Top 25 Careers to Pursue in a Recession

Updated: May 18, 2009

If you want to recession-proof your career, the key is to focus on work that continues even when most people don't have disposable income to spend. So while consumers may not hit the mall as often, you can guarantee that people will continue to get sick, pay taxes and use energy. These are just a few of the careers and industries that can be expected to thrive in a down economy.

  1. Health Care: People will always get sick — sometimes even more so when they don't have the insurance or money to take preventative measures or eat healthy food.
  2. Energy: Although consumers are likely to cut back, they're not going to stop using energy. In fact, this industry may grow, as companies look for more efficient ways to deliver using less energy.
  3. Education: No matter how dire the economy is, there are always jobs for teachers. Kids will still go to school, and many out-of-work adults may decide to continue their education.
  4. Utilities: Just like the energy sector, it's safe to assume that people are not going to stop lighting their homes. So utility administration, maintenance and other related jobs should remain intact.
  5. International Business: Even when the economy is doing poorly in the U.S., other countries may be doing well. So if you are involved in international business, you can expect your career to stay safe.
  6. Public Safety: Police layoffs are very rare, especially at a time where public safety is threatened by desperate criminals. A career in public safety is almost guaranteed to be secure.
  7. Funerals: Just like people won't stop getting sick, they'll continue to die as well, so as morbid as it is, morticians will always have customers.
  8. Accounting: Death and taxes are a sure thing. In a recession, people and companies are likely to get desperate for more deductions and a hard look at their books.
  9. Federal Government: Most federal-government jobs end only when workers retire. Additionally, government services tend to step up in times of recession, so your chances of getting and keeping a government job are good.
  10. Pharmaceuticals: As long as doctors prescribe them, people are still going to take drugs. So whether you're behind the pharmacy counter or in the lab, you can rest easy.
  11. Sales: As a general rule, anyone who is a source of income for a company will be safe, so salespeople — especially in recession-proof industries — have little to worry about.
  12. Military: The military is always hiring, especially during wartime. Also, consider that most of your living expenses are covered, so cost-of-living expenses are not really a concern.
  13. Gambling: When times get tough, people seek an outlet. One of those outlets is gambling, especially because it offers a chance to turn financial troubles around.
  14. Alcohol: Alcohol is another outlet for troubled times, so distributors and manufacturers in this industry will continue to thrive.
  15. Politics: Even in a recession, public officials are still around earning tidy sums, which are often tied to the cost of living.
  16. Skilled Services: Hair will always grow, and drains will always clog, so you can expect steady work in skilled services like plumbing and hairstyling.
  17. Debt Management: Recessions mean crunch time for debtors, and they're sure to need some guidance.
  18. Consulting: Recessions are crunch times for companies as well, and they're likely to bring in consultants for advice on efficiency and squeezing the most out of their resources.
  19. Bankruptcy Law: It's sad, but true: As companies and individuals go bankrupt, they'll need a lawyer to help them work through it all.
  20. Government Contracting: Despite money troubles, roads must be maintained and schools must be built. Contract your work out for government functions for job security.
  21. Food: People need food to survive, and it's not likely that anyone is going to just stop eating — no matter how bad the economy gets.
  22. Beauty, Health and Erotic Services: Regardless of a recession, people who enjoy being pampered will seldom give up the simple pleasures in life.
  23. Debt Collection: As budgets get squeezed, people will fall behind on payments, and companies will look to debt collectors to recoup their costs.
  24. Ultraluxury Items: If you're in a business that caters to the ultrarich, you can expect to be safe, as this type of consumer is likely to have measures in place to weather the recession.
  25. Multifaceted Careers: If you don't put all of your eggs in one basket, you should be able to ride out a recession by relying on secondary income. So if you juggle a career that involves a regular job, plus other sources like online income, freelancing and investing, numerous failures have to happen before you're really in trouble.

Although today's job market may be bleak, there are some bright spots if you know where to look. While recessions hit some sectors hard, others go on like clockwork — or even experience growth. So whether you're hunting for a job or still feeling ostensibly secure, now is a good time to evaluate your options and consider one of the aforementioned recession-proof careers.