In our frenetic and demanding world, achieving work-life balance seems more difficult all the time. And if you’re wondering exactly what work-life balance is, consider this definition by The Business Dictionary: “a comfortable state of equilibrium achieved between an employee’s primary priorities of their employment position and their private lifestyle.”
Put another way, you want a job that doesn’t demand so much of your time and energy that you miss your son’s birthday party, never enjoy a Friday night or forget what a vacation feels like.
Of course, some jobs make reaching the perfect work-life balance tougher than others, which is why GOBankingRates found 10 jobs that get the scale just right and 10 that throw it way off. Click through to see where your career falls on the work-life balance scale.
10 Jobs With the Best Work-Life Balance
Here are 10 careers that promise great work-life balance. They are not ranked in order, and GOBankingRates consulted career experts and various studies to come up with the list.
1. Data Scientist
Okay, there will be some math. But if you have an advanced mathematical or computer science degree and can apply your nerdy and tech talents to analyzing data and predicting trends and opportunities for businesses, you’ll have a very enjoyable work-life balance.
At least, that’s what a 2015 study from career website Glassdoor found. Its analysis was based on data, including at least 60,000 company reviews from employees. Data scientist came in on top, with a work-life balance rating of 4.2 out of 5. Still hate math?
2. Graphic Designer
Does catching the latest art exhibit, spending hours following trends or drawing a lot sound good to you? Well, if you’re a graphic designer, they’re all good for your work, said Lyn O’Brien, a career advancement specialist, lecturer and author based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Plus, you’ll be seen as cool and edgy. And, “it’s perfectly fine to wear headphones and listen to music at work,” she said. If you can make it as a freelance graphic designer, you also get to set your own hours. But remember, O’Brien said that freelancing could require meeting clients during evenings or weekends, so you’ll still need discipline to achieve that work-life balance.
3. Elementary School Teacher
Summers off and out at 3 p.m. — are you kidding? It’s like being a kid again. Only without the acne and peer pressure. Sure, you might not get rich, but you’ll have a great tan and the chance to inspire the next generation. Or at least surprise them with a pop quiz.
“Being a teacher can be really great,” said O’Brien. “There are lots of daylight hours after work; grading papers doesn’t need sun. Travel plans are easy with summers and holidays off, and bad weather days are an unexpected bonus.”
But of course, those papers don't grade themselves. In fact, teachers do put in many hours outside of the classroom grading, preparing lessons and attending meetings. Those responsibilities still must be balanced.
4. Social Media Manager
If you’re an expert when it comes to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets, putting that to use for companies might result in a career that trends toward a great work-life balance.
There will likely be some pressure to be creative and pump out a lot of content, but the career came in at No. 4 on Glassdoor’s best jobs for work-life balance list, with a rating of 4 out of 5. That seems worth Tweeting about.
5. Software Developer
Making it into Glassdoor’s top 25 jobs for a healthy work-life balance with a rating of 3.7, the career of software developer might seem like an odd pick. After all, creating and engineering new apps sounds stressful.
But if you choose to believe the Glassdoor report, perhaps you’ll want to apply at Asana, the new company founded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz. In August, Moskovitz told CNN that the tech industry was destroying its workers’ personal lives by demanding too much from them and said his new company seeks to do the opposite.
"We seek this [work-life] balance explicitly," he said. "We've come to the conclusion that this is the best way to be successful."
While the risk involved in chopping off someone’s hair or dying it the wrong shade of red might be stressful, apparently the possibility of turning around their bad hair day more than makes up for it.
Hair stylist took the No. 1 spot in job-finding site CareerCast’s "Least Stressful Jobs of 2015" report. One reason cited is that your day is spent helping others feel good about themselves. They did note, however, that there can be a fair amount of work gaining new clients and retaining a steady clientele.
7. Web Developer
Coming in at No. 10 on Glassdoor’s list, and recommended by O’Brien, is web developer. These are the people who design and create websites, and they often have a great work-life balance, said O’Brien.
O’Brien explained that web developers often work as freelancers, but even when they are in offices, they are seen as creative types. So, they can get away with a little less formality. Freelancers set their own hours, but even if you take your work home with you, it’s design-oriented.
As long as you don’t tell your dates what to order, or how to lose those extra pounds, this career might result in a nice work-life balance. After all, it came in at No. 8 on CareerCast’s list of the least stressful jobs for 2015.
If you take your own advice, you’ll eat healthier and feel better. It’s also a career in which you’ll make a positive difference in people’s lives. That means smiles, and that’s never bad for balance.
9. Civil Engineer
Doctor, lawyer, engineer … these titles are guaranteed to impress your date’s parents. Civil engineers deal with major projects like roads and bridges, so you’ll also have some interesting cocktail conversation fodder. And out of the three occupations sure to impress, engineer might be the best bet for work-life balance, according to the Glassdoor report, which put it in the top 12.
10. Human Resources Manager
Developing great people skills isn’t the worst benefit a job can have. And yes, you’ll likely have to deal with petty disputes as well as big work issues. But O’Brien said these are more than made up for in other areas.
“The hours are normal, so you’ll have plenty of time after work to use your refined people skills bettering your social life,” she said. Perhaps that’s why Glassdoor listed a rendition of this job — talent acquisition specialist — at No. 3 on its list of the best work-life balance jobs.
10 Worst Jobs for Work-Life Balance
These 10 careers tend to demand so much of your time that achieving an acceptable work-life balance could take maximum effort. The list is not a ranking, and to compile it, GOBankingRates asked career experts and consulted studies.
You’d think nearly two hundred grand a year would buy you a seriously nice life. And yes, it does. But as for the balance part, you might have to work a little to make that happen.
“Surgeons are not only on call when they are needed, but they also have a very specialized career in which they might be the only one available with their specific expertise,” said Tony Sorenson, president and CEO of the executive search and consulting firm Versique Search & Consulting.
So, in addition to extreme pressure, you’ll likely have to refrain from that second glass of wine quite often and be ready to be called in for emergencies. The good news? You’ll get there in a really sweet ride.
Don’t let Hollywood give you the wrong impression: Being a lawyer is not all legal victories and celebratory drinks at the bar. There’s a lot of hard work involved.
Yes, lawyers get paid a lot per hour. But that’s the point, said O’Brien. Working smarter won’t necessarily get you more pay; more hours logged gets you more pay. And if you do finally get some free time and make it to the party, there are all those lawyer jokes you have to contend with.
3. Massage Therapist
Apparently, relieving stress for people all day is not always conducive to relieving stress in your own life. Massage therapists often don’t have the most normal of hours, and squeezing, pressing and pulling is highly physical work.
It can take a toll on your relationships, too. According to a study published by the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology and reported by USA Today, massage therapists have one of the nation’s highest divorce rates at more than 38.2 percent. Guess a good massage doesn’t cure all ills after all.
4. Registered Nurse
Much like a surgeon — without the big house and Mercedes — being an angel of healing can take a lot out of you. According to the Department of Labor, “Because patients in hospitals and nursing care facilities need round-the-clock care, nurses in these settings usually work in shifts, covering all 24 hours. They may work nights, weekends and holidays. They also may be on call.”
“You won’t stay home because of blizzards or disasters, either," added O'Brien. "In fact, you may be there for the duration." No wonder they wear comfortable shoes.
5. General and Operations Manager
We know there are all kinds of general managers, from restaurants to toy companies. But whatever the industry, managing the entire staff and making sure business is booming can really bust your work-life balance.
For instance, according to a 2015 report by Ernst & Young, 58 percent of U.S. managers log more than 40 hours a week. That was second in the world — only Mexican managers were more likely to report 40-plus-hour weeks (61 percent).
6. Top Business Executive
You’d think moving up would be a great thing for your life, but moving up often means more stress, more responsibility and less time for yourself, said Sorenson. As an executive, you might do everything from formulating and implementing company policies and ensuring goals are met to managing other executives, overseeing marketing and sales, and more.
“Executives have a responsibility to their company and often deal with not only internal operations, but external relationships," said Sorenson. "Often, social dinners also have a business purpose, making work-life balance more complicated."
Just about every boy dreams of becoming a firefighter at some point. But in addition to saving people from burning buildings and getting cats out of trees, there’s also a lot of stress.
In fact, CareerCast named it as the No. 1 most stressful job of 2015. “Firefighters face dangerous situations in ever-changing conditions, and their work is not limited to battling blazes. Firefighters also assist with medical emergencies and natural disasters,” the CareerCast article said. In addition, you’ll be staying in the firehouse many nights of the week with a bunch of guys in funny hats.
8. Commercial Airline Pilot
When airline pilot Matthew Creans first began his career as a pilot, he used to stand in the airport, looking at the “Destinations” board and smile at the thought of being able to fly to anywhere in the world he wanted. That didn’t exactly happen.
He now flies the Hawaii to California route exclusively so he can maximize time home with his family. Others, who fly internationally, are away for up to four days and return home too tired for a social life, he said. Maybe that’s why airline pilot came in at No. 4 on CareerCast’s “Most Stressful Jobs of 2015” list.
9. Stock Broker
If you’ve seen the movie “Wall Street,” you know that pressure comes with this job. And though you have the opportunity to make Gordon Gekko money, you might have to give up a lot for it.
Predicting the future all day can be exhausting, said O’Brien. In addition, she pointed out that often these professionals must use their personal time to track down new leads at social events or schmooze clients with golf or dinner dates.
News waits for no man or woman. Working nights and weekends, changing your schedule to accommodate breaking news and constantly living under a deadline are just a few of the things the Department of Labor lists under the journalist section. All that and low pay, too.
Maybe that’s why the job of newspaper reporter ended up on CareerCast’s "10 Most Stressful Jobs of 2015" list along with firefighter, soldier, military general and police officer.
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