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Jobs with the Best and Worst Work-Life Balance

We keep insisting on the need to balance work and life. And yes, we have written, maybe not countless, but a few surrounding the statistics or the factors simultaneously affecting work and life (Read about Work-Life balance statistics in India. How does it compare to other countries?).

Really though, it is a chicken and egg situation. What comes first? Do you focus on work to enjoy your life? Or, do you focus on your life and keep your vocation aside? Whatever side of the coin you prefer to look at, it all boils down to two highly impactful consequences of a carefully measured recipe for work and life. An integrated work life affects not only the obvious customer – the employee – but also the organization to which the employee belongs. Here’s how.

  • Studies have shown that employers who care about employee work life balance are blessed with more productivity from them. About 21% more of it.
  • Studies have also shown that employees who follow a well-balanced work and life diet, have lower instances of health issues like heart problems, obesity, diabetes, depression and other stress related disorders. An Australia Institute study suggests that about 24% workers suffer health hiccups if subjected to long work hours repeatedly.

Read Is your work life balance suffering?

Yes, all that talk about long term benefits is good but since the case in support of work life balance is already rested, we will now turn to a list of professions that allow a healthy see-sawing swing between the two. Of course, since we are focusing on the contribution of jobs to above said happiness, we will refrain from talking about what particular manifestations do lifestyles have on the balance. Essentially, in this context, it is all about what kind of jobs make it easier to keep up with life.

We have used a few parameters to determine the best and worst jobs for maintaining that timely clock-in-clock-out routine. They are,

  • Salary and Job Growth: What do you call working without pay? Internship, volunteering, or in its worst form, slavery. The predominant reason to have an occupation is to make a living. And one way to measure the quality of said life, though not being the sole factor of it, is the income your profession brings back home. Your professional field, and its professional capacity to sustain its demand, is also a good measure of your long-term work happiness, which has a way to spill over to your personal life.
  • Stress: You may get high salaries, fill the shoes of an on-demand executive, and work only 40 hours a week. But all that boils down to the worst form of roasted peanuts when every minute is spent in an over-charged highly stressful work environment. Happiness and healthiness are closely related to stress, or rather the lack of it (Read How stress kills by affecting the brain, body, heart, and mind).
  • Work Style: Do you get to enjoy the view of sunset with your loved ones or is your daily schedule repeatedly offended by the onslaught of ever-increasing work? Your work style says a lot about your life outside the confines of your bullpen. Work style evaluates a job’s time pressure, level of competition and the seriousness of the responsibility related to the work output that can possibly keep you up at night.


We have compiled the list below based on information from and, that provide such data on various jobs. We have combined factors of salary, job growth, and O*NET’s stress tolerance index, which is an indication of the requirement of accepting criticism and handling high stress situations as a part of the job. The lower the stress tolerance, the calmer is the work environment.

To arrive at the final list, we have observed and factored in the contribution of the work styles – level of competition, time pressure, and the critical nature of the work output – on the stress of each profession. The lists below – Best and Worst Work Life Balance – reflect the low stress jobs and high stress jobs, respectively, and their individual median salaries and projected job growth. Read MBA jobs with the best work life balance.

Jobs with the Best Work-Life Balance

Profession Job Description Stress Tolerance (Max 100) Salary (2016) & Job Growth (by 2026)
Biomedical Engineers Use engineering to design healthcare software and equipment 63 $85,600/
7% increase
Mathematicians & Statisticians Use mathematics and statistical skills for problem-solving in business, engineering, healthcare, etc 57 $82,000/
Physicists and Astronomers They study forms of matter and energy interactions and apply their learnings through research and design 61 $115,900/
Political Scientists They analyze government policies, political systems, etc 61 $114,300/
Environmental Economists They conduct research and analyze the impact of economic policies on the environment. 68 $101,000/
Chemical Engineers They apply chemistry, biology, physics, and math in the production of chemicals, drugs, food, etc 61 $98,300/
Materials Engineers They study metals, plastics, ceramics, etc to design new materials with specific physical and chemical requirements 61 $93,300/
Database Administrators They store and organize data used by other sectors such as the finance industry 74 $85,000/
Industrial Engineers They design efficient manufacturing techniques, removing waste in production 64 $84,300/
Post Secondary Higher Education Teachers They are involved in teaching and mentoring higher education students including engineering and professional courses 62 $75,400/


Jobs with the Worst Work-Life Balance

Profession Job Description Stress Tolerance (Max 100) Salary (2016) & Job Growth (by 2026)
Reporters and Correspondents Responsible for gathering and broadcasting news from reliable sources 86 $37,800/
9% decline
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Asses and treat individuals with mental health and substance use problems 92 $42,700/
15% increase
Graphic Designers They design visual concepts for advertisements, magazines, etc 72 $47,600/
Financial Managers They are responsible for the growth and sustenance of the financial gains of an organization 81 $121,800/
Logisticians They analyze and coordinate the supply chain of a product through its production cycle 80 $74,200/
Lawyers They act as expert advisors on legal issues related to individuals, corporations, community, etc 87 $118,200/
Surgeons Physicians trained to perform from minimally invasive to invasive procedures on the human body 96 $200,000+/
Investment Fund Managers Strategize investments for corporations or individuals 90 $105,000/
Healthcare Social Workers Help individuals, and families of individuals with some form of acute illness, providing services and support to cope with the crisis 95 $53,800/
Pharmacists Besides dispensing prescription medications, they provide health screenings and advise on safe use of drugs 91 $122,200/
Advertising and Promotions Managers They create attractive, and interesting, concepts for the promotion of a product, brand, or cause. 85 $127,600/
Insurance Adjusters, Examiners, Investigators They investigate and evaluate the validity of insurance claims. 92 $63,700/
1% decline

These tables are not there to guide or discourage you from that particular choice of profession. Rather, they can be useful to prepare you for what to expect from your choice and get your priorities straightened out before you find yourself deep in the woods and lost.

Meanwhile, some related reading to stay further on topic.


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Rakhi Acharyya
About Rakhi Acharyya
Rakhi is a freelance writer, a Physics PhD from Michigan State University, an ex-teacher and a former employee of Corporate America. Follow her on Twitter.

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