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Five Recession Proof Careers for Graduates

This month, hundreds of thousands of job seekers with newly minted diplomas will be hitting the market. Previously, I covered jobs for recent grads with good prospects and high pay. Even though I agree that an economic slump will not affect the under-30 set’s job prospects, here is a look at five career fields that will still be hiring, even in the toughest of times.


The nation still faces widespread teacher shortages as populations swell and more teachers reach retirement. The best prospects are in math, science, and special education, and in fast-growing states like Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, and Texas, but well-qualified applicants should be able to find teaching positions anywhere.

Health Care

With increasing demand from aging baby boomers and a perennial shortage of qualified applicants, health care continues to top the lists both of recession proof careers, and the highest paying careers. Unlike the best parking spots at the hospital, the good career prospects aren’t just reserved for docs. Nurses, physicians’ assistants, pharmacists, and various medical technicians also stand to do well.

Public Safety and Security

Crime, fires, and medical emergencies don’t slow down with the economy. And, as the population grows, cities and towns need more police officers, fire fighters, and EMTs to protect them. While initial competition to become a police officer or fire fighter can be tough, once you’re in you will enjoy great job security.

Environmental Science

Being “green” may be trendy, but reducing our environmental impact is also critical for our future. Enter environmental scientists, who do everything from monitor pollution to design eco-friendly technologies. Career prospects for environmental scientists are expected to dramatically outpace most fields over the next ten years.

Federal Government

If you want some real job security, work for Uncle Sam. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you are 75 % less likely to get laid off from a government job than by a private employer. Opportunities abound for twentysomethings in a variety of divisions, and some of them are pretty cool. For example, you could become an FBI Agent, travel abroad with the State Department, or study killer strains with the CDC.

Do you work in an another industry that seems to be recession proof?

Published or updated on May 20, 2008

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


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  1. Paul says:


    I was doing high yield checking account research and stumbled on this site. I’m glad you found a career with a stress level and flexibility you enjoy, but please consider the economy as a whole when you make these recommendations.

    Trucking is only recession proof if you’re hauling recession proof goods – ie food staples and household staples. If manufacturing declines (which it has, slightly) and purchasing declines (which it has, dramatically) trucking will surely feel the some portion of the brunt of the downturn. Coupled with higher fuel costs and thinner margins, trucks are going to be filled heavier, drive slower and deal with the economics of a regressing economy.

    Anyway, I don’t know who reads this site, but I hope they’re apt at keeping the full picture in mind.

  2. I totally agree with you David on the job security aspect of your list. (I have a career choice to add to it though, but I will get to that in a minute)

    The money for some of those I wouldn’t consider too good for the level of stress required for the job though.

    (Teacher and Police) Not to mention how complex the issues with those two jobs will continue to become.

    This is what I mean

    Teachers – They are tied with their hands behind their backs with a passion to educate but first having task of achieving an orderly classroom conducive to a learning environment with unruly kids who’s parents will take the kids side no matter what.

    All the while. Government restrictions on methods and mandatory testing. Now either the teacher looks bad, or the school, so kids are passed without learning and a real teacher will be eaten up inside the whole while.

    They will never get paid enough for that so there WILL definitely always be jobs.

    The Police officer – They have to deal with clowns that have picked up from their parents that officers are not to be respected and are a crooked.

    The youth that they deal with see police portrayed negatively in music and on tv for the most part so they have a nasty attitude when encountering the police. They provoke the police and give reasons for suspicion immediately most times. As soon as the police responds to this, the situation escalates and drama occurs. Media, parents, organizations almost always make the cop out to be the villain immediately and do fact finding later. (Usually after fact finding its never said how ignorant the so called victim acted, just the police reacted inappropriately.)

    Now if the police do their jobs in the community people going cry and if they don’t they going to cry. I guarantee that there are many police who just sit in the shade and ride the clock because it’s getting to be a no win situation dealing with the citizens it’s said but it’s true. People are just plain ridiculous. Trumped up racism charges and over sensitivity to profiling. (while is necessary to a certain extent)

    They will never get paid enough for what they do. So there will always be those job available too. I don’t want it.

    There is a job with a secure future and a tolerable amount of stress for the right person that didn’t make your list. It pays well and has good benefits for the right person. It too, is not for everybody but not for reasons as complex the ones for the jobs above. It’s recession proof in any economy.

    Travel the country, with no boss hoovering over your shoulders just a set of bills and a logbook riding on 18 wheels. That’s right.

    Becoming a truck driver is a very rewarding career for those adventurous, self reliant types who love to drive or travel. It’s a school in motion if you let it be.

    Starting off you will make at least $35,000 with a good driving record. After a year as a truck driver $45,000 is easy. The 3rd year a driver can easily earn $55,000 or more all depends on the company and driving record. There are opportunities to give yourself pay raises of $10,000 or more per year to do that all you do is specialize (haul heavy equipment, cattle, chemicals, household(moving people),etc.)

    example. A friend of mind made almost $75,000 last year hauling new trucks to dealerships. Yes company driver.

    So trucking is yet another to add to your list man, just thought I would throw my 2 cents in.

    Oh, this is a great website by the way, hope you don’t mind me linking to it.

  3. Speak Your Mind