11 Jobs That Will Probably Survive the Next Recession

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the height of the Great Recession
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the height of the Great Recession | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The mere mention of the word “recession” strikes fear in the hearts of many. Millennials, many of whom came of age during the Great Recession, are particularly susceptible and fearful. Stock traders, real estate agents, factory workers — all have a lot to lose when the economy takes a tumble. And as scary as it may be, the next recession is always right around the corner.
In fact, we’re probably due for another one fairly soon. There’s only a certain amount that policymakers can do to stave a recession off: Sooner or later, the cyclical nature of the economy takes over.
There are a number of things you can do to insulate yourself from the effects of a recession. Diversify your income, save more money, and keeping your debt at manageable levels are a good way to start. But when it comes to your job? You may be at risk of losing it. Some jobs are put on the chopping block right away in order to save employers money. If you have one, you might find that you’re in trouble.
But some jobs are integral. We can’t just fire everybody — they’re too important to the economy and day-to-day upkeep of the country to simply cut loose. These jobs are, in a sense, recession-proof. A new report from Glassdoor named 11 of them.
“This report features a selection of 11 jobs, in no particular order, that have been identified by Glassdoor’s Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain as being safer during a recession,” Glassdoor said of its methodology. “These jobs are in many cases connected to industries which have been less correlated with business cycle fluctuations, such as a recession.”
“Historically, there are industries and occupations that have been less correlated to business cycle fluctuations, like recessions, than others,” said Dr. Chamberlain. He continued:

If you are looking to reduce the risk of losing your job during times of a recession, we know that in the past jobs in healthcare, education and utilities have not suffered as many job losses as in other fields during a down cycle. Also, if you have a union job and / or work in government, we know these positions can be cushioned from the slings and arrows of economic variation.

In no particular order, here are Glassdoor’s picks for jobs that will survive the next recession.

1. Teachers

A teacher leading a class
A teacher leading a class | iStock.com

We’re always going to need teachers, and schools don’t let out just because the economy takes a turn for the worse. But there are other protections for teachers as well. “Teachers in public school systems are often members of labor unions, which can make their positions more difficult to layoff,” Glassdoor’s report said.

2. Funeral directors

Pallbearers carry the coffin of an Australian cricket legend during a funeral
Pallbearers carry the coffin of an Australian cricket legend during a funeral | Daniel Munoz – Pool/Getty Images

As morbid as it may be, people are always going to be dying. And somebody needs to be there to help with the arrangements. Death is a constant, even if we don’t like to think about it. It’s also a big business, with the average funeral costing up to $10,000. Getting into the funeral industry takes a bit of preparation, however.
“A high school diploma and a postsecondary degree in funeral studies, like an associate degree in funeral service education, are usually necessary educational requirements for this job,” the report reads. “In addition, it’s often necessary to pass state licensing exams in order to be certified as a funeral director.”

3. Physician’s assistants

Surgical tools prepped for use
Surgical tools prepped for use | iStock.com

A physician’s assistant is different from a doctor and a nurse, but still requires a lot of education. “A bachelor’s degree with the completion of specific prerequisites is necessary in order to apply to a Physician’s Assistant graduate program,” Glassdoor’s team said. “Physician Assistant graduate programs can take around two years to complete, and can be comparable to an abbreviated medical school. Certain programs may require hands-on experience, and you must have state licensing in order to be able to practice.”

Why are these safe jobs? People will always need health care. It’s as simple as that.

4. Professors

An NYU professor leads a class
An NYU professor leads a class | John Moore/Getty Images

Like teachers, professors have some insulation. Tenure, mostly. It’s not easy to become a professor, but once you’re in, it’s usually pretty difficult to get rid of you.

5. Accountants

An accountant hard at work
An accountant hard at work | iStock.com

As Glassdoor’s report said, “Benjamin Franklin once famously stated: ‘ … In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.’ Regardless of the economic climate, there will always be accountants needed during tax season.”

If you can get your degree and license, a career as an accountant can be safe and lucrative.

6. Auditors

A man making sure things are running efficiently
A man making sure things are running efficiently | iStock.com

Somebody has to make sure waste and corruption aren’t ruling the roost. For that reason, we’ll always need auditors in both the private and public sectors. You’ll often need a master’s degree and some additional certifications on top of it.

7. Nurses

A nurse caring for an older man
Health care professional | iStock.com

Like physician’s assistants, nurses are always going to be required to care for people. “Health care needs are still necessary even in an unsettled economy. And particularly with the aging baby boomer population, the demand for nurses is likely to remain high,” the report said.

8. Utility workers

A utility worker repairs a power line
A utility worker repairs a power line | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The infrastructure needs to keep functioning if the country wants to continue functioning. Workers are needed to make sure that happens. “Even in a recession, utility workers are part of the basic foundations for how society operates,” the report said. “Behind every basic modern convenience is someone working behind the scenes to make it happen and keep it running, even if the economy is less than promising.”

9. Actuaries

A smorgasbord of growth and business icons
A smorgasbord of growth and business icons | iStock.com

What the hell is an actuary? It’s someone who analyzes risk, and the financial consequences of it. It’s complicated, needless to say, and typically requires a high degree of education. But they’re integral to organizations, and really shine during tough economic situations.

“Why safer during a recession: In a time of economic risk, the use of an actuary is particularly appealing as the nature of their job is to help companies make decisions in order to minimize risk. When evaluating areas of a business to trim, actuaries can be some of the most attractive people to employ.”

10. Teacher’s aides

A teacher's aide assists in the classroom
Child care worker | iStock.com

We need teachers, and teachers need help. That’s why teacher’s aides are at least somewhat indispensable. Though not quite a teacher, teacher’s aides benefit from some insulation during economic downturns.

11. Nursing aides

A nurse taking notes at a facility that cares for elderly people with dementia
A nurse taking notes at a facility that cares for elderly people with dementia | Carsten Koall/Getty Images

Teachers need aides, and so do nurses. “As a nursing aide, there are many avenues for employment, like hospitals, nursing homes, home care, etc. When the economy turns sour, there will still be a need for health care services especially with an aging population,” Glassdoor’s report said.

If you truly want to ride out the next recession, it looks like health care, education, and management are the places to be.

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