Web Developer: Best Low-Stress, High-Pay Job in America?

If you’re a web developer, would you describe your job as “low stress”? U.S. News & World Report thinks you have it easy: the publication’s new study suggests that web development is among the best low-stress, high-paying jobs in the United States.

U.S. News & World Report estimates the typical web developer salary at $67,990 per year, with an expected job growth of 13 percent by 2028. In addition to the “low stress” that it insists comes with building applications and maintaining websites, the publication also thinks that the education bar to become a web developer is actually pretty low: “The standard education in this field is a two-year associate degree, so web developers don’t have to worry about spending long years in college before they can begin earning a high income.” 

Other occupations on the list include wind-turbine technician, survey researcher, archaeologist, and statistician. U.S. News & World Report arrived at these conclusions based on “interviews” and “research.” And this isn’t the first time it’s termed a particular technology job as “low stress”: Over the past few years, it’s twice deemed “software developer” a similarly relaxing profession

Of course, that might come as a surprise to any web and/or software developer staring down the barrel of massive project requirements, absurd deadlines, “crunch time,”and oblivious stakeholders. But other publications have also called development a no-worries kind of profession: A few years ago, for instance, CNNMoney crowned mobile app developer as the “Best Job in America,” offering a combination of “low stress” and lots of “personal satisfaction.” While any number of developers dofeel good about what they do, it’s hard to see what’s relaxing or stress-free about building a website to spec or trying to make a particular app succeed despite massive competition. 

Maybe it’s all relative—after all, wrestling with a website bug is probably less emotionally and mentally draining than neurosurgery or trying to land a space shuttle. Maybe. 

For developers at some tech companies, stress is a potentially career-ending issue. Earlier this year, a lengthy Kotaku article portrayed employees at game-maker BioWare as undergoing their own kind of workplace hell to push out “Anthem,” a massive open-world game that was eventually released in what some publications described as a “troubled” state.

“I actually cannot count the amount of ‘stress casualties’ we had on ‘Mass Effect: Andromeda’ or ‘Anthem’ [both BioWare games],” a former (anonymous) developer told Kotaku writer Jason Schreier via email. “A ‘stress casualty’ at BioWare means someone had such a mental breakdown from the stress they’re just gone for one to three months. Some come back, some don’t.”

Is that typical for the tech industry? No. But nobody should aspire to become a web or software developer thinking that it’ll always be smooth sailing. And if you actually find yourself at a company where you’re subjected to long hours and insane project demands, don’t quit immediately, especially if you believe in the overall mission; instead, talk to your manager about ways to make your schedule and workload more manageable.