the job is unlikely.
  • Meaningful work: The work you complete is often related to improving people's quality of living or saving lives, which can provide you with great satisfaction.
  • Workplace diversity: There are many different work environments to choose from, which means you could find a lot of variety and opportunities based on your interests and goals.
  • Low travel requirements: Some local travel may be required if you work on equipment located at a medical facility.
  • Regular hours: Most biomedical engineers work regular hours (Monday through Friday), but some overtime may be required to meet project timelines.
  • High pay and good job opportunities: The potential for good pay and job opportunities can reduce finance- and job-security-associated stress.
  • Manageable workloads and deadlines: There can be a lot of downtime when working with cultures and enzymes, and the deadlines can be quite long when conducting research projects.

Related careers: Medical laboratory technologist or technician and polysomnographic technician

2. Dental Hygienist

Dental Hygienist SchoolsInstead of medical school, consider taking a dental hygiene program that can help prepare you to join the rewarding dental industry. With as little as two years of schooling, you could begin a career that offers both earning potential and ample job opportunities. You could help people live healthier and happier lives by assisting with maintaining and improving their oral health.

You could be responsible for educating patients about proper oral care and helping them feel relaxed while their teeth are being cleaned or repaired. Other responsibilities could include cleaning and polishing teeth, taking and developing x-rays, applying fluoride and sealants, reviewing and updating records and treatment plans, and assisting the dentist with other tasks and procedures. Dental hygiene could be the good-paying, low-stress career that you desire.

  • Median annual salary: $77,810
  • Entry-level education: Associate degree (2 years)

Job satisfaction and stress-level considerations:

  • Make a difference: A great sense of pride and job satisfaction can result from helping people achieve and maintain good oral health.
  • Opportunities for high pay and good jobs: The dental hygiene field offers potential for good earnings. In addition, many job opportunities are expected over the coming years, which can provide greater job security over other medical field careers.
  • Regular hours: Most hygienists work regular weekday hours with little to no overtime.
  • Flexible job options: Some dental offices offer flexible scheduling and part-time work options.
  • Pleasant work environment: Many dental office settings are quiet, pleasant, and low-conflict.
  • Safe work environment: There is little risk of injury, and dental hygiene tasks are not considered physically demanding.

Related careers: Dental assistant and dental office administrator

3. Ultrasound Technician

Ultrasound Tech and SonographyUltrasound technicians, or diagnostic medical sonographers, typically enjoy some of the most fulfilling and least stressful medical careers that also pay quite well. And it doesn't take that much schooling to get ready to enter the field. In two years or less, you could learn to use ultrasound technology. Ultrasound technology is non-invasive and considered one of the safest diagnostic procedures in medicine.

Although ultrasound technology is commonly associated with pregnancy monitoring, it has many other useful purposes. These include diagnosing tumors, evaluating heart conditions, detecting blood clots, determining organ health, and finding the cause of abdominal pain. The work you complete is critical for physicians and other healthcare professionals who need to diagnose and treat their patients appropriately. This line of work can certainly provide you with a high level of pride.

  • Median annual salary: $77,740
  • Entry-level education: Associate degree, diploma, or certificate (1 to 2 years)

Job satisfaction and stress-level considerations:

  • Ample opportunities with little training: This could be one of the best medical careers to consider for those who do not want to pursue an advanced degree. With just a short amount of schooling, you could achieve a good-paying job and enjoy ample opportunities over the next decade.
  • Purposeful work: The work you perform is quite meaningful since you are helping diagnose diseases and conditions. One of the best parts of the job is giving expectant parents a glimpse of their growing babies.
  • Advancement potential: There is potential for upward mobility into team leadership, management, research, or teaching positions. You could also focus on specific medical specialties within ultrasound and diagnostic imaging to help expand your job skills.
  • Flexible job options: Many employers are willing to provide flexible scheduling, which can help you achieve an enjoyable work-life balance. However, some jobs may require overtime, on-call, evening, and weekend shifts.
  • Employee benefits and extras: Many employers offer ultrasound technicians additional perks like benefit plans and paid vacation and sick days.
  • Comfortable work environment: Although some work settings—like hospitals—can be hectic, ultrasound rooms and departments tend to be quiet, peaceful areas.
  • Low risk of injury: The risks for repetitive stress injuries can be substantially lowered by adhering to the most current safe-scanning practices.

Related careers: Cardiovascular technologist

4. Radiologic Technologist

X-Ray Technician SchoolsImagine having a job that physicians and medical professionals rely on to diagnose and treat their patients accurately. That's the job of a radiologic technologist, also known as an x-ray technician. Using sophisticated modern scanning technology, you are responsible for producing high-quality images of patients' body parts.

Once you have determined that you have accurate and clear images, you will likely prepare a report and update the patient's file for review by the professional who ordered the test. You may also be responsible for cleaning and maintaining the equipment you are using. If you want one of the good jobs in the medical field that offers low stress, great pay, and advancement opportunities, then this could be it.

Schooling is relatively short — you can get your associate degree in radiologic technology in about two years.

  • Median annual salary: $61,370
  • Entry-level education: Associate degree (2 years)

Job satisfaction and stress-level considerations:

  • Meaningful work: Much job satisfaction can be gained from helping diagnose patients, so they receive the proper treatments for their illnesses or injuries.
  • Pleasant interaction with patients: Many radiologic and x-ray technicians report that they enjoy the direct patient contact that comes with their positions since it gives them the opportunity to regularly provide compassionate care.
  • Engaging tasks: Radiologic technology is a specialty choice that offers interesting and varied work, which can result in little on-the-job boredom.
  • Advancement potential: Radiologic technicians can have opportunities to advance their careers into other areas related to CT, MRI, and ultrasound procedures.
  • Regular or flexible hours: There are imaging centers that offer jobs with regular weekday hours. However, many hospitals (and some clinics) require evening, weekend, and overnight shifts, which can be beneficial if you want flexible scheduling.
  • Employer-paid benefits: Many employers provide health and disability insurance benefits.
  • Limited physical demands: There can be some physical demands when your patients require assistance to move on and off, or to and from, the imaging equipment.

Related careers: Dialysis technician, EEG technician, and EKG technician

5. Dietitian or Nutritionist

Fitness & Nutrition SchoolsThe population is becoming increasingly concerned with living healthy lifestyles, which often involves implementing better eating habits. That's one of the main reasons dietitians and nutritionists expect a strong job outlook. Now is a great time to share your appreciation for healthy living with other people. You can help them make positive changes that improve the quality of their lives.

So one thing that you may be asking is, "What's the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?" The answer largely comes down to regulations. Dietitians face much more stringent regulations than nutritionists do. A dietitian must complete an approved program that results in a bachelor's degree. And you must meet other requirements, including a supervised clinical internship, to earn a registered dietitian (RD) designation, which is required in many states and by most employers.

The title nutritionist is not as regulated. Even though you can earn a certified nutrition specialist (CNS) credential, it is not as commonly required by employers or legislated by states. Both dietitians and nutritionists are experts in food and nutrition, but which path you choose depends on the career you wish to seek after you complete your schooling. No matter your choice, you could have one of the least stressful healthcare jobs.

  • Median annual salary: $61,650
  • Entry-level education: Bachelor's degree (3 or 4 years)

Job satisfaction and stress-level considerations:

  • Fulfilling work: Becoming a dietitian or nutritionist allows you to pursue your passion for health and wellness.
  • Ability to make a difference: Equipping people with the knowledge and tools to implement healthier habits that improve and possibly save their lives.
  • Enjoyable client interaction: Many dietitians and nutritionists enjoy the personal interaction they experience with a variety of clients and other health care professionals.
  • Workplace diversity: Job opportunities can be found in a wide variety of settings. You may be able to find work with establishments ranging from retail businesses to medical facilities.
  • Sustainable workloads and deadlines: Dietitians and nutritionists are known to have manageable workloads and deadlines, leading to a good work-life balance.
  • Regular or flexible hours: This is typically considered a Monday-through-Friday position that requires little overtime. You could also find opportunities for part-time work, if desired.
  • Self-employment potential: There are opportunities for entrepreneurial activities within the field. These can include offering classes, giving lectures, and writing books.
  • Low risk of injury: There are no significant physical demands or risks of work-related injuries.
  • Limited travel requirements: Travel can be required within your local area to meet clients on-site.

Related careers: Alternative health care practitioner and personal fitness trainer

6. Occupational Therapy Assistant

Occupational Therapy Assistant SchoolsPeople of all ages and backgrounds who experience physical, developmental, emotional, and mental challenges and diseases rely on the expert care of occupational therapy assistants. In this meaningful line of work, you could offer all kinds of rehabilitation assistance.

This assistance could include activities such as:

  • Teaching a child with spina bifida how to use equipment to gain mobility.
  • Helping an adult perform exercises to recover after an injury.
  • Working with a stroke patient to show them how to transfer from a bed to a wheelchair.
  • Assisting a schizophrenia patient with life-skills training.

Whether you are employed at a private practice, hospital, care home, school, or other personal care or rehab setting, you will work under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist (OT). You will follow the OT's treatment plans and provide feedback and make recommendations based on the progress that your patients make. Occupational therapy can be a rewarding line of work for those who want to offer compassionate care and help others develop and improve the abilities they need to live productive and independent lives.

An associate degree is usually required to become an occupational therapy assistant. Many occupational therapy assistant programs include a period of real-world practice as part of their training to prepare you for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam, which is typically required to pass to become licensed.

  • Median annual salary: $61,730
  • Entry-level education: Associate degree (2 years)

Job satisfaction and stress-level considerations:

  • Meaningful work: Occupational therapy assistants work with their clients to help them improve their quality of living and regain or maintain their independence. This is viewed as a fulfilling medical profession since your work can make the difference between people continuing to live in their homes or going into care facilities. You could help give people hope and happiness that they may not have realized without your assistance.
  • Engaging patient interaction: In this position, getting to know your patients and having the chance to build relationships with them is often cited as a career benefit.
  • Workplace diversity: There are many job opportunities expected in a variety of settings. These include care homes, hospitals, outpatient clinics, schools, and companies that offer private in-home services.
  • Interesting tasks: Every patient has unique needs, which can lead to a lot of variety within the position.
  • Regular or flexible hours: The work-schedule requirements can vary greatly depending on the employer. Some organizations may require early morning, evening, and weekend work, whereas others offer regular weekday hours. You may also find options for flexible and part-time scheduling.
  • Minimal travel requirements: Local travel can be required if you work for an organization that offers in-home services.
  • Limited physical demands: The job does entail some physical demands since you may need to move or lift your patients.

Related careers: Nursing assistant and patient care technician

7. Physical Therapist Assistant

physical therapist assistantYou could make a real difference for other people while earning a good living, loving your career choice, and enjoying job security. You could achieve these things by becoming a physical therapist assistant. As an important rehabilitation team member, you could help patients regain movement, restore function, and eliminate or reduce pain.

Following a physical therapist's care plan, treatments could range from therapeutic exercise and soft-tissue massage to electrotherapy and ultrasound. You could also teach patients how to use equipment like canes, crutches, and walkers. And there are a variety of work settings in which you could find job opportunities. These include hospitals, private clinics, sports and fitness facilities, home care agencies, nursing homes, and schools.

  • Median annual salary: $61,180
  • Entry-level education: Associate degree (2 years)

Job satisfaction and stress-level considerations:

  • Fulfilling work: Since you assist patients who need to reduce pain and regain mobility after an injury or illness, you can imagine the satisfaction that could come from helping someone walk again or otherwise become more mobile.
  • Highly ranked occupation: Some occupational surveys have found that physical therapist assistants report the highest levels of job satisfaction among all other support-related healthcare jobs.
  • Pleasant client interaction: Many physical therapist assistants enjoy the daily interaction of working directly with patients to motivate them to recover and work through the healing process.
  • Regular hours: Most jobs are full-time and provide regular Monday through Friday hours, but some work settings require evening and weekend work.
  • Minimal hard deadlines: The work is not typically deadline-driven since a lot of your time is spent working with patients who have pre-booked appointments.
  • Enjoyable work environment: Physical therapist clinics are often bright, energetic, and friendly work environments.

Related careers: Massage therapist and sports medicine professional

How We Determined High Pay, Low Stress, and Job Satisfaction

To define high pay, we looked at the average pay of the two main healthcare occupational groups: (1) support workers and (2) practitioners and technicians. OOH data indicates that the median salary of these professionals was $29,880 and $75,040, respectively. So any job that pays more than the median could be included as high-paying.

To determine job satisfaction and stress levels, we considered the most common factors that workers cite as contributing to increased satisfaction and reduced stress, which include the following:

  • Good pay
  • Ample opportunities
  • Regular or flexible work hours
  • Little to no overtime
  • Minimal hard deadlines
  • Little to no travel requirements
  • Limited physical demands
  • Low risk for work-related injuries

High-Paying Medical Careers That Require More Schooling

Highest-Paying Medical Careers That Require More SchoolingThe seven medical careers listed above are all excellent jobs that you can achieve with a bachelor's degree or less. But what if you want to commit to earning an advanced degree? Are the job opportunities that much better? The reality is that the highest-paid medical professionals hold at least a master's or doctoral degree. So the hard work and effort that goes into earning those credentials can certainly pay off. Here are some of the highest-paying medical careers.

  1. Anesthesiologist
  2. Surgeon
  3. Obstetrician/gynecologist
  4. Internist
  5. Family or general practitioner
  6. Psychiatrist
  7. Pediatrician
  8. Dentist
  9. Nurse anesthetist
  10. Podiatrist

Build Your Confidence and Move Toward a Prosperous Future

As you can see, high-paying medical careers that offer job satisfaction and low-stress work environments are real. And they are achievable with the right combination of training, experience, and motivation.

* Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook. Some careers listed may be part of a combined occupation profile (visited June 12, 2023).