In our last article, we told you about some of the best recession proof jobs on the market. Today, we’re adding a few more to the list for you!
In the previous article, we underscored the impact that various systematic realities will likely have on the job market over the next several years. We discussed several ways that the rise in automation and the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence may undercut human job security in widespread and unpredictable ways. Technological advances may indeed threaten to cause sustained, long-term damage to America’s labor market.
But today, we revisit the subject with an eye to the more immediate future. Today, economists are grappling with a set of strange currencies and mixed messages. Some foresee prolonged economic downturn on the horizon. And a number of economists see a variety of worrisome indicators as evidence of an economic recession on the road ahead.
We’ll take a quick look at some of these indicators, and we’ll use this as a jumping off point for identifying several more recession proof job opportunities that you might consider in the face of our current economic uncertainty.
A Quick Look At Recessions: Should We Should Be Worried?
What Is a Recession?
Recessions are prolonged economic downturns that are both widespread and which carry significant economic consequences. Investopedia says that while more complex equations may be referenced to determine whether or not a recession is taking place, the simplest rule of thumb is that two consecutive quarters of shrinking gross domestic product (GDP) indicate a recession.
A recession is usually characterized by symptoms like declining national production, softening retail sales, and rising unemployment. But Investopedia points out that there is not one exact set of factors that indicates a recession. Instead, a recession is usually best described as “a significant, pervasive, and persistent decline in economic activity.”
One specific effect that Investopedia warns of is the lagging impact that a recession can have on the job economy. Economists warn that while a recession itself may only occur over a period of several months, the impact on the lives of actual people can linger for years. This is particularly true when it comes to employment indicators, which may lag behind other indicators of recovery. Indeed, it is common for economists to speak of recovery even as everyday workers and families are struggling with the aftershocks.
While it’s easy to stand back and view recessionary events from a macroeconomic perspective, many Americans will feel the very real day to day impact of the economic downturn in profound ways. This underscores the importance of seeking out jobs where demand remains high in the face of all economic conditions.
Why are economists worried about a recession?
Now that you understand just a little bit about what a recession is, let’s face some tough facts. Many economists warn today that we may indeed be staring down the barrel of a sustained economic downturn.
Forbes points to the following converging factors:
- Ongoing consumer inflation;
- Rising interest rates;
- A sudden and unforeseen banking crisis; and
- The dreaded Inverted Yield Curve.
A few notes on the last of these.
What is an inverted yield curve?
Bear with us while we parse this concept, which economists often view as something of a canary in the coalmine when it comes to impending recession.
The yield curve refers to the return on investment for bonds over a set period of time. In a healthy economy, with a normal yield curve, long term yields are higher than short term yields.
This, explains Investopedia, is because the longer bond has a higher “duration risk.” This means that a 10-year bond will yield more, for instance, than a 2-year bond because the investor is taking on greater risk. This risk is implied by the greater possibility of inflation or interest rate hikes over time. Yields, therefore, will traditionally go up over time. This normal trend is represented as an upward yield curve.
By contrast, when yields on shorter term bonds go up and yields go down on longer dated bonds, the result is an inverted yield curve. The resulting inversion may imply that “traders anticipate near term economic weakness leading to eventual interest rate cuts.”
Often, this inversion of yields is set into motion by a rise in near-term interest rates. As noted above, this does describe our present situation. Indeed, in early May 2023, the Federal Reserve announced its 10th interest rate hike since March of 2022. The result has been a spike in interest rates from the miniscule .25% to our present day rates which, at the time of writing, stand at 5.25%.
The Fed also notes that, in light of its goal to curb inflation yet further, interest rates are likely to continue their upward trend. So will this produce a recession?
Is a recession coming?
Investopedia says that while not every inverted yield curve inherently precedes a recession, the last ten recessions have in fact been anticipated by such a curve. And according to Forbes, “The New York Fed recession probability indicator suggests there is a 68.2% chance of a U.S. recession sometime in the next 12 months.”
This, says Forbes, combines with a clear slowdown in national growth. At the time of writing, the latest U.S. GDP report showed that economic growth had slowed to 1.1% in the first quarter of 2023, a sharp drop from the previous quarter’s 2.6% rate of expansion. This, says Forbes, reinforces fears that a sustained contraction of the economy may be on the near horizon
Some analysts forecast that the U.S. may go into a recession by the third quarter 2023, though more likely some time in 2024. There are others who cite easing inflation and continually strong performance in the job market as evidence to the contrary, suggesting we may come through this period of plodding growth without plunging into an actual recession.
So where does that leave us? Well, as American workers, it leaves us in a general state of economic uncertainty. Whether you’re a student preparing to enter the workforce, or a current worker considering a change, you need to be cognizant of these realities, and you need to plan your career accordingly.
How can you prepare for tough economic times?
Obviously, economic uncertainty is not awesome, especially if you’re just entering the job.
So what’s the big takeaway here? Well, while no job is completely recession proof, it has never been more important to weigh the short- and long-term job security specific to your intended field. You will be looking for jobs that retain their value in both periods of prosperity and during poor economic times. This can describe jobs across a wide range of sectors including the medical industry, federal government jobs, and for workers in a wide range of essential services.
And in the face of our rising dependence on computer technology and automation, a growing number of these jobs will be held either by those who are highly skilled in specialized areas, those who are tech savvy, and most preferably, those who are both. This highlights two critical features of most recession proof jobs in both the short- and long-term.
As we noted in our previous installment on this subject, the jobs that are most likely to remain in higher demand even in the face of recession are:
- Jobs for which human skills are required, and where critical functions may not be replaced by automated processes; and
- Jobs in which human operators are required to innovate around or operate emergent technologies.
And as we noted in the previous installment, these qualifications can cover a lot of ground and traverse a full spectrum of industries. That’s why we decided to compile a second set of recession proof jobs for your consideration.
10 More Recession Proof Jobs
The least at risk jobs tend to be those for which there is both projected growth and projected demand. In other words, the goal is to set your sights on jobs with large labor pools and a projected growth rate that is equal to or greater than the national average rate of growth for all jobs, which is 6%.
It’s worth noting that a wide range of careers will meet this qualification regardless of salary range and educational attainment. To wit, there are numerous recession proof jobs that may not require a higher education but which may meet our standards for inclusion–high growth and high demand.
1. Information Security Analysts
Information security analysts enjoy tremendous job security. This is because their skill set is in demand in an extremely wide range of settings. We are increasingly reliant on these skills to protect growing bodies of data, national security interests, financial institutions, communication networks, and much more.
Information security analysts are primarily charged with building, maintaining, and improving the security measures used to protect computer networks, systems, and data. Information security analysts may work in a wide range of settings including IT security consultants, financial institutions, private companies, government agencies, law enforcement organizations, and much more.
This diversity of opportunities explains the extraordinarily robust rate of growth projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of 2021, information security analysts commanded a median annual salary of $102,600 with an incredible 35% rate of growth projected between now and 2031. This amounts to the addition of 56,500 jobs over the next decade in a field which already employs more than 163,000 working professionals.
In most cases, you would likely be qualified to work as an information security analyst with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. Many employers will also be seeking those with relevant work experience and pertinent professional certifications. However, there is ample evidence that these specialized credentials could lead you down a professional path with relatively strong job security even during a period of recession or slow recovery.
2. Web Developers and Digital Designers
Similar to information security analysts, those in the field of web development and digital design will boast skills that are in high demand. As more and more of our social, commercial, and recreational interactions move online, those with the ability to facilitate and enhance these experiences are in a strong position to weather economic downturn.
Web developers are those who build, maintain, and enhance web sites, mobile apps, interactive gaming platforms, VR displays, and much more. Digital designers are usually those responsible for creating optimal user experiences in all of these same environments through improved functionality, navigability, and user interface. Many working professionals will have overlapping skills in both areas. Likewise, web developers and digital designers will typically work closely together.
It goes without saying that there are no limits to the demands for these skills today. Moreover, you could apply these abilities in virtually any sector. Web developers and digital designers may be employed directly by ad agencies, giant retail chains, financial firms, and much more. Likewise, web developers and digital designers may work independently as consultants or as the owners of their own companies, providing services to a full spectrum of clients in various industries.
This versatility accounts for both the strength of pay and job security in this field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for Web Developers and Digital Designers was $78,300 in 2021, with an extremely robust projected 23% rate of growth between now and 2031. This amounts to the addition of 45,400 jobs over the next decade. This is in a field where there are already more than 197,000 individuals earning a living.
For fields with high pay and high growth, web development and digital design are unique in that there is not a specific educational requirement. You may be able to acquire the skills and build a portfolio needed to advance in this field with a high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree. You may be able to earn valuable skills and certifications through a coding bootcamp. Or you may be entirely self-trained and educated.
One of the cool things about this recession proof job is that you need only to prove your abilities in order to qualify. A formal higher education may help you gain the required knowledge and skills, and stand out in a competitive field, but there are in fact many pathways into this high growth field.
3. Mental Health Professionals
Mental health professionals are part of a broader set of essential services that remain in high demand. In fact, mental health needs are often at their highest during economic uncertainty. Today, thanks in part to a growing understanding of the many forms that mental health care can take, there are countless avenues for mental health professionals who wish to make a career out of caring for others.
Mental health professionals include those who provide counseling and support in areas like drug and alcohol addiction, behavioral disorders, family crises, and much more. Mental health professionals may provide support through private practices, community health facilities, mental health centers, and more.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that job hunters can anticipate an extremely healthy 22% rate of growth between now and 2031. This amounts to the addition of 77,500 jobs over the next decade in a field with a median annual salary of $48,520 in 2021. With more than 350,000 working in the field today, you can expect about 43,000 job openings every year.
The mental health profession encompasses a wide range of roles, responsibilities, and specializations. That also means there are numerous different educational pathways. For instance, says the BLS, those who wish to become substance abuse counselors can typically qualify with a bachelor’s degree. Those who wish to become mental health counselors in clinical settings will likely be required to earn a master’s degree as well as a license to practice in your state.
Whichever path you choose, mental health care is not just a recession proof job. It’s also a job that gives you a heightened opportunity to help others during times of hardship.
4. Chefs and Head Cooks
Food services are an interesting case. While the spate of restaurant closings during the COVID-19 crisis created undue challenges for restauranteurs, it also demonstrated that those who provide food to the dining public qualify as essential services.
Outside of the unique circumstances of a global pandemic, chefs and cooks are usually in a strong position to survive periods of recession. While job turnover in the restaurant industry can be high, opportunities and job opening still abound for those with the required skills to oversee a kitchen.
Indeed, chefs and head cooks are responsible for the uniquely challenging and high paced role of leading food preparations in places like restaurants, hotels, cruise ships, resorts, and more. But this accounts for only part of the reason chefs are in steady demand. Chefs are also required in countless everyday settings from hospitals and school cafeterias to college dining halls and sports arenas.
In other words, wherever people gather to eat, somebody has to run the kitchen. This is why, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for chefs and cooks will grow by a rate of 15% in the next ten years. With a median annual salary of $50,160 in 2021 and 152,000+ working in the field today, the job economy will add an additional 23,600 openings for chefs and head cooks over the next decade.
Like a number of other industries that make our list, the culinary field may be entered by numerous educational pathways. You may be able to earn a role heading up a kitchen with a high school diploma and work experience. Many aspiring chefs will attend a focused culinary school, or complete a culinary program through a community college for four-year school. Some chefs may simply secure the funding to open their own restaurant on the strength of apprenticeship and raw talent.
In other words, there are numerous avenues into this career. But in truth, there is no substitute here for experience and on-the-job training. The good news is that it may be worth the effort. Once you know what you’re doing, you’ll possess a set of skills for which there will always be demand.
5. Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Being a lawyer may pay extremely well. But the education can cost a fortune and take a really long time. Not to mention, it’s an extremely competitive field. We’re not trying to discourage you. We’re just pointing out that, by comparison, becoming a paralegal or legal assistant may be a savvy and cost-effective move.
Paralegals and legal assistants–as the name suggests–provide direct support to lawyers and law firms. This may take the form of conducting legal research, compiling sources for a case, gathering documents and information from clients, and more. And while the economy is projected to add bar certified lawyers at a healthy rate of 10% over the next decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that job opportunities will grow at an even healthier rate of 14% for legal assistants and paralegals.
With more than 352,800 individuals working in legal support roles as of 2021, the BLS anticipates the accumulation of an additional 49,900 jobs over the next decade. As of 2021, the median annual salary for legal assistants was $56,230. And because it may be possible to secure this role with a minimum of an associate’s degree or a certificate in paralegal studies, most will enter into this esteemed role with an absolute minimum of student loan debt.
This makes it a pretty sound investment in the face of a probable recession. And for those who ultimately aspire to become attorneys, it can serve as a great starting point for on-the-job training. This type of role can also serve as a recession proof job shelter until negative economic conditions subside and returning to school for a bachelor’s degree and/or law degree may feel like a more sound investment.
6. Occupational Therapists
Most roles in healthcare qualify as essential services. This qualification often equates to some insulation from negative economic conditions. Occupational therapists serve as an excellent example. Occupational therapists are, in a sense, both healthcare professionals and job counselors.
The role of the occupational therapist is to work with and treat those who have injuries, illnesses or disabilities which make work and daily living difficult. Occupational therapists may work in healthcare and rehabilitation facilities, schools, outpatient clinics, through home healthcare services and in numerous other settings, supporting clients physically, emotionally, and practically on their path to independence.
The role of occupational therapist incorporates elements of both physical and mental health care. Therefore, those aspiring to the profession will typically require a master’s degree, as well as state licensure.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational therapists earned a median salary of $85,570 in 2021. Alongside this healthy rate of pay, job openings for occupational therapists are projected to grow at a pace of 14% between now and 2031. This amounts to the addition of 18,600 jobs over the next decade in a field currently employing just under 134,000 licensed occupational therapists.
7. Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers
Among the creative fields, few pathways offer more opportunity or better job security than the marketing and advertising fields. This is especially true of those who rise to leadership roles in the field.
Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers are typically responsible for activities relating to the coordination and implementation of marketing campaigns for goods, services, brands, organizations, political elections, and much more. In most cases, advertising, promotions, and marketing managers will work for advertising agencies.
Most of these agencies will require candidates to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in marketing or in a related field. Those who aspire to management roles must typically garner some work experience first. And in a highly competitive field, those who go on to earn an MBA with a concentration in marketing or advertising will likely improve both their earning potential and opportunities for advancement.
This advancement may be well worth it in a field which is rapidly growing, especially in digital spaces. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers was $133,380 in 2021, with a projected 10% rate of growth between now and 2031. This amounts to the addition of 33,700 jobs over the next decade in a field that already employs more than 347,000.
8. Social Workers
As with mental health care professionals, social workers are in the unique position of being able to help those impacted by crisis. In other words, social workers are professionals who are in particularly high demand during periods of economic distress.
Social workers will work in a wide range of community, public health, and educational settings. As a social worker, it is your responsibility to work with individuals, families and communities coping with dysfunction, mental health challenges, addiction, poverty, and more.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for social workers was $50,390 in 2021, with a projected 9% rate of growth between now and 2031. This amounts to the addition of 64,000 jobs over the next decade, with more than 708,000 social workers already in the field.
While it may be possible to become a social worker in some settings with just a bachelor’s degree, working in any clinical setting such as a hospital or mental health center will require you to earn a master’s degree as well as undergoing a period of supervised clinical experience and subsequent completion of your state’s licensing examination. It’s also important to be sure that your degree is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Only a CSWE-accredited master’s degree will qualify you for licensure in most states.
Once you’ve completed these requirements, you will qualify for a job that offers steady demand, a massive job pool, and the chance to help others every single day.
9. Medical Records Specialists
The technology sector and the healthcare sector are, separately, two relatively recession proof career paths. So it makes sense that a job merging these two areas would also be particularly resistant to economic downturn. Today, the healthcare industry is increasingly dependent on a highly complex web of data including patient medical records, medical industry coding, insurance information, and more.
Medical records specialists are generally responsible for compiling, processing, and maintaining the vast amounts of data that pass through healthcare organizations and networks. There are considerable job opportunities for those with the knowledge and skills needed to leverage this data, and to utilize the various tools and networks containing and conveying this data. This role is largely computer mediated.
Every hiring organization will have its own educational requirements. In some cases, postsecondary certification may be required. In other instances, the role may call for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that these qualifications led to a median annual salary of $46,660 in 2021, paired with a slightly above average projected 7% rate of growth in the job market between now and 2031. This amounts to the addition of 12,300 jobs over the next decade in a field already employing well over 186,000 workers today.
10. Registered Nurses
Registered Nurses are unique among the occupations included on this list, insofar as their inclusion is less about the speed of growth in this field and far more about the sheer volume of jobs in the field, both currently and as projected in the future.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for Registered Nurses in 2021 was $77,600 with a projected 6% rate of growth between now and 2031. This paces the growth in the job field at roughly equal to the average pace of growth for all occupations in the U.S.
However, today, there are more than 3 million registered nurses working in an extremely wide variety of settings across the U.S. healthcare sector. As a result, that average pace of growth will amount to the massive addition of 195,000+ jobs to the U.S. labor market over the next decade. Factoring annual turnover into the equation, more than 203,000 job openings fill the market every year.
This makes sense. After all, nurses are needed in innumerable workplace settings. RNs provide direct care to patients in countless healthcare settings including hospitals, physician’s offices, long term care facilities, home healthcare services, outpatient clinics, schools, and much more.
This makes nursing one of the most recession proof jobs in the U.S. labor economy. While the rate of growth is steady, the scope of that growth means high demand and excellent job security in any economic cycle.
There are also several different educational pathways into this recession proof job. It may be possible to become an RN by earning a technical diploma through a focused and accredited nursing program, by completing an associate’s degree in nursing, or by earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Whichever of these paths you take, you must be certified to practice in your state, which will typically require completion of a licensing examination.
Of course, the jobs selected here are hardly the only careers that meet that threshold for surviving economic uncertainty. There are countless other fields in which there will also be a reliable baseline of demand and growth including.
Among others, police officers, financial professionals, construction industry professionals, physical therapists, dental assistants, insurance providers, funeral directors and numerous other professions require the kinds of specialized human skill sets that remain in steady demand even in uncertain times.
The primary takeaway here is that there is always a danger of an economic downturn. Your goal is to set your sights on a career that will likely be characterized by high growth and high demand in the coming years.