Guide to Awesome Careers for Parents - Economic Security & Work-Life Balance

Parenthood is hard. Working parenthood is even harder. As two-income families become the norm, modern parents must balance their career and family lives while somehow managing the laundry and shopping. Days are long, family time is sparse, and something as small as a sick sitter can throw the system into chaos.

At the end of the day, many working parents report feeling tired, stressed, and generally overextended. Fortunately, some careers excel at providing the flexibility and security parents want.

Working Parents: The New Normal

The era of single-earner families is waning. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 45 percent of married-couple families with children under 18 are dual-income homes, and if numbers over the last decade are any indication, the trend is unlikely to reverse any time soon. There are several reasons for the shift, but some experts suggest it began during World War II when women stepped up to fill a labor shortage left by men shipped overseas. The share of women in the workplace grew by 50 percent between 1940 and 1945, Forbes reports, and many more followed their example.

According to Pew Research, at least 72 percent of moms with children under 18 now work. Dads responded to the change by taking on a more active role in childcare, but no major wave of stay-at-home fathers balanced the tide of working mothers. That isn’t necessarily because fathers are unwilling; they simply can’t afford to. Many American families live paycheck to paycheck, with one in three adults struggling to pay bills, according to NPR. In fact, a report from the Federal Reserve found that over 30 percent of families can’t cover an unexpected $400 bill.

This new normal has reshaped American life. The rising costs of child care, food, and living outpace working parents’ wages while frantic schedules trigger stress and fatigue. The strain can impact one’s job performance and undermine Parents need jobs that offer economic security and a better work-life balance. The trick is finding them.

Covid-19 Impact on Working Parents

While the pandemic has been hard for almost everyone, it has been particularly hard for working parents. A survey completed by FlexJobs between March and April of 2021 showed that working parents have had a hard time caring for children, managing their workload, and ensuring virtual learning was taking place. Not to mention taking care of themselves.

Key findings of this survey included:

  • 57 percent of working parents’ jobs were impacted, including changing hours, reducing hours, or even quitting their job
  • 40 percent of parents found it hard to unplug from work since many were doing it from home
  • 36 percent of parents struggled with non-work-related distractions
  • 26 percent of parents had to troubleshoot technology on a regular basis.

However, despite these challenges, working parents increasingly want to work from home. Of those surveyed, 61 percent want to continue working full time, and another 37 percent want at least some kind of hybrid solution. Parents are so invested in working from home that 62 percent said they would quit if they can’t continue working remotely.

There are several reasons for parents wanting to continue to work from home, but for many parents, 49 percent in fact, it boils down to needing to care for children who don’t have full-time care outside the home. Working parents also fear losing the flexibility working from home has afforded them as well as losing work life balance if they return to full-time in-person work.

Now more than ever, working parents are looking for jobs that accommodate family life, have a lot of flexibility, are low stress, and pay above average.

Eight Life-Friendly Jobs for Parents

Working parents want to earn a decent living without sacrificing their sanity, but not necessarily in that order. Respondents told Flexjobs that work-life balance and job flexibility were more important than money. Salary still ranked high on the list, however, as did low-stress work. Some careers are more parent-friendly than others. The trick is finding them. The following careers offer solid earnings, high growth potential, low stress levels, and flexibility. Each meets the following criteria:

  • Projected growth: Higher than the national average of four percent for 2020 to 2030.
  • Salary: At least 25 percent more than the national median wage.
  • Stress: Has an average or better rating for job-related stress.
  • Flexibility: Higher-than-average flexibility was reported, particularly with respect to telecommuting and self-employment.

Note: Unless otherwise specified, salary estimates and projected outlook are for May 2020 and 2020-2030, respectively, and reported by the BLS. User-reported stress and flexibility statistics are based on U.S. News & World Report career reports.

Become a Software Developer

Software developers create the computer programs and applications upon which we rely. Using various coding languages, software developers direct computers and other devices to perform specific tasks.

Parent perks: Software developers perform most of their work independently using computers—the perfect recipe for telecommuting. U.S. News & World Report ranked software developer as the number one job in technology in 2020.

  • Stress: Average
  • Flexibility: Above average
  • Minimum education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Outlook: 22 percent projected growth in positions nationwide (2020-2030)
  • Salary (systems software developers): $110,140 median

Become a Public Relations Specialist

All kinds of companies hire public relations specialists to help maintain a favorable public-facing image. They work in all industries, from tech to healthcare and government. While they are responsible for creating media, including press releases, they also cultivate quality relationships with journalists, constituents, and opinion leaders.

Parent perks: This career can appeal to parents because they can work in any industry. Many public relations specialists work on contract, which allows them to create their own schedule. The U.S. News & World Report ranks this job number three in top creative and media jobs.

  • Stress: Average
  • Flexibility: Average
  • Minimum education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Outlook: 7 percent projected growth in positions nationwide (2020-2030)
  • Salary: $62,810 median

Become a Dietitian or Nutritionist

Dietitians and nutritionists advise their clients to meet specific nutrition, health, and fitness goals. They are experts in all things food-related and can often be part of a team to help treat someone with an eating disorder, diabetes, or other chronic condition.

Parent perks: The skills learned as a dietitian or nutritionist can certainly help with caring for and feeding kids. Many professionals in this field work part-time or flexible hours to meet client needs and still care for their families. Dietitians’ unemployment rates are lower than most other professions at only 1.1 percent, so there is always work to be had.

  • Stress: Average
  • Flexibility: Above average
  • Minimum education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Outlook: 8 percent projected growth in positions nationwide (2020-2030)
  • Salary: $63,090 median

Become a Web Developer

Web developers, also referred to as front-end developers, use various computer languages to code websites so that they function properly. While they may build a site according to a graphic designer’s design, developers are responsible for the technical rather than the artistic aspects of a site, including site speed and security.

Parent perks. Web developers can work anywhere they can access the internet and can often set their own hours. According to the BLS, 10 percent are self-employed.

  • Stress: Average
  • Flexibility: Above average
  • Minimum education: Associate degree
  • Outlook: 8 percent projected growth in positions nationwide (2020-2030)
  • Salary: $77,200 median

Become an Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists help injured, sick, or otherwise disabled patients perform everyday tasks.

Parent perks: OTs tend to have some control over their patient load and appointment times, although parents may want to consider positions in public school systems, so their schedules align with the kids’.

  • Stress: Average
  • Flexibility: Average
  • Minimum education: Master’s degree
  • Outlook: 16 percent projected growth in positions nationwide (2020-2030)
  • Salary: $86,280 median

Become an Actuary

Actuaries use math and statistics to estimate financial risks associated with certain decisions or events, like whether the cost of adding a new feature to a product will pay off in increased sales.

Parent perks: Analyzing stressful scenarios does not seem to impact actuaries’ outlook on life: a high percentage of these professionals report low stress and high flexibility.

  • Stress: Average
  • Flexibility: Average
  • Minimum education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Outlook: 18 percent projected growth in positions nationwide (2020-2030)
  • Salary: $111,030 median

Become an Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts plan and implement measures to protect data on computer networks and systems. The recent boom in big data and growing number of cyberattacks underscore the importance of these professionals.

Parent perks: Information security analysts enjoy a bright job outlook and report a high degree of flexibility in their work. U.S. News & World Report ranks this job number four for best technology jobs.

  • Stress: Below average
  • Flexibility: Average
  • Minimum education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Outlook: 31 percent projected growth in positions nationwide (2020-2030)
  • Salary: $103,590 median

Become a Marketing Manager or Consultant

Marketing managers direct the research and promotional activities that increase sales and build brand loyalty. Some managers work full-time with a single organization, but they can also serve as consultants for several firms. Consultants often act as market research analysts as well.

Parent perks: Marketing managers have a high telecommuting rate, particularly among consultants. U.S. News & World Report ranks this job number one for best sales and marketing careers. Eleven percent of marketing managers work from home, according to the BLS.

  • Stress: Below average
  • Flexibility: Average
  • Minimum education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Outlook (research analysts): 6 percent projected growth in positions nationwide (2020-2030)
  • Salary: $141,490 median
Aimee Hosler
Aimee Hosler

Aimee Hosler is a long-time journalist specializing in education and technology. She is an advocate for experiential learning among all ages and serves as the director of communications for a non-profit community makerspace. She holds a degree in journalism from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

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