Layoffs aren’t the only bad thing about a recession or an economically unstable situation. An economic downturn can impact everything from your student loans to your work benefits and your retirement savings, especially if it lasts for a while.
Our most recent crisis, of course, came from COVID-19, and its effects were felt in some industries more than others. As an example, the crisis outright gutted the travel and tourism industry.
Other industries such as tech or healthcare, however, managed to survive and even thrive during COVID-19.
Economic instability doesn’t have to damage your career prospects. Here are just a few fields where you can find work even when times are tough.
Healthcare is considered recession-proof because it’s always going to fulfill a need of the public. No matter what’s going on elsewhere, sick people are still going to need doctors.
That said, you don’t have to become a doctor to work in healthcare. Another great thing about the field is that it offers a wide variety of job opportunities, including:
- Law and policy
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for healthcare occupations is $75,040 per year, but the upper end of the scale can cross six figures for highly lucrative careers.
You might be surprised to see the finance industry on this list since it’s suffered a number of booms and crashes over the years. Looking at the field as a whole, however, its necessity has allowed it to weather all storms and continue its growth and expansion to this day.
Another good thing about finance occupations is that they’re available at all levels of education. Associate degree holders can become bookkeepers and loan officers. Bachelor’s and master’s degree holders can become accountants, controllers, budget analysts, financial advisors, and private wealth managers. Wall Street is also open to people from all walks of life who want to strike it big as traders or stockbrokers.
Public Utility Services
Public utility services are the ones that keep society going on a day-to-day basis. They include water, gas, electricity, sewage, trash, and more.
These aren’t to be confused with trade careers such as plumbing and contracting. While these can also survive unstable economies out of sheer necessity, they aren’t considered interchangeable with public utility services because some of them aren’t public services. You can have a trade that’s “non-essential” and easily laid off during times of crisis.
Fun fact about public utility services: Their bubble of protection often extends beyond themselves. For example, if a city service needs to be inspected or audited on a regular basis, those inspecting or auditing firms can enjoy guaranteed, recession-proof work as well.
Education is a public institution that’s needed not just for its own merits but as part of the cogs and gears of society. While it isn’t unheard of for school systems to shut down, it usually triggers far-reaching consequences in terms of economics.
The good news is that, like healthcare, you don’t have to take the most common job in education to reap the benefits of its occupational stability. You can explore a number of potential careers in education, including:
- Instructional design
- Career counseling
- Educational consulting
You can even become an “educator” or “instructor” for adults when you consider a career like a corporate trainer.
Computer science jobs are always in demand, especially at highly skilled and technical levels. They also have the benefit of being remote. You can work computer science jobs from anywhere as long as you have the tech to get your work done.
As for which computer science sectors are the most recession-proof, it will depend on the industry you’re serving. For example, IT services are needed by nearly every business.
Computer and information technology occupations are expected to grow by 15 percent in the next decade, which is much, much faster than the national average. More than a million jobs will be created and restaffed!
On the whole, insurance tends to be a steady field. This is partly due to its necessity: If a state legally requires its drivers to have car insurance, they can’t skimp on it even during a recession, so the insurance companies stay in business.
Insurance companies also know how to batten down the hatches during tough times. For example, they might consolidate the same way that banks do, or they might rethink their investments or loosen their loan policies for the public. The end result is the same. They’ll stay afloat until the economy stabilizes again.
Police officers are the most obvious of public safety careers, but others include everything from correctional officers to fire and accident investigators. Again, it’s an institution that’s needed by society no matter how tightly the purse strings get pinched shut. No city wants to be without a fire department.
A related field is emergency and rescue services; oftentimes, they overlap with public safety services.
A third field to consider is emergency management or disaster management. While it’s a very specialized area, it can be in great demand during epidemics, natural disasters, and other large-scale events. It also tends to have a global reach that ensures steady employment if you’re willing to work inside and outside of the US.
Many people learned about the importance of supply chains during COVID-19. What’s lesser known is that supply chains can be divided into four distinct parts: integration, operations, purchasing, and distribution.
Each of these groups has its own careers, salaries, and job growth rates. They also have their own economic elasticity. Supply chain managers, for example, tend to survive recessions; everyday delivery drivers might not.
As with many other fields, the more education, and experience that you have, the greater job security that you’ll enjoy.
Common Themes in Economically Resilient Careers
We’ve talked about jobs that tend to survive economic push-and-pulls. But what gives them their enduring qualities?
Society has an intrinsic need for doctors, teachers, technicians, and public service officials, especially during times of crisis. It’s less likely to require shopping malls. Try to find a field that’s considered “essential” no matter what’s going on with the stock market.
Realistic Outlooks on Their Industry
Do you remember watching Too Big to Fail (available on DIRECTV STREAM) and scoffing at the bankers who refused to admit what was happening during the 2008 financial crisis? You don’t want to be like them, and you don’t want to be employed by people like them. Remember: No job is bulletproof.
Some industries were able to weather COVID-19 because they made the switch to remote working, processing, or shipping. They allowed their employees to work from home or their customers to enable things like contactless delivery. This kind of flexibility can make all of the difference in an industry’s survival rate during a recession.
Careers that May Not be the Best Choice
Some jobs are hit harder by recessions than others.
The hospitality industry, for example, took billion-dollar hits during COVID-19. It also tends to suffer during regular economic downturns since people have less disposable income.
Other “non-essential” industries can hurt for similar reasons, including the entertainment industry.
Some industries are also known for being poised on bubbles that can pop during troubled times. These include real estate, construction, automotive sales, and retail.
How to Stay Employed During a Recession
While no job is truly recession-proof, you can increase your odds of stable employment by knowing a little about what makes an economically resilient career and what doesn’t. Especially in today’s uncertain world, a little diligence can go a long way.