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Recession-Proof Jobs in US

Updated on January 7, 2020

Economic recessions are infrequent but it is very likely that you will go through at least one recession during your lifetime. So, when you choose your profession it’s important to take into consideration the worst-case scenario. In fact, the media has already spread seeds of concern, implying that we might be due for a real estate recession anytime soon. So, in this article, we will explore a few recession-proof jobs that may be in high demand even if the economy is in free fall.

Jobs That Thrived During the Great Depression

With the unemployment rate at a record high, the government got involved in the creation of jobs. Between 1929 and 1939, billions of dollars had been spent to provide public service jobs to the unemployed. Millions have benefited from the work relief programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps and The Works Progress Administration.

But when everything was grim and dull, people needed something to help them forget about their daily sorrows. And so, during the Great Depression, the entertainment industry experienced a boom like no other industry. Those who had jobs in the movie industry were quite in a safe spot. Americans went to the movies every week and movie theaters managed to stay profitable with the introduction of popcorn.

Other jobs that were doing well during the recession were:

  • Jobs in agriculture

  • Train conductors

  • Construction workers

  • Factory workers

  • Military jobs

  • Doctors and nurses

  • Lawyers

  • Teachers

Since then, the division of labor has changed the job market completely and jobs we once deemed secure may completely disappear in the future due to the advancements in artificial intelligence, robotics, and technology.

Recession-Proof Career Paths

Looking at all the progress achieved in so many fields, but especially in the applications of artificial intelligence, you may wonder if humans would still be needed in the future or completely replaced by robots. We don’t know what the future holds, for sure. But our advice, especially for teenagers, is to pick a safe career that can provide a steady income in any economic environment.


If you’re curious about how different appliances work and how to fix them when they break, then an engineering degree will keep you busy even in a recession. Besides, when money is tight, people would rather repair everything that breaks than buy new products. The highest salaries are reserved for computer engineers. Chemical engineers, electrical engineers and those specialized in geology and mining are also among the high-earners. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, the median annual salary of engineers is $91,010.


A good school district and a large university are among the key features of a recession-proof city. With proper education, many can find a way out of poverty. So, if you like children and envision yourself in front of a classroom, a career as a teacher may bring you a lot of satisfaction. There is a $40,000 gap between the best-paid teachers and those with the smallest salaries. The average salary for teachers this year is $61,730. Nevertheless, you may be tempted to pursue a career in higher education and become a university professor. The average salary in most colleges is around $100,000 per year. According to the National Education Association, the starting salary for a teacher last year was $39,249.

Health Professionals

Whether the economy is up or down, we all have to take care of our health. In most metropolitan areas, healthcare providers are among the largest employers. But not only that. The salaries in the medical sector are impressive. Most physicians make six-figure salaries per year. In fact, according to Glassdoor[dot]com, physicians had a base salary of $195,842 last year. Pharmacists are also well-paid, with a base salary of $127,120. What about dentistry? In 2018, there were 61 dentists for every 100,000 people, but some states have a shortage of dentists so you should see in this situation a huge opportunity. Optometrists also have a stable career, and so do physical therapists and chiropractors.

Debt Collectors

Well, when times are tough, lenders are even more determined to recover as much money as possible from their debtors. But debt collectors don’t work only on behalf of banks. They also collect utility bills, medical bills, and business debt. Currently, debt collectors may not have huge salaries, but they are motivated by commissions, which at the moment are around 12%. Besides, you don’t need a college degree to get employed at a collection agency, but you do need good negotiation skills. The average salary is $31,880, according to the recruiting company Glassdoor.


During an economic recession, an increase in the crime rate is to be expected. So, more offenders will generate more lawsuits, which, for lawyers, isn’t necessarily something bad. But besides this, there will be more foreclosures, more filings for bankruptcy and many other legal issues. Last year, lawyers earned on average $120,910. However, all legal careers can be considered recession-proof jobs.

Military Careers

The jobs provided by the government, especially those related to national security, should be considered safe and secure. The benefits of a military career are well known. And there’s no need to remind you about the possibility to retire early, after only 20 years of service. If you feel called to serve your country, don’t hesitate to explore what the US Army has in store for you. The salary for the first year is about $21,300 for those who don’t have a college degree.

Just because an economic recession is looming doesn’t mean we should all become physicians. Besides, you may not feel a special calling to serve people from that position. Not everybody has what it takes to be a good doctor. Most of the time, we end up choosing our careers with our heart first, without thinking about the financial aspects. After all, this common adage seems to prevail: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” And because you will have to work even in economic distress, when you’re truly passionate about your job, you will find creative ways to make a living out of it, for sure.


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