Guide to Awesome Careers for Parents

Parenthood is hard. Working parenthood is even harder. As two-income families become the norm, modern moms and dads 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), nearly two-thirds 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 70 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. When Flexjobs surveyed parents about their jobs in 2017, 91 percent of respondents said they work because they have to. 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.

Eight Life-Friendly Jobs for Parents

Working moms and dads want 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: At least ten percent between 2016 and 2026.
  • Salary: At least 25 percent more than the national median wage.
  • Stress: At least 50 percent of surveyed parents report low job-related stress.
  • Flexibility: Higher-than-average flexibility reported, particularly with respect to telecommuting and self-employment.

Note: Unless otherwise specified, salary estimates and projected outlook are for May 2016 and 2016-2026, respectively, and reported by the BLS. User-reported stress and flexibility statistics are based on Payscale surveys conducted between 2014 and 2016.

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. Payscale ranked software developer among the top ten jobs for working parents in 2015.

  • Stress: 57 percent report low stress
  • Flexibility: 32 percent telecommute
  • Minimum education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Outlook: 24 percent projected growth in positions nationwide (2016-26)
  • Salary (systems software developers): $110,590 average

Multimedia Artist or Animator

These graphic artists create animations and visual effects for several different media, including video games and movies.

Parent perks: Multimedia artists and animators tend to have a great deal of control over their days. By illustration, 59 percent were self-employed in 2016 (BLS).

  • Stress: N/A
  • Flexibility: 59 percent self-employed
  • Minimum education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Outlook: 10 percent projected growth in positions nationwide (2016-26)
  • Salary: $72,200 average

Computer and Information Systems Manager or Consultant

Often called IT managers, computer and information systems managers plan and direct an organization’s computer-related activities. They also help choose, implement ,and test new technologies.

Parent perks: IT managers report low stress levels and a high flexibility at work, especially when acting as consultants: Payscale once named tech consultants the no. 4 and IT consultants the no. 15 best jobs for parents.

  • Stress: 52 percent low stress
  • Flexibility: 54 percent telecommute
  • Minimum education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Outlook: 12 percent projected growth in positions nationwide (2016-26)
  • Salary: $145,740 average

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, 16 percent are self-employed.

  • Stress: 58 percent report low stress
  • Flexibility: 40 percent telecommute; 16 percent self-employed
  • Minimum education: Associate degree
  • Outlook: 13 percent projected growth in positions nationwide (2016-26)
  • Salary: $72,150 average

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: N/A
  • Flexibility: One in three work part-time; kid-friendly scheduling opportunities
  • Minimum education: Master’s degree
  • Outlook: 21 percent projected growth in positions nationwide (2016-26)
  • Salary: $83,730 average


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, earning them the no. 2 spot of a Payscale ranking of the best jobs for parents.

  • Stress: 72 percent low stress
  • Flexibility: 82 percent report high job flexibility
  • Minimum education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Outlook: 22 percent projected growth in positions nationwide (2016-26)
  • Salary: $114,120 average

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. Payscale once ranked this job no. 6 among the most flexible careers in the nation.

  • Stress: 53 percent low stress
  • Flexibility: 85 percent report high flexibility
  • Minimum education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Outlook: 28 percent projected growth in positions nationwide (2016-26)
  • Salary: $96,040 average

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. Payscale once ranked the job no. 3 on a list of the most flexible careers in the U.S.

  • Stress: 53 percent report low stress
  • Flexibility: 53 percent telecommute
  • Minimum education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Outlook (research analysts): 23 percent projected growth in positions nationwide (2016-26)
  • Salary: $144,140 average
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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