13 Recession-Proof Jobs

Shot of a nurse caring for a senior patient in a retirement home.
Dean Mitchell / Getty Images

In the current economic climate, it’s not unusual to wonder whether a job is safe from potential layoffs or downsizing. Companies in the tech and banking sector, including Amazon, Salesforce and Goldman Sachs, have announced thousands of cuts to their workforces. The country may see more layoffs as economic worries compound and the threat of a recession looms large.

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Jobs That Survive a Recession

Those who value job security highly are smart to look into relatively recession-proof occupations, such as public safety, education, accounting and finance, health care and skilled trades. While no company can guarantee they won’t slash their workforce, working in specific roles can reduce the risk, even during economic uncertainty.

1. Public Safety Officer

  • Average salary: $50,000 per year

No matter what’s in store for the economy, one thing is guaranteed: governments always need workers who ensure the general welfare of the public, such as police officers and firefighters. It’s unlikely that city, state or federal governments will put the lives of their constituents on the line by eliminating positions in the public safety domain.

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2. Teacher

  • Average salary: $27,500 per year

All children must attend school, so job seekers can count on the continued need for teachers in both public and private schools. University education tends to be recession-proof as well, so the need for undergraduate and graduate school professors typically remains steady. 

3. Accountant

  • Average salary: $60,700 per year

The need for accounting professionals doesn’t go away during a recession. Companies and individuals need the support of a qualified professional to help them file their yearly tax returns and prepare their financial statements. 

4. Registered Nurse

  • Average salary: $93,500 per year

Healthcare is a constant need. Nurses assist with numerous tasks, including physical examinations and treatment for illnesses. Registered nurses holding positions at hospitals, doctor’s offices and other areas of healthcare are likely to retain their roles no matter what direction the economy takes.

5. Plumber

  • Average salary: $56,300 per year

Individuals who specialize in trades, like plumbers or electricians, are generally safe from recession layoffs, since the need for their services doesn’t diminish. Even in times of economic uncertainty, homeowners and businesses need plumbers to keep the water supply systems running.

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6. Grocery Store Manager

  • Average salary: $71,300 per year

During a recession, consumers usually cut their spending on non-essentials, such as dining out. Instead, they’ll make more trips to the grocery store and cook at home. As a result, grocery store managers and employees typically fare well during a recession.

7. Psychologist

  • Average salary: $96,900 per year

Sometimes, recessions can adversely impact an individual’s mental health, especially if they lose their jobs or fall on hard financial times. Psychologists are there to ease the burden on those suffering from anxiety or depression, among other things. 

8. Lawyer

  • Average salary: $99,500 per year

While some might not consider the law a remarkably recession-proof industry, lawyers in certain practices remain in demand, even during tough economic times. Specifically, legal professionals who practice bankruptcy, criminal and personal injury law are less likely to see much of a dip in need for their services. Individuals in supporting roles at these law firms are also less susceptible to layoffs.

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9. Substance Abuse Counselor

  • Average salary: $51,700 per year

Substance abuse counselors assist patients in overcoming addictions to alcohol or drugs. During challenging periods like a recession, it’s not uncommon for individuals to fall into bad habits they need help recovering from. The COVID-19 pandemic increased alcohol-related deaths by over 25%, for example.

10. Utility Worker

  • Average salary: $60,600 per year

Both public and private entities need utility workers to keep the lights on, the gas pumping and the water flowing. Individuals working in utilities should have little worry about their roles in a recession.

11. Train Conductor

  • Average salary: $50,900 per year

Transportation workers, including train conductors, truck drivers and couriers, ensure that people and businesses have goods where they need them at all times. These essential workers are key players in the supply chain and are unlikely to lose their jobs in a recession.

12. Information Technology Consultant

  • Average salary: $87,300 per year

Businesses and individuals rely on computers and the internet for their day-to-day operations. Computers and information technology is one of the fastest-growing fields currently and is likely to only get bigger in the future.

13. Statistician

  • Average salary: $94,700 per year

Statisticians, such as data analysts and mathematicians, also fare well during a recession, since they help executives make data-driven decisions. Business managers can use their insights to understand customer behavior or identify expense trends, both of which are essential to business operations.

Final Take

While no one can predict the future, obtaining a job in a specific sector reduces the risk of layoffs during a recession. Individuals with the appropriate skill sets can find roles in these fields to minimize their chances of losing a job.

FAQ

The thought of losing your job during a recession can be unsettling, but having a secure job helps alleviate those fears. Here are the answers to some common questions about which careers fare well during a recession.
  • What job is best during a recession?
    • The best job for a recession is one that provides an essential service that society relies on. Jobs in healthcare, utilities, education and transportation tend to stay secure through a recession.
  • What jobs are least recession-proof?
    • Because people tend to cut back on non-necessities during difficult financial times, jobs in hospitality, travel and real estate are some of the least recession-proof.
  • What thrives during a recession?
    • Industries that tend to thrive in a recession include pharmaceuticals, utilities, transportation and essential retailers.
  • What jobs survived the 2008 recession?
    • Jobs in health care, government and education fared well during the 2008 recession.

Salary information is sourced from Indeed and is accurate as of Jan. 16, 2023.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

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About the Author

Virginia is a full-time writer in the business sector, with over 20 years of experience in accounting and finance. She writes on numerous subjects, including business management, finance, investing and international business.
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