Careers That Double as Great Lifestyles
Would you like to work with chocolate? Or maybe you’d like to get paid to be fit? Or maybe you dream of coupling your career with something else?
What makes a lifestyle career is different for everyone, depending on your aspirations. That might be working from home, working remotely, having flexible working hours, having the potential for individual empowerment — or all of the above.
From real estate to yoga to technology, here are 15 careers that double as great lifestyles. Like those who lend their voices and experience to our list, you might just find a job that encourages you to leave the 9 to 5 behind — and transforms your life in the process.
Award-winning Minnesota-based chocolatier Robyn Dochterman combines her love for chocolate and desire to learn with putting a smile on her customer’s faces. “I love being part of people’s celebrations and helping to create traditions for them,” she said. “I get a wonderful buzz seeing the same customers at special occasions every year. And I really enjoy learning from the world's leading chefs who come to teach at chocolate and pastry schools, almost all of which are located in great places to travel, including Las Vegas, southern California, Chicago, New York and Toronto.”
Dochterman’s chocolate shop is extremely busy during the fall, winter and early spring “chocolate holidays,” but every year she and her partner make time to travel toward the equator to do cacao research, tour plantations and fincas and learn all they can about how different regions grow, ferment and dry cacao. “It's a rather unusual lifestyle,” she admits. “But I love the travel, being surrounded by nature, and having exciting and calm times.”
If you like being creative and are prepared for a lifelong learning experience, a career as a chocolatier could be the perfect lifestyle for you. Don’t think you need to know all the answers before you start, says Dochterman. “Just dive in!” she said. “Be prepared to laugh at yourself, be on your feet a lot, work with your hands a lot, and make people very, very happy!”
Salary potential: The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t track chocolatier salaries. As a comparison of potentially similar careers, bakers earned a mean annual wage of $27,920, according to May 2017 statistics. Pastry chefs, which are classified in the Chefs and Head Cooks category, earned a mean wage of $49,650.
If your ideal day is spent trawling vintage stores and markets for unique accessories for your home, why wouldn’t you want to make a living doing the same for others? “My career definitely doubles as a lifestyle," said John Linden, interior and furniture designer from Los Angeles. “I spend the majority of my time talking to clients about their aesthetic preferences and spatial needs. My job is essentially to synthesize those two things and come up with designs that the client likes.”
Linden says one of the most enjoyable parts of his job is the back and forth between himself and the client. “I get to collaborate for all kinds of people who have different tastes than I do,” he said. Interior designers also have to spend a lot of time researching. “I'm constantly looking at contemporary trends and historical movements to get ideas,” he said. “Some of my favorite designs have been inspired by images I found in old text books and catalogs.”
To anyone who likes the idea of being an interior designer, Linden has the following advice: “Do some serious self-evaluation first. Are you the type of person who can hold yourself accountable for maintaining a rigorous schedule? If you're a designer who can wake up and put 10 to 12 hours of work in each day without having a boss looking over your shoulder, this could be a great job for you.”
Salary potential: According to the BLS, interior designers earn a mean annual wage of $58,210.
Most people crave a career with flexibility, and this is why being a Realtor is perfect for Warburg Realty’s Steven Gottlieb. “I don’t know of any other job that provides this amount of flexibility with this much upside potential to make money,” he said. “Everyone interacts with real estate, so it’s always a relevant conversation — no matter who you talk to.”
This means business can be done anywhere, from a spin class to a charity event. “I had to go out of town for a wedding,” said Gottlieb. “Over the course of the week I was away, I completed a negotiation over the phone, was introduced to another NYC-based wedding guest who bought an apartment from me later that same year, had drinks with a Hollywood client who had sold her NYC pied-à-terre through me and wanted to buy another one, took more than one conference call with NYC clients, and went on an open house tour with an L.A. agent who refers me business.”
Like so many careers, technology provides the flexibility Realtors and real estate agents need to do a lot of their work on-the-go or out of town. “This enables us to juggle the demands of NYC life in the way a traditional 9-to-5 in an office just can’t,” said Gottlieb. “The work-life-balance is mine to navigate and mine to allocate. I can accomplish work goals and generate new business anywhere I go at any time of day or year, but I can also run personal errands during the work day.”
Salary potential: According to the BLS, real estate sales agents earn a mean annual wage of $59,630.
Stress Management Coach
With about 80 percent of us feeling stressed in our daily lives, professionals who have the expertise to help us reduce our stress levels are more in demand than ever. Take stress management coach Ericka Eller, for example. She helps high-achieving women manage their stress to beat burnout and recover from adrenal fatigue.
“I stepped into this career full-time after experiencing my own burnout, twice,” said Eller. “Recovering from burnout required me to completely shift how I work and what I say yes to, and make health a priority in my life. I realized how important it is for women to invest in help so they may manage stress from a new perspective.”
For Eller, this career path has provided her with a completely new lifestyle. “I practice what I preach, focusing on approaching stress from a different mindset,” she said. “I love getting to teach women what I wish I would have put into practice prior to experiencing adrenal fatigue.”
Speaking about the importance of stress management and creating time each day to focus on health has allowed Eller to experience more joy in her life and thrive in her health, relationships and career. “I am a better wife, mom, friend and coach when I manage my stress in a healthy way,” she said.
Salary potential: The BLS doesn’t track stress management coaches. Marriage and family therapists, however, earn a mean annual wage of $53,860. Coaches make a mean wage of $42,540.
If your 9-to-5 office job is getting in the way of your passion for wellness, perhaps it’s time to ditch the desk job and make downward dog more than a quick morning stretch.
“I love that my career doubles as a healthy and positive lifestyle,” said yoga teacher Valeria Weber Williamson. “I spend my days researching and learning about different yoga practices and lifestyle choices, making them as accessible as possible, and sharing them with subscribers, readers and followers. My deep appreciation for the benefits of yoga plus my voracious reading and writing passions helped me to choose and hone my career but engaging in the growth necessary to continue scaling means that my yoga practice grows as well.”
According to Weber Williamson, teaching yoga is more of a lifestyle choice than a career, and it comes with responsibilities that extend beyond the 60 to 90 minutes on the mat working with clients. “In order to stay relevant to your students' ever-evolving needs, it’s important to take the time to keep up with the latest research, create unique and effective sequences, and engage in all aspects of living a yogic life,” she said. “This means making healthy choices beyond asana practice, or practice of poses, and maintaining a steady commitment to growing authentically in your own practice so that you have an extensive menu of yogic choices for clients searching for what their bodies need.”
Salary potential: The BLS doesn’t track yoga teachers specifically. Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors, however, earn a mean annual wage of $43,720.
For 12 years, Veronica Parker has been teaching and coaching women. “As a wellness mindset coach, I teach women how to change their minds and create powerful new habits allowing them to be healthy, feel good, and live a fulfilled life,” she said. “This job has also become a way of living and being. I personally put into practice what I teach other women to do in their own lives.”
This involves giving herself what she needs in order to give more to everyone she loves, and being aware of what’s happening inside her own body and mind to figure out what’s working for her, and what’s not. “I practice what I teach others within me so I can share not only from my certifications, but also from my personal experience,” said Parker. “I absolutely love what I do and I totally enjoy how it's become a way of being for me. It's fabulous to get paid to do what you love knowing it is helping women change their lives and in the process it is changing your own for the best.”
Salary potential: The BLS doesn’t track wellness coaches specifically. Coaches overall, however, make a mean wage of $42,540.
Another career with plenty of flexibility is freelance writing. You can work anywhere, at any time of the day or night, as long as you have a laptop and good WiFi. This means you could work from home one day and from the library or your favorite coffee shop the next. You can set your work schedule to suit other commitments and even save money, such as by traveling during off-peak times and working during rush-hour.
“I love the flexibility being a freelance writer provides,” said Anna Laurie. “I work for a wide range of clients, and I set my own hours. One day I might work for 12 hours, the next day for two hours. As long as I’m organized and plan ahead, I can have complete control over my work.” And the perks are endless: Laurie took two months off last year to travel around Europe. “That’s something none of my friends with ‘regular’ jobs could ever do,” she said.
Salary potential: According to the BLS, writers and authors earn a mean annual wage of $72,120.
Becoming a registered dietitian does require graduating with a degree in nutrition, completing an internship and passing your state’s dietetics examination, but the hard work pays off in terms of long-term benefits. Practicing what you preach in relation to nutrition, fitness and mindfulness makes a dietitian a great lifestyle career. But the benefits of being a dietitian can go beyond a healthy lifestyle — it can provide a great work/life balance.
“There are so many different areas of nutrition that you can work part time, remote, work multiple jobs that appeal to your interest, or start a business and make your own hours,” said registered dietitian Jeanette Kimszal. “Traditionally, people think of hospital jobs for RDs, but now there are so many opportunities available. Dietitians are working in schools, the government, gyms and as consultants for private companies. Contract and part-time positions available to RDs are a great way to dip your toes into different types of jobs, providing even greater flexibility.”
Salary potential: According to the BLS, dietitians and nutritionists earn a mean annual wage of $60,150.
Consultancy work can be a great lifestyle career because it’s so varied. “I almost never get burned out because I switch clients and projects often,” said James Pollard, who owns marketing consultancy TheAdvisorCoach.com. “If I get tired of working on a certain project, I can just switch to something new. Because I work within the financial services industry, I have a huge market. There's tens of thousands of financial advisors out there who need marketing help. If I encounter a client who is a pain-in-the-butt, I kick him or her to the curb. I don't have a dependency on any clients — if they want me to work with them, they have to behave... and they know it.”
Another perk of the job is personal travel. “The majority of my work is done remotely,” says Pollard. “People hire me for my expertise, which can be given from a laptop or a phone. I don't need to be physically present to help them. This has allowed me to travel the world while still helping people.”
Salary potential: The BLS doesn’t track wages for consultants as a specific group. For the major group the BLS calls business and financial operations occupations, the mean annual wage is $76,330.
It’s never too late to pursue your dream lifestyle career. Dan Nainan left a career as a senior engineer with a multinational technology corporation to pursue comedy full-time, and has since performed in almost every state as well as in 28 countries, at two Democratic National Conventions, at a TED Conference, at several presidential inaugural galas, and for Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton, Arianna Huffington and many other luminaries. He also appeared in an Apple “Get a Mac” commercial and did voiceover work for the animated TV series “Family Guy.”
Nainan’s career comes with huge perks — global travel and rubbing shoulders with celebrities for starters — but he says what makes it so fulfilling is taking a joke that he thought of in the shower or while talking to a friend, then trying it out in front of an audience before ultimately performing it in front of thousands of people and having them “absolutely dying with laughter.”
“It's knowing that you're making people happy and making them forget about their worries, if just for a little while,” he said.
Salary potential: The BLS doesn’t track wages for comedians as a specific group. For the major group the BLS calls Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports and Media Occupations, the mean annual salary is $58,950.
Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, but have one thing in common: the ability to see opportunities and solve problems in new ways.
Sara Schaer was working at a big tech company and raising two young kids when she developed Kango, an app that provides safe rides and childcare for busy families. “There is definitely some symmetry between my career and my lifestyle as a mom,” said Schaer. “When I was creating the app, I drew inspiration from my own life challenges as a working mom, where I was juggling work, meetings and business travel with carpool, sports and other activities.”
Like many entrepreneurs, Schaer doesn’t really see her career as a “job.” “I love helping other parents, and am especially passionate about building a company that both services and employs other working moms,” she said. “When you build a consumer product where the target market is very similar to your own self, each problem you solve feels personally gratifying. I also use the app regularly in my day-to-day life to provide safe rides for my sons, which is another way my career and lifestyle are parallel.”
There’s no doubt that being a founder is hard work, and there’s not often much chance to switch off completely, but the payoff is flexibility both at work and at home. “I'm able to answer emails from my phone in between dinner and a family movie night, get some work done early before taking the kids to school, or I can work remotely for a few days while the kids are on spring break,” said. “Each side of your life accommodates and adapts to the other.”
Salary potential: The BLS doesn’t track wages for entrepreneurs as a group. Salaries vary greatly by individual career.
Marketing is one of those careers where you can combine your creativity with your communication skills and analytical abilities. If you choose carefully, you can find a role that lets you use your imagination — and pays you well for it.
And some companies take this even further. “Our team is fully remote, which provides a great opportunity for work and lifestyle,” said Michael Alexis, Chief Marketing Officer for museum tour company Museum Hack. “For example, I love cruises and so often work from cruise ships. Many boats have good internet, and food, etc. is taken care of, so I find working in this way helps me be more productive and more relaxed.”
While Museum Hack tour guides do need to be available in the operating cities (NYC, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC), the company doesn’t have an office anywhere and has built systems and a structure that allows support team (admin, marketing, sales, etc.) to work from home.
Salary potential: According to the BLS, marketing managers earn a mean annual wage of $145,620.
Another career that can be completely remote is an SEO (search engine optimization) specialist, which involves helping clients make more money online by optimizing and marketing their websites in order to appear on the top pages of Google results for certain target keywords.
“I’m living my dream,” said Joanna Vaiou, who runs her own SEO business. “My career gives me a great lifestyle because of the freedom I have to choose where I work, what hours I work, who my clients and partners are, and the prices I charge. Experiencing this level of freedom is pure happiness. In life, there are many things that we can't control and we should not let ourselves worry about those things. What we can control though, is how we live and how we spend a significantly large amount of our time here which is our work time.”
Salary potential: The BLS doesn’t track SEO specialists specifically. However, computer user support specialists make an annual mean wage of $54,150, and a group classified as desktop publishers earns a mean wage of $45,170.
An Expert in Your Field
As Chief Brand and Engagement Officer of EHE, Joy Altimare is considered to be a “career expert,” but when you find your purpose and passionately pursue it, you can become an expert in any field. It comes down to living a life of purpose vs. chasing a career, says Altimare.
“Personally, I’ve approached my professional journey as a process that would match my personal interests and could marry my interests outside of the office,” she said. “Family has always been important to me. While I wasn’t sure that I would get married or have children, I knew that I wanted to the flexibility of working from home as my parents aged — and as I aged. So I picked a profession that allowed flexibility and appreciated the integration required when you are a working parent. Family-friendly environments are supportive and, in turn, produce more productive employees.”
Altimare recommends marrying your personal interest with your career objective for the most fulfilling career. “I’m a bit nosey,” she said. “I love asking questions around ‘how’ and ‘why’ to understand the motivations of a person’s behavior. So being a marketer has been the best job for me.”