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Qualities of Recession Proof Jobs

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Do you know what the top ten recession proof jobs are? According to Laurence Shatkin, author of150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs, they are:

  1. Computer systems analysts
  2. Network systems and data communications analysts
  3. Network and computer systems administrators
  4. Registered nurses
  5. Teachers, postsecondary
  6. Physical therapists
  7. Physicians and surgeons
  8. Dental hygienists
  9. Pharmacists
  10. Medical and health services managers

Unfortunately, the list itself is useless. It’s useless because we’re already in a recession. The people who are looking for jobs can’t switch careers on a whim. The people who are working aren’t going to quit their jobs for a “recession proof” job. In that respect, they’re useless because you can’t act on it. Fortunately, you can learn something from it.

What can we learn from this list? They are all jobs that are in high demand in industries that are crucial to our lives. With the exception of teachers, the rest are in either the information technology/computer systems fields or health/human systems fields. Those jobs are in support of systems that we all need in our daily lives. If you’re sick and financially strapped, you cut other things before you stop going to a clinic. Most companies can’t survive without their computer systems, so people go before the servers.

Another lesson? These are all specialized careers. You can’t pull a random person off the street and expect them to competently perform any one of the ten jobs. When you have a limited supply of potential employees, the value of those employees goes up. If you’re in retail, you’re in trouble because anyone can fold shirts, flip burgers, or take an order at a register with minimal training.

If you’re at a point where you can pick a career, try to pick one that will always be in demand and requires a more specialized skill-set because it will help ensure your future employment.

{ 15 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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15 Responses to “Qualities of Recession Proof Jobs”

  1. Andrew says:

    The first three could easily be offshored.

  2. Patrick says:

    That’s not always true Andrew. Try coordinating with somebody in another country when you have computer systems in America. Only so much can be done by somebody overseas without needing actual people in America to do the remainder of the work.

  3. Andrew says:

    I never said it would be easy or painless, or even cost-effective, but managers “know” that you can offshore these types of jobs, so offshore they go.

  4. mapgirl says:

    @Andrew – *Some* of those jobs can be off-shored, but why would a small company based in the US off-shore their IT work? I have a friend who works for an intensely local company in the construction industry and his job would never move off-shore. There’s no value in it for them because they want their sysadmin onsite where their server is. His job may not pay as well as working for a top-notch consulting firm, but it’s pretty darned secure.

    If you work in government consulting, many of the IT jobs in that area will also never be off-shored either. As a relative in the software industry once told me, “There will always be DBAs in the US.”

    Using the same argument about off-shoring, you could say medicine will also move out of the US as medical malpractice insurance rates go up. It already drives OB-GYNs out of Maryland. After all, medical tourism is increasing in popularity.

    @Jim – I totally agree with you that the point of the list is to set up a career with advanced education/training to get into these fields.

  5. katy says:

    How about paralegals? I’m thinking of training in that and getting a certificate.

  6. thomas says:

    Very specialized list indeed. Of course, the salaries also vary greatly on that list. I guess if you are a teacher you are used to being on the low end of the scale.

  7. Sadly, even teachers aren’t immune to the recession. I know of at least 1 “tenured” teacher who was told her contract would not be renewed next year. And this was for a suburban school district (presumably “richer” than the urban school districts).

    As for whether or not a tech job is outsourceable…. I think the greater fear for sysadmins is not offshore Indian sysadmins. You want your sysadmin to be as physically close to your servers as possible. But the trend is to not manage your own server, and outsource that to cloud computing providers like Amazon Web Services. So a sysadmin may not have to fear his Indian counterpart, but he does have to fear Amazon’s staff of sysadmins.

  8. Henry says:

    Ha ha, 3 out of 10 are IT-related jobs. Looks like I have been working in the right field. :-)

  9. Scott says:

    I disagree with 2 & 3. Our company did some small layoffs in January and the IT department was the hardest hit, a.k.a. first to go. In a software company like ours, the network administrators are typically niche performers that are more easily replaced because they deal more with generic systems that several other more-well-rounded employees also understand (or can learn quickly). The people doing the real work will find a way to get their job done with or without IT help if they’re worth anything.

  10. Laurence says:

    I’m the author of the book and want to comment on the question of whether the three tech jobs are easily offshored. As part of my research, I consulted a list of easily offshored occupations that the U.S. Department of Labor included in a publication called Occupational Projections and Training Data, 2006-07 edition. Although several computer-related occupations were included on that list (and therefore were excluded from my book), these three were not listed there.

  11. jeff says:

    I am in the construction field. I specalize in new construction plumbing. is plumbing not an industry that everyone is reliant upon? I build new homes and just don’t understand how everyone has stopped building. Everyone needs a place to live. I do understand that there is still a lot of older homes and apartments that people can move into, but how can construction just stop?

  12. Andrew says:

    Construction can stop because there is a large inventory of empty houses for sale. Also, new household creation (people moving out of their parents’ homes, getting married, starting families, etc.) is at a historically low rate in the US. It’s simple supply and demand. Not _everybody_ needs a place to live. Some of us already have one.

  13. bailey says:

    Boston Globe reports today that there are not nearly enough job openings for nursing students graduating this year.

  14. kim says:

    The list is not useless. My husband has been layed off 5 months now. He has been studying computer books and videos. He has gone down to the local college and passed the computer technician certifications tests and now he is about to take the first microsoft engineer test. Through networking he has found a job in computers as soon as he passes this next test. He is 48 years old. Bye..Bye..commercial construction… No more rain days,job slowdowns,unpredictable weekly pay checks,union dues etc…etc……

    • Jim says:

      Your husband is commendable, it’s not easy to change careers and even harder when you’ve been doing a career for decades.


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