BY CHARLENE OLDHAM
The American economy might be humming along right now, but you should be prepared in case that changes. Job seekers hoping to insulate their careers from even the most devastating downturn should opt for expanding industries and specialized tasks that can’t be done by a robot or are less likely to be outsourced to another country.
Here are five industries that fit that bill:
Within the information technology sector, information security analysts are among the most in demand as the number of cyberattacks on computer networks and systems increases. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted an increase by 18 percent, or 14,800 jobs, between 2014 and 2024, making for many new job listings.
In light of this trend, colleges are implementing dedicated information security programs to help train aspiring analysts. Many already in the workforce hold more generalized bachelor’s degrees in computer science, programming or related fields.
Until employers are able to fulfill the ever-growing need for information security analysts, such workers will likely find themselves logging overtime and on-call hours to protect their organizations’ computer networks and systems. In exchange, many take home a nearly six-figure salary of $92,600, the median annual average in May 2016, according to the BLS.
HEALTHCARE AND SURGERY
A growing number of health care providers and their clients might be trying out telemedicine or conducting robotic surgery, but some procedures and calls can’t be handled solely through technological tools.
“Even with the automation of some functions in the medical field, nothing can replace a real person taking care of you,” said Cheryl Palmer, founder and president of the career coaching firm Call to Career. There will always be a demand for doctors, who need an extensive education that typically includes an undergraduate degree, a medical degree, and often three to seven years spent in internships and residencies, depending on the practitioner’s specialty.
This might not be the best career choice if you’re looking for work-life balance. Doctors tend to work long hours or endure irregular schedules, overnight hours and mandatory shifts on call. But helping patients feel their best can be personally and financially rewarding.
Primary care physicians received a median annual compensation of $241,273, and physicians practicing in medical specialties received total median annual compensation of $411,852, according to the Medical Group Management Association’s Physician Compensation and Production Survey, published in 2015.
Medically minded people who don’t want to spend as much time in school could opt to become occupational therapy assistants, one of more than a half-dozen health care industry jobs on the BLS list of fastest growing careers. The median annual wage for OT assistants was $59,010 in May 2016, according to BLS figures. This pay can help compensate for the physical demands that can come with a career helping clients complete challenging tasks to cultivate and improve skills needed for daily living.
If you want to be an occupational therapy assistant, you need an associate degree from an accredited occupational therapy assistant program and a professional license in most states. Post-high school training and licensing requirements are typical of many of the best jobs for weathering a recession, said Bruce Hurwitz, president of the executive recruiting and career coaching firm Hurwitz Strategic Staffing.
“Recession-proof jobs are any jobs that are hands-on,” he said. “Think of anything from an auto mechanic to a physician. These are jobs that provide services that, despite the economy, people still need.”
An economic downturn could actually boost job security for mechanics and other auto repair specialists as drivers look to keep cars running longer. Most technicians need to complete post-secondary education programs and earn certifications in their field to land entry-level jobs. They must also be more computer-savvy than mechanics of a generation ago.
Automotive technicians have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations, according to the BLS. They must frequently work with heavy parts and tools at their job sites, putting them at risk for workplace injuries such as cuts, sprains and bruises.
Those hazards could be a small price to pay in exchange for good job security and a solid salary. The median annual wage for automotive service technicians and mechanics was $38,470 in May 2016.
ACCOUNTING AND AUDITING
For some people, crunching numbers isn’t the most fun or attractive way to earn a salary. That’s why certain types of financial services professionals are always in demand, according to human resource experts. After all, keeping close tabs on company cash flow can be even more crucial during an economic downturn, which means tax accountants, forensic accountants, auditors and those with similar titles are fairly insulated during recessions.
These professions typically require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, but the educational investment will probably pay off. Accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $68,150 as of May 2016, according to the BLS. These are also among the few jobs on this list that offer some remote and work-from-home options.