10 Recession Proof Jobs

Careers That Can Withstand an Economic Slowdown

Piggy bank illustrating recession
••• Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

From December 2007 through June 2009, the United States suffered through what economists termed "The Great Recession." Unemployment rose from 5% to 9.5% during that period and even reached 10% in the months following. The long-term unemployment rate—unemployment lasting for at least 27 weeks—was at an all-time high (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS Spotlight on Statistics: The Recession of 2007-2009. February 2012).

The Great Recession of 2008 was the 10th recession to strike this country since 1948. With 10 such events in about 60 years, these economic slowdowns, unfortunately, aren't all that unusual. With an abundance of horror stories of people losing their jobs and taking a long time to recover, you may be thinking it would be wise to look at recession-proof jobs.

History has shown us that while recessions typically impact some job sectors more than others, each one is different. An industry that remained unscathed during previous slowdowns can be decimated by the next one. No occupation is guaranteed to withstand an economic downturn, but some are more stable than others. Typically, jobs that are vital to the functioning of society fare best during difficult times.

The following careers are as close to recession-proof as possible. The need for people to work in these occupations typically remains steady even during economic downturns. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts they will have job growth that is at least as fast as the average for all occupations (increase 5% to 9%) between 2016 and 2026. The government agency predicts some of them will even have faster growth (an increase of 10% to 14%) or much faster growth (14% or more).

1. Registered Nurse

RNs, as registered nurses are commonly known, care for patients and provide emotional support to them and their families.

Required Education: Bachelor's, Associate, or Diploma in Nursing

Median Annual Salary (2018): $71,730

Number of People Employed (2016): 2.9 Million

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 15 percent (much faster than the average)

Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 438,100

2. Physical Therapist

Physical therapists, often called PTs, use a variety of modalities to restore their patients' mobility, relieve their pain, and prevent or limit further disabilities.

Required Education: Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree

Median Annual Salary (2018): $87,930

Number of People Employed (2016): 239,800

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 15% (much faster than the average)

Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 67,100

3. Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists, frequently referred to as OTs, help their patients regain their ability to perform tasks of daily living.

Required Education: Master's Degree or Doctorate in Occupational Therapy

Median Annual Salary (2018): $84,270

Number of People Employed (2016): 130,400

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 24% (much faster than the average)

Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 31,000

4. Special Agent (Detective)

Special agents, sometimes called detectives or criminal investigators, determine whether people have broken laws.

Required Education: H.S. Diploma plus experience as a police officer

Median Annual Salary (2017): $81,920

Number of People Employed (2016): 110,900

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 5% (as fast as the average)

Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 5,000

5. College Professor

College professors teach students various academic subjects at post-secondary institutions like community and four-year colleges.

Required Education: Doctorate in the area of expertise; Master's degree may suffice at some community colleges

Median Annual Salary (2018): $78,470

Number of People Employed (2016): 1.3 million

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 15% (much faster than the average)

Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 197,800

6. Teacher

Teachers provide elementary, middle, and high school students with instruction in a variety of subjects, including math, history, language arts, science, music, and visual arts.

Required Education: Bachelor's Degree in Education; A Master's Degree is required in some states

Median Annual Salary (2018): $55,470 (Kindergarten); $58,230 (Elementary School); $58,600 (Middle School); $60,320 (High School)

Number of People Employed (2016): 154,000 (Kindergarten); 1.4 million (Elementary School); 630,000 (Middle School); 1 million (High School)

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 8% (Kindergarten); 7% (Elementary School); 8% (Middle School); 8% (High School); All will grow as fast as the average

Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 12,300 (Kindergarten); 104,100 (Elementary School); 47,300 (Middle School); 76,800 (High School)

7. Funeral Director

Funeral directors coordinate all the details of funerals, including services and burials.

Required Education: Associate Degree in Funeral Service or Mortuary Science

Median Annual Salary (2018): $52,650

Number of People Employed (2016): 28,700

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 4% (a bit more slowly than the average)

Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 1,100

8. Accountant

Accountants prepare, examine, and check the accuracy of financial statements.

Required Education: Bachelor's Degree in Accounting

Median Annual Salary (2018): $70,500

Number of People Employed (2016): 1.4 million

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 10% (faster than the average)

Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 139,900

9. Computer Hardware Engineer

Computer hardware engineers manage the manufacture and installation of computer systems and servers.

Required Education: Bachelors Degree in Computer Engineering

Median Annual Salary (2018): $114,600

Number of People Employed (2016): 73,600

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 5% (as fast as the average)

Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 4,000

10. Software Developer

Software developers oversee the creation of programs that make computers, mobile devices, video game systems, and e-readers function.

Preferred Education: Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science

Median Annual Salary (2018): $110,000 (Systems Software Developers); $103,620 (Application Software Developers)

Number of People Employed (2016): 425,000 (Systems Software Developers); 831,300 (Application Software Developers)

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 11% (Systems Software Developer; faster than the average); 31% (Applications software Developer; much faster than the average)

Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 47,100 (Systems Software Developer); 255,400 (Applications Software Developer)

Other Factors to Consider

Although it is prudent to take employment outlook into account when choosing an occupation, it is unwise to disregard whether the career is also suitable for you. Learn about yourself by doing a thorough self assessment and gather facts about the occupation before making a final decision.