Imagine: you land your dream job, only to get laid off just a few years later when the next recession inevitably hits.
It’s a fear that plagues workers across all industries. But the truth is that some professions are more vulnerable to recessions than others.
And if you’re in one of these vulnerable industries, you’re probably longing for the security and peace of mind that come with more recession-proof jobs. Maybe you were one of the 33.5 million Americans who were laid off in 2020, or you know someone who was and never want to be in that position yourself.
Don’t worry — whether you’re new to the working world or looking to switch careers, our list of recession-proof jobs will set you on the path to financial stability, no matter what shape the economy is in.
8 Recession-Proof Jobs for All Education and Skill Levels
1. Medical Professionals
There’s no such thing as a job that’s 100% guaranteed to survive a recession, but medical professionals like doctors, nurses, radiographers, pharmacists, paramedics therapists, physician’s assistants and medical technicians come close.
The same goes for veterinarians and their assistants, as well as less-visible healthcare workers: hospital administrators, transcriptionists, receptionists and even janitors.
Why? Well, biology doesn’t care about the economy: people and animals will still get sick and injured whether or not there’s a recession going on. And when that happens, they’ll turn to the same medical professionals they trust during boom times.
Of course, becoming a doctor or nurse requires years of specialized training — not ideal for a midlife career change. But there are many healthcare positions that are accessible to those with experience in other industries.
For instance, a background in accounting or management could make you well-qualified for a position as a clinic or hospital administrator. If you’ve got experience with computers, you could become an essential part of a hospital’s IT team.
And if you’re brand-new to the workforce, there are plenty of positions that require little to no experience: home care aides, receptionists and medical billers are always in high demand.
2. Utility Workers
Without water, electricity, waste management and communication lines, our society would collapse, even if the economy was otherwise fantastic.
And that’s why there will always be a need for utility workers.
Whether you work as a lineman for your local power company, a technician at your municipal wastewater plant or an administrator at a recycling facility, you’ll still be needed during the dregs of a recession.
Don’t want to work in management or in the field? Good news: utility companies still need plenty of behind-the-scenes labor at all skill levels, including customer support, IT and accounting.
3. Law Enforcement and Public Safety Officers
Recession or not, someone needs to make sure that everyone’s getting along and following the laws. And that means that if you work in law enforcement, your job probably isn’t going anywhere regardless of how grim the economy is.
Police officers are the most visible law enforcement workers, but they’re not the only ones. 911 dispatchers, probation officers, crime scene investigators, forensic technicians, court bailiffs, corrections officers and support staff all fall under the law enforcement banner.
Other public safety workers, like firefighters and ambulance drivers, also enjoy a high level of job security during recessions. And don’t forget about the secretaries, transcriptionists, accountants and maintenance workers who keep everything running — these positions are highly valued as well.
4. Teachers and Professors
No matter what the economy does, we’ll always need teachers to educate the next generation. And as some of the country’s most unionized workers, teachers already get even more job security than most, making them solidly recession-proof.
K-12 teachers and administrators are among the most secure positions, but other school employees are also likely to make it through recessions. These include receptionists, school nurses, counselors, janitors, security guards, cafeteria workers, IT technicians and teacher’s aides.
College professors aren’t as unionized as K-12 teachers, but their jobs tend to stick around during recessions, too. In fact, demand for professors increased during the Great Recession as more people pursued higher degrees (and the more secure jobs that come with them).
5. Legal Professionals and Lawyers
Law is a tricky field when it comes to recessions: some areas see a dramatic increase in demand, while others dwindle. Whether you’re a lawyer, paralegal, secretary or legal assistant, the key to surviving a recession is to choose the right area of practice.
Bankruptcy law firms, for instance, get a lot of business during recessions, as do divorce attorneys and criminal defenders. Even the lower-paid, less-skilled positions in these areas enjoy plenty of security during the worst economic conditions.
And government-employed legal professionals, such as court reporters and records clerks, are generally recession-proof as well.
6. Grocery Store Workers
Whether you’re stocking shelves, operating the register, collecting carts or managing the office, if you work at a grocery store, you’re golden during a recession.
In fact, as more people opt for budget-friendly home-cooked meals over expensive restaurant fare, grocery stores see more business than ever when times are tough. And that means more secure job opportunities for those in need of work.
Grocery stores are among the few recession-friendly employers for new or unskilled workers. However, not all stores are equal in this regard: specialty grocers, very small companies and high-end stores are more likely to lay off workers than larger, lower-priced chains.
7. Financial Professionals
A recession means that the economy is in shambles — and who better to get everyone through it than our trusty financial professionals?
Companies will always need people to prepare their taxes, handle their insurance, maintain their books and manage their money. So if you’ve got a background in accounting, insurance, taxes or other areas of finance, you should have no problem staying employed during a recession.
Insurance agencies, accounting firms and government taxation agencies are great employment options for financial professionals, but they’re far from the only ones. Just about every industry needs financial services, giving you the rare luxury of choice when seeking a job during a recession.
8. Automotive Mechanics
People tend to not buy new cars during recessions, making the sales department at your local dealership a bad place to be. But over in the service department, business will be as steady as ever.
Cars break down no matter what, and that’s what makes automotive repair one of the best industries to be in during a recession. Mechanics, auto body repair techs and tow truck drivers remain in high demand when times are tough.
In fact, as more people opt to keep their older cars rather than buy new ones, mechanics may actually see more business. Older cars need more repairs and maintenance, so recessions tend to leave automotive professionals with packed schedules and plenty of work.