What jobs can survive a recession?

A Black woman wearing business clothes and looking concerned holds a phone to her ear.

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In times of economic decline, we would all like to protect our families and incomes by looking for the right line of work. 

Not all careers are equally protected against an economic recession’s trials. Fortunately, recession-proof jobs are surprisingly diverse, ranging across such fields as computer services, healthcare, and utilities.

Read on for advice on what interesting and meaningful careers you can find among traditionally recession-proof jobs, how much they pay, and how to get started.

15 top recession-proof jobs

A good list needs a solid methodology. We chose jobs that met the following requirements:

  • Above-average salary
  • Education beyond a bachelor’s degree not typically required
  • Potential for professional growth after more experience, education, or training

Read on for our alphabetized list of the top fifteen recession-proof jobs right now. Keep in mind that some careers may require returning to school. Check out our guide to getting a job during a recession for tips on how to leverage your strengths in difficult times.

1. Accountant

Median salary: $77,250

Accountants prepare and maintain different kinds of financial documents, such as balance sheets, tax returns, and cash flow statements. 

Becoming an accountant typically requires a bachelor’s in business or accounting degree and takes three to four years. Some employers prefer accountants who hold Certified Public Accountant certification.

Accounting is a relatively safe line of work in difficult economic times. Individuals and businesses always need accountants to organize their financial records and help file their taxes regardless of the economic climate.

2. Auto mechanic/technician

Median salary: $46,880 

Auto mechanics (or technicians) inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks. To become an auto mechanic you typically need to attend a trade school and then seek industry certification.

Automotive service work can be considered recession-proof because most people rely on cars for transport. When people have car problems they usually call upon a professional mechanic to fix them rather than attempting repairs themselves.

3. Electrician

Median salary: $60,040

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power structures, such as lighting and home electrical systems.

To become an electrician, you typically need a high school diploma. You must also complete a four- to five-year apprenticeship, which you can arrange through a trade school.

Electricians’ services are always needed to maintain the electrical power structures our society relies upon, no matter the economic conditions.

4. Financial analyst

Median salary: $81,410

Financial analysts provide advice to businesses and individuals on how to invest their money profitably. To become a financial analyst, you typically need at least a bachelor’s in business, generally with a focus on financial analysis.

Financial analysts are safe in a recession because many people rely on their guidance regardless of economic conditions. 

During a recession, both businesses and individuals turn to financial analysts for guidance on how to invest safely and effectively.


SEE: What does a financial advisor do?


5. Funeral service worker

Median salary: $58,900

Funeral service workers oversee the tasks and duties involved in funerals. These professionals typically work at funeral homes or mortuaries and hold a two-year associate degree in funeral service or mortuary science, along with state licensure.

People will always need these professionals to properly organize funerals that honor their loved ones, even during a recession.

6. IT manager

Median salary: $159,010

IT managers plan, direct, and oversee the technological development of organizations, including network security, online operations, and IT budgets. 

Typically, these managers need at least a bachelor-level information technology degree or a related computer science degree. 

Since businesses rely on their IT infrastructure functioning properly, IT management is a recession-proof career path. Even in times of economic difficulty, nearly all organizations need professionals trained to maintain and protect the computer and network systems they use.

7. Medical and health services manager

Median salary: $101,340

Medical and health services managers plan, direct, and oversee all administrative and business-related activities of healthcare providers. They often work in hospitals, inpatient clinics, and assisted living facilities. 

They typically hold at least a bachelor’s or MBA in healthcare management.

Medical and health services facilities must continue running and functioning properly in times of economic boon and recession alike as an essential service. Their operation requires trained medical and health services managers.

8. Occupational therapy assistant

Median salary: $61,520 

Occupational therapy assistants help patients with recovery and rehabilitation from illness and injury while helping them develop independent living and coping skills post-recovery.

 To become an occupational therapy assistant, you typically can go to a trade school to get an associate in occupational therapy assistance.

People who have suffered accidents or live with chronic illness need help getting back on their feet, making occupational therapy a recession-proof career path.

9. Operations research analyst

Median salary: $82,360

Operations research analysts use mathematics and logic to help organizations problem-solve and develop long-term strategies. 

They typically hold at least a bachelor’s in operations research, applied mathematics, or similar majors.

Operations research analysts’ specialized skills in applied mathematics make them useful to organizations regardless of economic conditions. Their skills become even more valuable in a recession because of how they can help companies mitigate organizational problems.

10. Personal financial advisor

Median salary: $94,170

Personal financial advisors provide guidance to individuals for managing their money and planning out their financial future. 

Typically, this career path requires at least a bachelor’s in business, with a concentration in financial management. These professionals typically either work in the financial services industry or are self-employed.

In times of economic decline, personal financial advisors may see increased business as people access their help to avoid financial problems and budget more effectively.

11. Radiologic technologist/technician

Median salary: $61,370

Radiologic technicians (or technologists) specialize in operating x-ray and computed tomography machinery, creating medical imaging used by physicians to create treatment plans. To become a radiologic technician, you typically need an associate degree in radiologic technology from a trade school, community college, or four-year institution.

Medical imaging professionals are specialized healthcare workers who fill an essential role. Regardless of economic conditions, hospitals and clinics need these professionals to operate complex medical imaging equipment.

12. Registered nurse

Median salary: $77,600

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, assist physicians in their duties, and educate the public on health and medical issues. 

To work as an RN, you typically need at least a bachelor’s, though it is possible to take alternate routes to licensure with only an associate degree or postsecondary diploma.

RNs, though not as highly trained as nurse practitioners, are indispensable healthcare providers regardless of the economic climate.

13. Respiratory therapist

Median salary: $61,830

Respiratory therapists help people recover from and manage the symptoms lung and respiratory system illnesses. They often operate machinery such as ventilators and heated humidifiers. 

To become a respiratory therapist, you need at least an associate degree in respiratory therapy, which takes two to three years to earn.

As with many healthcare workers, demand for respiratory therapists remains steady even during times of economic decline. These specialized workers provide essential therapy for many people.

14. Social worker

Median salary: $50,390

Social workers help people overcome barriers to living full lives. They often work in nonprofit and government agencies, clinics, and hospitals. 

To become a social worker, you typically need a bachelor’s in social work, psychology, or public health and to complete supervised clinical hours or an internship.

Times of economic difficulty make social services especially important. People may call upon social workers for help in times of financial crisis.

15. Software engineer/developer

Median salary: $110,140 

Software engineers and developers design, build, and test software applications for computers, directing teams of programmers coding below them. 

To work as a software engineer, you typically need a bachelor’s in computer science or a software engineering degree.

Since individuals and organizations use software daily, software engineering is an essential, recession-proof career path. Software engineers’ work involves a higher level of expertise and computer science knowledge than programmers or web developers.

Salary data is drawn from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of Aug. 11, 2022. 

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