Five (Relatively) Recession-Proof Careers

Over 8.2 million jobs were lost during the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Almost two million construction jobs were lost, in addition to 2.1 million jobs lost in manufacturing. Other hard-hit industries include education and health services, financial activities, and the information sector.

According to the Department of Labor, job growth before the recession was centered in three primary areas: education, healthcare, and several industries connected to the housing market. The growth in housing led to growths in construction, real estate, mortgage financing, and retail furniture.

In addition, property values also rose during that time frame, and homeowners borrowed against the equity in their homes to purchase of automobiles and other consumer goods. In fact, it is estimated that 25 percent of pre-recession consumer expenditures were related to the housing market. But when the housing market collapsed, industries that initially benefited the most also bore the brunt of the recession.

However, other industries, which are generally considered to be recession-proof, also suffered as a result of the housing collapse. For example, education is generally thought of as a recession-proof career since there will always be children who need to be educated. However, a slow economy resulted in the closing and consolidating of schools -  and fewer schools require fewer teachers.

Government jobs have always been considered recession-proof as well, but budget cuts have resulted in fewer job opportunities for police and fire personnel. And the healthcare industry is a wildcard: some jobs will increase in demand, but others will experience losses.

In addition, information technology is responsible for both the increase and decline of jobs. For example, Bernard Condon and Paul Wiseman of “The Huffington Post” note that advances in computer power are phasing out careers ranging from travel agents to secretaries, while robots can perform manufacturing jobs faster and more efficiently than manufacturing workers. And online ordering eliminates the need tovisit brick and mortar retail stores.

According to Condon and Wiseman, employees who perform repetitive work that developers can write software programs to perform have the greatest chance of being replaced. This includes accountants verifying numbers, and office managers filing forms. And while utility workers were once envied for their job security, now power companies are installing computerized smart readers to record power usage rates.

In this environment, it’s hard to imagine that any job is actually recession-proof. However, these five jobs are safer than most, and should keep you ahead of the curve in the event of economic turmoil.

5 Interpreters And Translators – Mean Salary: $45,430

Interpreters translate spoken or sign language, and translators convert one written language to another. While the DOL predicts the average U.S. job will grow by 10.8 percent through 2022, demand for interpreters and translators will increase by 46 percent during the same time frame. These jobs are growing over four times the national average as a result of globalization and an influx of foreigners into the country. The most frequently translated languages are Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, and Russian. However, there is also a demand for Arabic and Middle Eastern languages, and also such Asian languages as Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

The DOL also reports that computers are used for translation, but as of yet, they cannot match the effectiveness of human translators. The educational requirement for interpreters and translators is usually a bachelor’s degree, but the most important requirement is to be fluent in English and at least one other language.

4 Medical And Clinical Lab Technicians – Mean Salary: $39,340

Medical and clinical lab technicians perform tests ordered by physicians and other healthcare providers. They collect bodily fluids and analyze them, usually under the supervision of a medical lab technologist or lab manager. Demand for medical and clinical lab technicians is projected to grow by 30 percent through 2022. An aging baby boomer population is expected to need more health services, which will also require more laboratory tests. In addition, an increase in Americans with access to health care will also increase the need for laboratory personnel.

3 Marketing Research Analysts – Mean Salary: $60,300

Market research analysts help companies understand which products and services will appeal to consumers. They collect and analyze data, and provide information regarding target audiences, pricing strategies, and product promotions. The DOL expects a 32 percent growth rate for marketing research analysts through 2022. Steep competition among companies will drive them to seek ways to better understand consumer habits and more effectively target products and services to increase sales.

The educational requirement for research analysts is generally a bachelor’s degree in market research, statistics, computer science, or math. However, a degree in business administration, communications, or the social sciences is also acceptable.

2 Physical Therapists – Mean Annual Wage $79,860

Physical therapists work with patients who are injured, recovering from an illness such as a stroke, or dealing with such conditions as arthritis or amputation, to help them improve mobility and prevent further pain. Physical therapists use hands-on therapy, equipment, and a variety of exercises and stretching maneuvers in their treatment regimens. Demand for physical therapists is projected to increase by 36 percent through 2022.

According to the DOL, an aging population is more likely to experience health conditions and injuries that will threaten their mobility and require rehabilitation services. Also, medical advances have resulted in more outpatient and orthopedic surgeries, which will also increase the number of patients requiring the services of physical therapists. The educational requirement for physical therapists is a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, which typically takes three years of study.

1 Physician Assistants – Mean Annual Wage $90,930

Physician assistants work under the direction of physicians or surgeons. They conduct physical examinations, order and analyze tests, and perform diagnoses. They also provide such treatments as setting bones and immunizing patients, in addition to prescribing medications. Through 2022, the DOL anticipates a 38 percent job growth rate for physician assistants.

As with the other fast-growing medical careers, an increase in the senior population and the growing number of people with access to health care will increase the need for diagnoses and treatments. Also, physician assistants can provide many of the same duties as doctors – but at a lower salary.

More in Job & Salaries