With economic downturns a regular occurrence, American workers continue to question their job security. This pandemic has brought to light that having an economic recession-proof job is rare – but is it impossible?
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S.’s highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression was in April of 2020, with over 20 million people filing for unemployment. When the weekly bonus unemployment money ended on July 31, 2020, many people questioned the economy’s ability to bounce-back.
Is there such a thing as a group of people having recession-proof jobs or recession-proof careers? Is there a way someone can protect or prepare better for the next dip in the economy? These questions will be answered here.
It is essential to know and understand that no career choice offers one hundred percent protection from an economic crisis. In a perfect world, these jobs would exist; however, they do not. However, some career fields offer more economic crisis resistant jobs than others.
SPONSORED: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor
1. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes.
2. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals get started now.
These jobs are in the medical field, first responders, teachers, public transit, utility workers, financial advisors, mail delivery and other essential workers.
We will go into more detail with each profession and the types of jobs they offer below. This article also details the educational requirements, national average salaries and retirement plans offered to each category.
Healthcare Professionals/Jobs In Healthcare
No matter how the economy is doing, there will always be a need for health care and some form of health insurance. From car accidents to people getting sick and dying, there will never be, nor has there ever been, a period in human history when medical advice and services were not needed.
While there is a possibility of work hours being cut during tough times, healthcare professionals are less likely to lose their job than other professions. The healthcare profession has continued to see steady growth during the current economic crisis and remains a top career choice regardless of economic conditions.
The amount of years required to become a doctor is between 11 to 14. To become a medical doctor, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree and attend medical school before enrolling in a residency program. Also, there are many career-related examinations to demonstrate proficiency in the student’s chosen specialty.
This education is required before given a permanent position at a hospital.
The national average salary of a doctor is a little over $106k per year. Doctors have a habit of retiring later in life than others in other professions for multiple reasons. Typical retirement packages for doctors include 401(k), pension plans, sound investments and traditional IRAs.
Like doctors, to become a surgeon, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree before going to medical school and completing a residency program. However, unlike doctors, surgeons must get a doctorate before starting their practice, which means more years spent in higher education and additional requirements.
The national average salary for a surgeon is a little over $374,000 per year. The typical retirement packages for surgeons are 401(k)s, retirement packages offered from their employer, investing and traditional IRAs.
Nurses require a shorter time in the classroom compared to other medical professionals. They require only a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Chamberlain College of Nursing is a popular school that many students hoping to be nurses attend to obtain their basic skills and certifications. Students also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam.
The national average salary of a registered nurse is over $69k per year. Typical retirement plans offered to nurses are pensions, 401(k)s and an IRA or Roth.
While an Anesthesiologist may seem like an easy job to some, it requires a high education level. Besides receiving a bachelor’s degree, one must complete a minimum of a master’s degree, complete a residency period, and choose a fellowship to specialize in a specific medical area. Also, there are stringent exams they must pass to obtain their licenses.
The national average salary for this field is a little over $258K per year. The retirement plans offered for anesthesiologists are 401(k) plans, traditional IRA plans and if provided by their employer, a pension plan.
5. Ultrasound Tech
The educational requirement to become an ultrasound tech depends on the location they want to work. Some states require only a sonography certificate, while others require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in the same subject.
The national’s salary average of almost $74K per year. The retirement plans offered for ultrasound tech is a 401(k).
The educational requires to differ from state to state. However, studying is anywhere from 40 hours to eight months to receive a phlebotomy certification.
The national average is almost $32K per year. Due to the lower salary offered, phlebotomists must be financially conscious and actively saving for retirement through employer-sponsored retirement plans if a pension is not offered.
To become a Chiropractor, one must obtain a Ph.D. degree in Chiropractic studies and receive state licensing to practice. This educational period equates to three years of understudy and four years for the actual doctorate itself.
The national average for a Chiropractor is a little over $70K a year. Retirement options that Chiropractors are to have an IRA or another type of saving.
8. Lab Techs
In most states, the educational requirements to become a Lab Tech is a bachelor’s degree. However, other locations may only require an associate degree depending on the medical field’s needs in that particular state. Several certificate programs exist to make yourself more competitive if you seek a job as a lab tech.
A little over $86K is the national salary average for this profession. Depending on the Retirement packages offered by an employer, one could receive a 401(k) or a pension.
9. Physical Therapists
This career requires a doctoral degree in physical therapy. The number of years it takes to get a doctoral degree will vary upon the school and program. Some schools will allow you to obtain both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees simultaneously, while others do not.
It is essential to investigate the states with job openings because each state pays differently, and some may only require an associate degree.
The national average salary is $84K per year. Retirement options are 401(k) or 403(b) plans.
10. Occupational Therapy
Occupational Therapists require a minimum of a master’s degree. They can opt to go for the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapists certificate if they want more knowledge of their field. In addition, therapists must get their state license before practicing.
The national average is a little over $80K per year. The retirement plan options with this career depend on the options the employer offers. Besides having an IRA and a possible 401(k), one should investigate other options to prepare for retirement.
11. Hospice Workers
It may be surprising, but the general minimum educational requirement to become a hospice social worker is a master’s degree.
On average, they make a little over $68K per year. This occupation is not emotionally easy because hospice care workers deal with death daily or weekly.
These employees are also required to help the terminally ill patient’s families navigate this traumatic time. This career’s retirement options are better than most because most hospice workers receive a generous 401(k) or pension plan.
Other In-Demand Healthcare Jobs
Besides the occupations listed above, other healthcare professions to consider are:
- Mental health care worker
- Physician assistant
- Personal care aides
- Social workers
- Nursing aides
- Home health aides / Assisted Living / Senior care providers
- Support staff in Psychiatric Units
First Responders / Public Safety
Anyone who signs up to be a first responder puts their life on the line. These jobs test a person’s mental and physical strength in ways other professions do not.
While being a first responder is not a safe job, you are normally rewarded with a comfortable retirement plan to deal with the stress levels. No matter the economic climate of the country, there will forever be a need for public service.
12. Law Enforcement
The minimum educational requirement is a High School Diploma or a GED. However, some state departments may require an associate or bachelor’s degree.
Other conditions to become a police officer are being at least 18 to 21 years old (depending on the state), having a clean record and completing the entrance exam and the police academy.
The national average salary for law enforcement officers is a little over $65K per year. Most police officers receive a pension for their retirement.
13. Corrections Workers
Like the continual need for line-level police officers, correction officers will always be needed to manage the jail and prison systems to ensure safety and security for both prisoners and the public.
On average, employees in Corrections earn an average salary of $36k – $55k per year. Corrections workers usually have state or county managed benefits and are eligible for pensions if the jail is not privately owned.
The minimum education required to become a firefighter is a High School Diploma or GED. However, some do go on to study fire science to further their career. In training, firefighters must successfully graduate from the fire academy and elect to pursue an Emergency Medical Technician certificate.
The national average salary for a firefighter is a little under $50k per year. Fire Fighters receive a retirement pension.
15. Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT)
The minimum educational requirement to become an EMT is a High School Diploma or a GED. They must have ambulance driver training and successfully earn an EMT certificate, which can take anywhere from one to two years.
Their national salary average is almost $37K a year. The retirement plan offered from EMTs depends on the employer, but many will receive a pension or employer-sponsored 401(k).
Public utility careers offer both more recession and depression proof jobs because the public still needs working utilities and roads no matter which economic cycle we are in. Some people look down on some of these jobs, not knowing the protection and high income these jobs provide to the people who do them.
The primary education required to become an electrician is a High School Diploma or GED. Potential electricians need an electrician certificate or associate degree either at a trade school or through the electricians union to receive training. These types of utility services will continue to be in strong demand regardless of negative economic activity.
After formal schooling, employees work in an apprenticeship status, including technical and job training. Upon completing the program, a formal electrician’s license must practice this trade in a solo capacity. On average, the schooling will last between one to five years, depending on what one’s state law mandates and the school one goes through.
The annual salary average is almost $50K for electricians. There is a union for electricians that can be joined for additional benefits. Retirement plans available are entirely dependent on the employer. In the case of contract work, it may be in the employee’s best interest to fund their IRA plan. Some unions have bargained for pensions, but these are quickly going away.
The educational requirement depends on what the employer wants. However, having a High School Diploma or GED would be the bare minimum. On-the-job training would be provided.
The annual average salary for a trash collector is over $41K. It can be a union job if one decides to join. Retirement plans differ from employer to employer, but a general 401(k) plan is available.
Recent High School Graduates are eligible to obtain a plumbing career without additional college credits. However, similar to electricians, plumbers must complete an apprenticeship that can take a few years, which is done in partnership with a plumber union or a trade association.
The national average of a plumber is almost $54K a year. Depending on if one is part of the league and if the employer offers a retirement plan or not, retirement options include a pension, a 401(k), or an IRA.
19. Cable/Internet Installer
Even though people cut expenses during a recession, businesses will still require internet and phone services. Installing and fixing cable wires and connections will always be needed due to multiple factors, including the need for high-speed internet due to web-based remote meetings.
The national annual average for a cable installer is $41K, and the minimum educational requirement is a High School Diploma. Individual employers may require an associate degree. Their employer may offer retirement benefits for cable installers. However, starting an IRA is highly recommended.
20. Gas Utility Service Worker
Different employers have different educational requirements for this position. However, they all require a minimum of a High School Diploma or a GED. The local gas utility companies offer a range of jobs, but the most well known to the public is the “gas utility worker.”
The average annual salary for a utility worker is close to $40K per year, depending on if it is part of a union. Retirement plans depend on the employer. Pensions are still available, but employer-sponsored 401(k) plans are taking over.
21. Construction Worker
Construction is another utility job that only requires a High School Diploma. This job does on-the-job training for the specialty sought by the employee. Even with a changing economy and uncertain times, construction workers will continue to be needed for essential maintenance.
The national salary average is almost $36K per year. Retirement plans and options are offered by the union and possibly by the employer, so one will have to investigate them further for full details.
While all the jobs listed above only require a High School Diploma and most are part of unions, their importance to the communities they serve is always in high demand. They may not be glorious jobs, but they pay about average compared to other jobs that require a bachelor’s degree.
Although recessions tend to eliminate jobs, it does not eliminate the need for people to get around. From getting to work to running errands around town, not everyone can afford a vehicle and insurance.
Some things like groceries must be brought in from out of state, and some business activities require traveling from one side of the country to the other. Here are just some of the public transit positions that are still needed during a downturn of the economy.
22. Commercial Driver
To be a bus or truck driver, the minimum education requirement is a High School Diploma or a GED. However, the most critical form of education is the successful passing of the Commercial Drivers License (CDL) test to obtain a CDL. It can take between three weeks to six months to obtain, depending on how long an applicant wants to study and how well they perform on the test.
This license must be renewed every five to eight years. The cost of schooling and how much the permit will cost is dependent on the state. However, the average cost of this education ranges from $3K to $7K.
A CDL truck driver’s national average salary is $66K, while a CDL bus driver makes $42K. A retirement plan for any CDL driver is dependent on the retirement options offered by the company.
The company may offer a retirement pension or package. If they do not, then one has the possibilities of a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.
23. Air Traffic Control
When you think of public transportation, an air traffic controller job may not be a career you think of. However, they are the extra eyes and ears that pilots rely on to travel safely.
The educational requirements to be an air traffic controller requires one to attend the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative program where students must complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree and pass exams set forth by the Academy of Federal Aviation Administration.
Besides the educational requirements, one must also pass a background check, a medical physical, and be a U.S citizen. Air traffic control is one of the most stressful careers one can have.
The pay may make it worthwhile for an air traffic controller’s national average salary of $123K per year. There is a retirement pension offered.
24. Commercial Airline Pilot
To become an airline pilot, you need a bachelor’s degree in aviation or some other related field and complete at least 1,500 hours of flight experience.
How much a pilot gets paid depends on various factors like experience and job title. However, the nationals average for a commercial air pilot is $175K per year.
Many pilot jobs are union jobs, so what kind of retirement options one has varies. One may be offered a retirement pension from one employer while a different employer may give others a 401(k).
While the educational requirements for these public transit workers jobs have a wide range, the dedication of providing an available service is still there. There will always be a demand for these positions to be filled.
Mail And Postal Services
In a world filled with technology, everyone still relies on the postal services to receive their packages. No matter how much we rely on paperless billing and paying bills online, there are some things that computers cannot do.
25. United States Postal Service
A career with the United States Postal Service is a government job with great benefits. The minimum educational requirement is a High School Diploma. The job’s minimum requirements are proof of citizenship, having a clean driving record, and passing a background check.
The hardest part of getting a job with the post office is passing the Virtual Entry Assessments, previously known as Postal Exam 473. A minimum passing grade of 70% or higher is required before an in-person interview. The higher the score, the better your chances of landing a job.
The annual national average is $58K. The retirement plan that postal workers are offered is a retirement package called the Federal Employment Retirement System. A postal worker can also draw from Social Security.
The minimum educational requirement to work for FedEx is a High School Diploma. Still, they prefer to have a bachelor’s degree in logistics, business, or related fields.
The national average salary is a little over $35K per year. FedEx offers a 401(k) for a retirement plan.
27. United Parcel Service (UPS)
There is no minimum educational requirement to meet when going for an entry-level position.
The national average salary for a UPS driver is over $83K per year. UPS offers a 401(k) retirement plan.
During a recession, personal finances can be significantly impacted. However, the financial industry continues to thrive during these economic cycles. Tax season does not stop, nor does the preparation it requires. From individual and business tax filling to people needing to file bankruptcy, financial services will continue to be needed.
28. Tax Professionals
There is no definite required minimum education required to become an entry-level tax preparer; however, there are college certificates and tax preparation courses available to take.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) now requires a paid tax filer to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. Depending on the job you are seeking in the tax field, you may need additional education, such as a Certified Personal Accountant designation.
The annual average salary for a tax professional is $39K per year. It depends on the company if they offer a retirement plan or not. Most can expect to have a 401(k), a traditional IRA, or a Roth IRA.
To get into an entry-level job as an accountant, you need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Some states also require you to pass the certified public accountant exam as part of their educational requirements.
The national average for an accountant is an annual salary of over $70K. Accounting companies may offer retirement pensions, but most do not. The best option would be to start a 401(k), a traditional IRA, or a Roth IRA.
30. Bankruptcy Attorneys And Divorce Attorneys
To become a bankruptcy attorney, a person needs to graduate law school and pass the bar exam before practicing law. To be a successful lawyer, you must have good communication and negotiation skills and a great understanding of current laws.
The national salary average for a bankruptcy lawyer is $119K per year. For a lawyer to prepare for retirement, they should enroll in a 401(k), a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA.
Other occupations that would fall under finance that could be interesting would be network administrators, finance specialists or budget analysts. If someone is good with numbers, working in the finance industry could be a temping recession-proof job career change.
Jobs In Education
There is a wide range of teaching positions within the education system that can ignite your passions.
There are two things you must think about when narrowing down what grade you wants to teach. The first is to decide what age range of students you would enjoy teaching.
The second is what subject you enjoy and would like to instruct. Once these questions are answered, the information below will give further details of a possible career change.
31. Elementary Teacher
Each state has minimum educational requirements to become an elementary school teacher. Some states only require a bachelor’s degree while others go a step further and require a master’s degree.
The national average for an elementary teacher is $59K per year. Elementary teachers receive a state pension when they retire after an average of 30 years of service, as well as a 403B option.
32. High School Teacher
A bachelor’s degree is required to become a high school teacher, along with additional educational certificates.
The average national salary for a person who teaches at a high school level is a little over $64K per year. Teachers receive a pension as a retirement package and a 403B option.
33. College Professor
The minimum educational requirement to become a college professor is a master’s degree. However, many universities require a Ph.D.
The average national salary of a college professor is $155K per year. Most colleges and universities provide a pension to eligible instructors.
Be sure to research the minimum requirements required to become a teacher in the state you live in. Also, many states pay their teachers and professors well under the national average, which also means a low pension in retirement.
While having a teaching position is more recession-proof than other jobs, it does not guarantee an easy career.
This pandemic has brought to light the importance of which jobs are deemed necessary for the public’s survival. The revelation of which jobs survived during the shut down reveals which jobs will more likely survive a recession. No matter the economy, people still need to eat, get to work, and, unfortunately, people continue to die.
Every grocery chain has different requirements for the range of positions they offer. The minimum educational requirement they all desire is a High School Diploma or a GED.
The national salary average for a grocery store worker is $25K per year. Mangers, of course, make slightly more. Retirement plans for grocery workers depend on if or what the employer offers. The best options would be a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.
35. Auto Mechanics
The minimum educational requirement to become a vehicle mechanic is a High School Diploma or equivalent. Depending on the shop you want to work at, and what type of vehicles you enjoy fixing, the requirements may vary.
Some dealers require additional vocational education and manufacturer-specific certifications, which must be renewed every few years.
During tough times, people drive older cars rather than new ones. This increases the need for mechanics.
The national salary average for this profession is a little over $40K per year. The shop owner may offer retirement plans; however, creating an IRA or Roth would be the best bet if no retirement plan is provided.
36. Fast Food Workers
Fast-food workers may not be the first choice for many people. It is not the most glamorous, but it is more secure since people will always need to eat. Fast food is a cheap way to feed a family and continue to thrive even in economic downturns. The minimum educational requirement for most fast food positions is a High School Diploma.
The average national salary for a fast-food worker is $23K per year. It depends on the employer if any retirement plans are offered. Having an IRA or a Roth is recommended.
37. Funeral Home Director
The funeral industry will continue to thrive, regardless of how the economy is doing. The minimum educational requirement to be a funeral director is an associate degree; however, some locations may require a bachelor’s degree.
Both degrees must be in mortuary science. Once undergraduate courses have finished, the next step is to complete an apprenticeship before taking the state exam.
The average salary for a funeral director is $49K per year. If a director becomes part of the National Funeral Directors Association, retirement plans like a 401(k) and pensions are available.
No matter what a chief economist says, essential jobs will be needed throughout the country during the recession’s highs and lows. These jobs are not fancy and do not strike excitement on a resume, but they pay the bills.
Other Skills Needed For A Recession-Proof Job
When tough times hit, many people look for other sources of income. From side gigs, pursuing a secondary degree, or change careers, it’s natural to look for a change that will make our lives financially more stable.
Computer coding is continually being sought after by tech companies as a needed specialized skill. If you have the ability to master this programming language, doors will open for you in the world of software development as a software engineer in the tech industry.
To learn all the different tech skills, additional vocational or computer trade schooling may be required. Website development is one of the careers you can land if you have coding skills.
The national salary average for a website developer is almost $70K per year. However, there are other jobs or side gigs available to tech-savvy people. These jobs include:
- Freelance writer
- Coding Teacher
- Software application developer
- Database administrator
- Computer programmer
- WordPress developer
Now that we have gone over jobs that are recession-resistant and possible side gigs that can help make ends meet, we will now go over the risky jobs during tough times. These jobs only do well when the economy is doing well.
Risky Recession Vulnerable Jobs
This list comprises some of the less recession-resistant jobs which may be more likely to be cut.
1. Employees Of The Arts
This topic has a wide range of careers within the entertainment industry, and with good reason. The theater has actors, dancers, costume dressers and designers, sewers, wig techniques and the back and onstage positions. Then there are the people who sell the tickets and ushers who take people to their seats. The list goes.
From Broadway, photoshoots, fashion shows, music concerts and more, these jobs rely heavily on tourism and the economy doing well enough for people to go on vacation. When the people stop coming, sales slip, leading to hours being cut and then finally shut down.
2. Travel Agents
Travel agents are another industry that relies heavily on tourism and people traveling.
3. Nail Technicians
Getting one’s nails done becomes expensive if one follows the rules of getting the nails filled every one to two weeks, and the nails themselves being replaced every month. This is before adding any extra decorative things to the nails.
Depending on where one is going and how often they go to the nail salon, one can be spending hundreds of dollars of month.
As a nail technician, this is a great business, but when a recession hits and customers can not afford to pay the same amount of money, the company takes a nosedive.
Cosmetologists and hairstylists have the same problem that nail stylists do. When the economy is good and the money is flowing, people are more than willing to try new hairstyles. However, when money is tight many will dye their hair at home and find a cheaper, simple haircut.
5. Retail Clothing Employees
Sales at clothing stores plummet when a recession hits. Many retail clothing stores end up closing permanently during tough times. A negative in the retail industry is involves the return policy. People will try to return clothes they have not worn to get some money back, and they are not willing to splurge on a new outfit when rent is due.
Unable to sell clothes at full price, many stores resort to having more sales than usual and intentionally selling their items for less than what the cost was to have them made. This lost revenue leads to employees’ hours being cut and even job loss.
When the economy is on fire, the drinks flow. When people can afford to go to the clubs, shows, parties, and fancy restaurants, bartenders do well.
People do not mind spending money on alcohol and giving big tips when the financial belt is not so tight. Bartenders can survive a recession; however, they may need a side gig or two to survive.
Staying Optimistic To Survive A Recession
All countries, no matter how well established, will have periods of recession. Before this pandemic, the previous recession was in 2008-2009. Economists report that the U.S.’s growth since 2009 had been one of the best bounce backs in this country’s history. Unfortunately, the 2008 recession collapse is said to be the worst economic dip since the Great Depression.
With the government shutting down to curb the spread of COVID-19, it is unknown how long this recession will last. We can only guess when the bounce back will begin and if or how well the U.S. economy will recover from this pandemic.
Hopefully, you’re in a financially stable position. If not, check out one of the recession-proof jobs listed above to give yourself the best chance of a quick recovery.
Image Credit: opolja / iStock