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12 Recession-Proof Jobs in 2024

You’ve probably heard rumblings that the U.S. economy could be headed for a recession. Or maybe you’ve seen news headlines about companies laying people off. Whatever the case, you’re a little worried about your job and asking yourself, Is my job recession proof?

First off: No job is 100% recession proof. (Well, maybe the Supreme Court because justices have lifetime appointments.) But here’s the thing—I don’t want you to spend your time worrying about things you can’t control. And in the off chance you do get laid off, that doesn’t mean you’re going to lose everything.

You’re going to be okay.

That said, I’m going to walk you through some jobs that tend to do better during recessions.

What Is a Recession-Proof Job?

Simply put: A recession-proof job helps fill an essential need that isn’t affected by how good or bad the economy is doing. Recession-proof businesses keep rolling along whether the economy is booming or busting. For instance, people are always going to need things like food and medical care, right? So people working in these need-based industries (like grocery stores or hospitals) have a bit of job security.

Curious about other stable industries? Here’s my list of 12 recession-proof jobs for 2024.

1. Health Care Jobs

It’s no surprise that jobs related to the medical profession are number one, right? Recession or not, people will always need medical care. The Great Recession had very little impact on health care jobs compared to the rest of the economy, which experienced 10% unemployment.1 The list of health care jobs could run a mile long, but here are a few common positions to get started:

  • Doctor
  • Nurse
  • Physical therapist
  • Dentist
  • Dental hygienist
  • Anesthesiologist
  • Radiologist
  • Lab technician
  • Home health care aid
  • Pharmacist

No matter the state of the economy, medical professionals are in high demand. In fact, the health care industry is expected to add about 2 million new jobs by 2031.2

2. Specialized Care Jobs

Specialized care falls under the umbrella of health care jobs—so yes, these jobs are recession proof. Here are some examples of specialized care jobs:

  • Therapist
  • Counselor
  • Mental health professional
  • Social worker
  • Elder care specialist

3. Public Safety Jobs

When you call 911, you really need someone to pick up the line. (Getting sent to voicemail would be a disaster.) Since public safety is a necessity, jobs related to that are usually pretty recession proof. These jobs include:

  • Police officer
  • Firefighter
  • Paramedic
  • Prison guard
  • Security guard
  • Cybersecurity specialist

4. Public Utility Jobs

Ever experienced a blackout? Our normal routines basically stop without electricity. But even if our economy experiences a blackout, these public utility service jobs will be safe:

  • Water treatment plant operator
  • Civil engineer
  • Septic tank servicer
  • Power plant tech
  • Lineman
  • Sewer maintenance worker
  • Garbage collector

5. Repair Service Jobs

Your daughter wanted to see if Barbie could swim in the toilet (she can’t), and now you’ve got a mess on your hands that only a plumber can fix. Stuff breaking is just part of life. And no matter your financial situation, you have to get it fixed. Here are some repair service jobs that aren’t affected by recessions (and most of these jobs don’t require a four-year degree):

  • Auto mechanic
  • Electrician
  • Plumber
  • HVAC technician
  • Locksmith
  • Computer repair technician

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6. Federal Government Jobs

You’ve probably heard jokes about getting a cushy government job with a pension. And those jokes aren’t far off. A federal government job is about as secure as they come (as long as it’s not an elected position). In fact, the U.S. government sometimes boosts its hiring to try to kick-start the economy during a recession. Here are some common government jobs:

  • Air traffic controller
  • IRS accountant
  • Criminal investigator
  • Postal worker
  • Nurse
  • Administrator

7. Education Jobs

Education pays in more than one way. If you have a job in the education field, you’ll usually be safe during a recession because kids are always going to need to learn reading, writing and arithmetic. Take a look at these education jobs:

  • Teacher
  • College professor
  • Principal
  • School administrator

8. Childcare Jobs

When Mom and Dad both work outside the home, childcare is a necessity—an expensive necessity. These jobs related to taking care of kids are a safe bet when it comes to being recession proof:

  • Preschool teacher
  • Day care assistant
  • Day care director
  • Afterschool care coordinator

9. Beauty Services

You’d think people would cut back their spending on beauty services during tough times. Maybe skip that cut and color to save some money? Not so fast! Studies have shown that spending on cosmetics and personal care actually went up during the Great Recession.3 Here are some recession-proof jobs in beauty services:

  • Hair stylist
  • Colorist
  • Cosmetologist
  • Cosmetics sales associate
  • Massage therapist

10. Grocery Jobs

This one’s kind of a no-brainer. We all have to eat. So unless you decide to live off the grid because of the state of the economy, at some point you’re going to end up pushing a cart down the aisles of a grocery store and filling it up with food. (Careful, don’t smash that loaf of bread.) On the other hand, restaurant jobs are more likely to be impacted by the economy because people tend to eat out less during tough times. Here are some recession-proof grocery jobs:

  • Grocery store manager
  • Cashier
  • Stocker
  • Bagger

11. Finance Jobs

Okay, this category is a little tricky. Some careers in finance (like financial advisers) did okay during the Great Recession, but others (like loan officers) got hit pretty hard. Here are some fairly recession-proof jobs in finance:

  • Financial advisor
  • Tax preparer
  • Bookkeeper

12. Funeral Industry Jobs

All right, this one’s a bummer because everyone’s going to die at some point. (I hate to be the bearer of bad news.) Did you know death care is one of the world’s oldest professions? Here are some funeral industry jobs that are safe from a recession:

  • Funeral director
  • Mortician
  • Crematorium technician
  • Cemetery groundskeeper
  • Grief counselor

What Jobs Are Most Affected by a Recession?

When a recession hits, people are quick to stop making big purchases like houses and new cars. This directly impacts people who work in the construction and manufacturing industries. When money is tight, people also spend less on entertainment, travel and other nonessential items. Here are some jobs that could take a hit during a recession:

  • Metal worker
  • Machinist
  • Assembly line worker
  • Home builder
  • Real estate agent
  • Travel agent
  • New car salesperson

What Are Recession-Proof Skills?

If you’re working in a field that could be affected by a recession, think about growing your skills now so you aren’t caught completely off guard if you ever lose your job. Chances are, you already have a number of soft skills that can translate to being successful in a different career field. Here are some soft and hard skills that are recession proof:

Soft Skills

  • Likeable
  • Coachable
  • Adaptable
  • Positive attitude
  • Honorable
  • Reliable
  • Creative

Hard Skills

  • Medical expertise
  • Computer/technology knowledge
  • Mechanical repair
  • Teaching
  • Nunchuck skills

Get More Career Tips

Like I said earlier, no job is completely recession-proof. But as we just saw, some industries are better prepared to survive a slow economy than others. Still, the economy shouldn't be a major factor in which career you choose. Instead, you should pursue a career that lets you use your best talents to perform your biggest passions and accomplish results you care deeply about.

You deserve to win at work. Our new book and assessment will show you how.

That's your professional sweet spot—not a job that simply adapts well to the economy.

Next Steps

If you do want to make a career switch—whether to one of the industries we just looked at or any other—here are your next steps to make it happen:

1. Get qualified. What certifications, education or training will you need to make a career switch?

2. Get connected. Finding opportunities to do what you love is as simple as getting around the right people and being in the right places—so go make it happen!

3. Get hired. Now it's time to start polishing your resumé, sending out applications and getting the wrinkles out of your favorite interview outfit. 

If you want more tips on landing a job in a new field that's a better fit for you, check out my Get Hired Digital Course. I cover all three of these steps in addition to other topics like how to interview well and how to use social media to give you an advantage.

Frequently Asked Questions

An economic recession lasts about 10 months on average.1 This usually means the stock market drops, companies lose money (or go bankrupt), and people lose jobs as a result.

Recessions cause people to lose jobs in lots of different industries. During the Great Recession, the unemployment rate hit 10%. Construction and manufacturing often have to cut back on jobs more than other industries, but tech companies can also get hit by layoffs.

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Ken Coleman

About the author

Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman is the author of the national bestselling book From Paycheck to Purpose and the #1 national bestseller The Proximity Principle. He hosts The Ken Coleman Show, a caller-driven show that helps listeners find the work they’re wired to do. Ken also co-hosts The Ramsey Show, the second-largest talk radio show in America, and makes regular appearances on Fox News and Fox Business. Through his speaking, broadcasting and syndicated columns, Ken gives people expert advice, providing strategic steps to get clear on their unique purpose and grow professionally. Learn More.

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