Time For Plan B? Top 10 Recession-Proof Jobs

Forbes has a list of the (supposedly) most recession-proof jobs, and oddly “funeral home director” isn’t among them. How strange… The list is very heavy with accounting work and jobs that require computer skills with a little nursing and sales thrown in for variety. Seemingly missing from the list is the guy who “deals with the goddamn customers so the engineers don’t have to.” Oh well.

Forbes’ Top 10 Recession-Proof Jobs:

1. Sales Representative
2. Software Design and Development
3. Nursing
4. Accounting Executive
5. Accounting Staff
6. Networking and Systems Administration
7. Administrative Assistant
8. Business Analysis, Software Implementation
9. Business Analysis, Research
10. Finance Staff

Recession-Proof Jobs [Forbes]
(Photo: moxythecat )


Edit Your Comment

  1. 3drage says:


  2. canuckistani says:

    so does this mean I should drop out of med school with just 2 years remaining?

  3. javi0084 says:

    Repo men.

  4. Hijakk says:

    Woohoo, I’m on personal leave from my Network and Systems Administration job to do an internship in Software Development!
    I’m totally set.

  5. Woofer00 says:

    Oddly enough, my first thought upon reading the title of the post was a strange intersection between birth control and unemployment

  6. beavis88 says:

    @canuckistani: Yes. Yes it does. You should also begin panicking…..NOW!

  7. Sh3rpa says:

    Now lets cross reference this list with top ten outsourced jobs and see how many remain?

    um, nurses, secretaries, door to door salesmen and teh finance.

  8. Hijakk says:

    @Sh3rpa: Woe betide those companies that try to outsource their whole sysadmin staff. You need people on hand for that.

  9. bonzombiekitty says:

    My job is fairly recession proof, provided that the government doesn’t reneg on a federal mandate and our two main customers spend millions upon millions of dollars to switch to someone else.

  10. Jesse says:

    I doubt this list will do much to silence the critics who say we are graduating too many business majors and not enough engineers.

  11. mindshadow says:

    Network admin? Sweet.

  12. feralparakeet says:

    9. Business Analysis, Research

    So why can’t I find a job doing this?


  13. SkokieGuy says:

    Recession proof, but not neccesarily export-proof. How much of this (other than nursing) is already outsourced to countries?

    Policemen, firemen, EMT, nurses, these seem to me to be both recession proof and overseas-outsourcing proof, which is even more important.

  14. plasticredtophat says:

    hmm, good think I am in Nursing school! Go Rns!

  15. chiieddy says:

    @feralparakeet: I sort of do it. Business Analysis, software support isn’t on there, but I have to research to determine if it’s a bug or the customer being stupid.

  16. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    No mortician?

  17. @SkokieGuy and @Sh3rpa: Believe me, what Hijakk said is perfectly true. The IT industry might have the most outsourced jobs, but they also have jobs that are very firmly set here. System, Network and DB admins, Business analysts and software designers all NEED to be close to the base and the client. Also, most of the outsourced jobs are bulk coding, testing and such. The ones I mentioned above wont typically be outsourced. (But thats not saying they wont hire someone on an H1 to do the same work :D — but hey, they pay taxes too.)

  18. SALES REPS FTW! Nice.

  19. chemmy says:

    With the dollar on the drop… People overseas are buying a lot more than usual.

    Let’s say I feel decently safe doing air export for the time being.

  20. sven.kirk says:

    @javi0084: I agree on that one.

    But Forbes must be smoking some real good stuff. Yes, sales rep is recession proof job. But keeping that job, is a whole thing in itself, especially when people are not buying.

    Nursing, because there will always be sick people.

    Customer (dis)Service, people will alway complain.

    IT. Don’t hold your breath. I think a revolution of DIYers will try to start up. And when they screw up, and they will. Don’t expect to get paid as well.

  21. petrarch1612 says:

    what recession?

  22. 11. Work for a european company in the US.

  23. asaturn says:

    those jobs suck. want to keep your job? work in the education sector. namely, work for a state-funded college.

  24. k6richar says:

    no teaching?

  25. lincolnparadox says:

    @canuckistani: Actually, with the credits that you have now you could switch to an RN or an NP pretty easily.

    If Obama gives us universal health care, the people who really love medicine might want to be Nurse Practioners instead of physicians…

  26. rockasocky says:

    @canuckistani: No, but maybe I should drop out of law school with 2 years remaining!

  27. pixiegirl1 says:

    What about law enforcement? Did they forget that crime goes up when people don’t have jobs/money?

  28. LatinoGeek says:

    I thought the Mob and porn industry was recession proof.

  29. womynist says:

    The worse the economy gets, the more business there is at the Welfare office. Now that’s a recession proof job!

  30. cloryfreeborn says:

    @k6richar: apparently the proliferation of plan b will put an end to that!

  31. Drowner says:


  32. rgshredder says:

    it’s interesting that professional list makers didn’t make the list…

  33. donkeyjote says:


    What a load of bull. Ain’t nothing a programmer here can do that one overseas can’t, except whine in your face.

    Now network admin, you need to be physically there to fix stuff.

  34. MayorBee says:

    I’m glad I went toward Accounting rather than theoretical mathematics. Theoretical mathematicians never make lists like these.

  35. airhed13 says:

    Yeah, I’ll buy #2. Overseas outsourcing to people who turn out crap that doesn’t work for 1/3rd the price in 5x the time is a bigger threat to my software engineering job than the recession is.

    Heck, a booming economy is a bigger threat, for that matter! I lost a lot more of my software engineering colleagues in layoffs at the end of my employer’s most profitable quarter ever than I have in the subsequent recession.

  36. battra92 says:

    @Hijakk: Exactly. A computer/phone system can’t realistically be managed by a guy in India. Heck, we have multiple locations and occasionally I have to get in the company car and drive out for IT work.

    Also, we aren’t in a recession so stop panicking everyone!

  37. battra92 says:

    @donkeyjote: Now network admin, you need to be physically there to fix stuff.

    Exactly. You can’t fly someone in to run wires or fix your toilets either. I put Network admin in the same sort of category as other maintenance type jobs, except you get less dirty in IT.

  38. MercuryPDX says:

    Mmmmm disagree with all of those except #3. An “internet” company I worked at laid off people in all the above positions (obviously, no on in Nursing on staff.) citing the need to reduce headcount.

    Is anyone REALLY safe?

  39. MercuryPDX says:

    Seemingly missing from the list is the guy who “deals with the goddamn customers so the engineers don’t have to.”

    AKA Project manager aka Business Analysis, Software Implementation. :)

  40. ScubaSteveKzoo says:

    admission counselors FTW!

  41. @rockasocky: There’s always work for bankruptcy attorneys!

  42. violettefay says:

    @SkokieGuy: @pixiegirl1: Less money all around means towns can’t pay their police/fire/emt, let alone hire more. A lot of towns where I live have been forced to cut back on town hall office hours, road repairs, etc, and I wouldn’t be surprised if public safety is close behind, as building fees and revenue streams dry up, and citizens reject higher budgets to prevent tax increases (not that they don’t already).

  43. TheBusDriver says:

    @pixiegirl1: Crime goes up, but many police forces are downsizing – you don’t get paid more because crime goes up, but with less taxes coming in, the budget gets smaller…maybe why crime goes up?

  44. ITDEFX says:

    What about public education? Yea I know there are budget cuts but if you are destaffed because the Principal didn’t manage the budget properly but you had a good evaluation then they can simply transfer you to another school. Bottom line is I think there is no reason why the education system shouldn’t be on the list.

  45. JiminyChristmas says:

    There must be some method to Forbes’ madness, but Finance Staff?

    Let’s see…Bear Stearns, Countrywide, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, BofA…all of them have had mass layoffs numbering in the 1000s in 2007/08. Not to mention, when it comes to the plain number of jobs nationwide, finance is just not that big of an employment sector.

    As for ‘sales rep’, what does that include exactly? At first glance, there are a lot of sales jobs out there but a lot of them aren’t real jobs or jobs worth having. If you were to go through the listings in my local paper it sure looks like there are a lot of sales jobs, but anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 of them are borderline or outright scams.

  46. JiminyChristmas says:

    @ITDEFX: Believe it or not, public education can be a pretty volatile field, especially for those with relatively few years of experience.

    Where I live, schools live or die by the fate of the district’s tax levy. If voters don’t approve or renew the levy…hello layoffs. Likewise, K-12 education is the 800-pound gorilla of most state budgets. If the state has to drastically reduce expenditures they’re going to cut education, simply because that’s where the money is.

  47. Number 1, baby!

  48. BPorche says:

    I disagree with the list…its pretty idiotic for anyone to go into the finance sector while turmoil is occuring in the very area – finance. The same for sales, does the idea work this way? Recession = less buy? Why be in sales?

    Here is the list I think should be:

    1) Nursing
    2) Teacher
    3) Doctors
    4) Police
    5) Mechanics
    6) Military

    Those are what I think is recession proof.

  49. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:


  50. jscott73 says:

    @JiminyChristmas: Exactly, sales is such a broad term, are they talking about people selling suits, cars, software, everything? Then there will always be something to be sold, no matter what. But in reality whenever the companies I’ve worked for had to reduce headcount it was the sales guys that got the axe first.

    As a software engineer I have had the spectre of off-shoring loom over my head for the past 7 1/2 years but I have seen very little of it, I know it exists but I think it’s more a scare tactic management likes to weild to make us feel lucky to still have a job and not to complain about pay or ever ask about raises.

    What I do can not be done overseas, I have a hard time doing it from home on occasion. I have customers in house that need answers/solutions quickly when they face a problem and I need to understand what they do and need to actually implement a solution that meets their needs. As long as my customers are local my job will be local as well.

  51. louveciennes says:


    Admin Assist right here. Companies will always need someone to answer phones and do boring paperwork so executives don’t have to do sully their lily-white hands with it.

  52. NotATool says:

    I too was wondering about “sales rep.” If nobody’s buying anything due to a “recession,” who exactly are the reps selling to?

    I’ve always thought that jobs in the healthcare and grocery industries are rather recession-proof. You gotta eat and take care of yourself.

  53. fafi says:

    don’t forget: COLLECTIONS CSR

  54. t3rminal says:

    just great, with two years to go in architecture school the country is going to enter a recession. Fabulous! If someone isn’t safe is for sure an architect. One project may take moths or even years, so if no one has the money to build it can be a very long time before we get back into business. People already don’t like us because of our “astronomical” fees. On the other hand, I guess this is a problem that affects every sector. No one is completely safe, but I’ll put my money on the nurse, mail man, trash collector and pretty much any public service personnel. Otherwise bye bye society!?

  55. É®îç says:

    What about being police? We’re hiring and can’t fill our vacancies fast enough. What’s better than a 20 year career with full benefits and a great retirement plan? The current recession isn’t hurting being police at all.

  56. ironchef says:

    and the military.

    They always need fresh ones for far away tours.

  57. steininger says:

    What about Economist, I would think that they would not only be recession proof but go up in demand in times of hardship as as people look for a way out. But I don’t know, I just graduated with a degree in Econ and got a job doing number 9 instead.

  58. warf0x0r says:

    @Hijakk: Until next year when the gov’t follows bill gates advice and tries to open up about 100k H1B Visas. Then you have to compete with people willing to work for about 15 to 25% less than you.

  59. PHX602 says:

    I am shocked Crack Whore, or Crack Whore Assistant were not listed.

  60. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Wooo-Hoo! Number 6. System Administrators FTW!
    Added Bonus: Friday is SysAdmin Day! [www.sysadminday.com]
    Everything’s coming up Milhouse!

  61. TechnoDestructo says:


    That’s kind of the inverse.

  62. drjayphd says:

    Seemingly missing from the list is the guy who “deals with the goddamn customers so the engineers don’t have to.” Oh well.

    So I’m assuming it wouldn’t be wise, in the middle of an interview, to tell them rather firmly that you have people skills, dammit! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!

  63. ZenAndTonic says:

    I’d add people involved in food and product safety to that list, given that companies involved in food safety scares really get screwed over when they happen. Postions like quality control, microbiologists, etc.

  64. ITDEFX says:


    I have worked in the educational field for 5 years.

    2 as a technology assistant
    2 as an instructional assistant
    2 as an after school computer graphics/photography teacher(same years as the IA job)

    The only thing I have witnessed is cutbacks in funding for either new teachers, new aids and materials. It was only last year where I heard about de-staffing. The principal send out an internal email saying the budget has been cut and that she and her staff will be carefully considering the qualifications of her staff to determine who she can keep. In the end 1 kinder garden IA was destaffed because Kindergarden enrollment for the following year was going to be down.

    Education is a MUST. My county hires new teachers like crazy every year (mostly bad ones). Anyways I still don’t see how Education cannot be considered recession proof. The only way you can loose your job is if you F’up big time and either get terminated or not get a contract renewal. They can’t say, well we need to save some money so we have to fire a few hundred teachers. Instead they just simply cut back on a few things like materials and other things need to make a school 100 percent functional without compromising education and safety.

  65. Orv says:

    @Hijakk: Maybe so, but some companies are contracting out the whole shebang. Why would you need an onsite sysadmin to run an email server when you can contract with someone else to give you email service “in the cloud”?

  66. Breach says:

    woooo for computer techies!

  67. jbl-az says:

    I’m surprised only one person, in passing, has mentioned this:

    A most recession-proof business is an auto repair shop, and an auto mechanic should be in a recession-proof job. As people put off buying new cars, keeping old ones going becomes a priority.

  68. parnote says:

    @SkokieGuy: Nursing jobs are not exactly “recession proof and outsourcing proof,” as you might think. The LARGE hospital corporation (starts with “H” and ends with “A”) that owns the hospital where I work has resorted to bringing in nurses from India to take nursing positions at lower wages. So, in a manner of speaking, even those jobs have been out-sourced. These nurses, while hard working and willing to work virtually any shift for lower wages (since their wage is still many, many times what they could make in India), can barely speak the language. I can’t count the number of patients who have complained about not being able to understand one single word these nurses say to them.

    Don’t get me wrong … this is NOT a racist post, nor am I slamming anyone but the corporate decision makers for making poor decisions that directly affect the care provided to those unfortunate enough to suffer from poor health, requiring them to seek assistance from health care professionals. If you or your loved one is in need of such care, shouldn’t/wouldn’t you expect better for them than to be cared for by someone who cannot even communicate with you and that you cannot communicate with?

  69. Aphex242 says:

    @Canadian Impostor: You ARE aware Europe is in a recession, right? lol

  70. Televiper says:

    @jscott73: I agree, it’s a bit naive to say that a software developers job is easily off-shored. If anything you need the expertise in house to develop the specifications for the software being written. Also, with the Internet booming, and advanced computer systems creeping into more areas of commerce and industry, more programmers are required.

  71. sleze69 says:

    Interesting that they don’t mention federal jobs. I don’t remember the last time there was a general layoff of government employees.

  72. Zonino says:

    Sweet! My job is a mix of 6, 8, and 9!

  73. @ITDEFX: Erm… there’s a teacher surplus here in CA (subprime means kids moving out of the state into new homes). Ah-nold just called for 70,000 teachers to be fired by September. And the newer, less qualified ones will not be the first to go. They are working from the highest paid down, offering early retirements and unpaid “leave of absences” to seasoned instructors. And community colleges have a min. 2 year hiring freeze. So education… not so secure.

    CA IS experiencing a severe nursing shortage, tho’. If you are so inclined, get thee to DeVry.

  74. Jesse in Japan says:

    Don’t forget Repo Man.

  75. unpolloloco says:

    @Sh3rpa: The recession means that you are less likely to be outsourced because they can pay you less now than they had to before

  76. danseuse322 says:

    I guess comment codes don’t apply to posters who take the Lord’s name in vain in a casual news blurb. Thanks. Thanks a lot. Seriously, I don’t care if you ban me, can we not be intelligent without words that are gravely offensive? If it were a word about RACE you would never do it but gee whiz, those prude Christians. I’m outta here.

  77. BlondeGrlz says:

    @BPorche: @ironchef: For real though, almost no one gets fired from the military. Besides the whole get-shot-at-give-your-life-for-your-country bit, it can be a pretty safe bet. I’m not even being a smart ass. In the 80’s when everyone’s dad was getting fired mine was sitting safe an secure at his military telecommunications desk job.

  78. cametall says:

    Schweet! Accounting is up there! Maybe when I graduate in a year I’ll find a job quick!

    *crosses fingers*

  79. thesuperpet says:

    yay, just finished my nursing assitant certification so I should be set till I go to nurcing school

  80. tech10171968 says:

    @BlondeGrlz: very good point about the military. I rode out the last recession with no problems for that very same reason – to get “fired” from the military you’d pretty much have to be doing it on purpose.

    Fortunately, the military gave me a skill which also can’t be completely offshored: anything having to do with electronics repair. What happens when a 500-foot radio transmitter tower goes on the blink? You’re sure as hell not going to ship it to Bangladesh. In fact, you often don’t have that option with many electronics devices ranging from your living room television to airport radars and municipal public safety radio sites; in almost all cases maintenance and repair of these systems pretty much require local attention.

  81. rellog says:

    @BPorche: A a teacher, I have to disagree with your having us on your list. Schools are cutting WAY back on staffing because funds are drying up. I know a teacher that is scheduled for a classroom of 44 kids with no other staff (at least not yet.) Districts are cutting way back and jobs are in short supply.

    Also, while nursing isn’t being “outsourced”, they are importing to staff our hospitals. Plenty of nurses from other countries are coming here to work.

  82. rellog says:

    @ITDEFX: “Instead they just simply cut back on a few things like materials and other things need to make a school 100 percent functional without compromising education and safety.”

    Whaaaaa???? That’s one of the last things they cut back on. Plenty of schools axe teachers. Maybe your district is so bad that they have tons of turn over, but most district, at least in WI, are cutting staffing all over- students be damned! On of the richest districts in WI recently voted down a resolution to fund putting a new roof on the school, and they’re trying to force the high school teachers to teach 6 instead of 5 classes. Do you think that will have a positive affect on students? As a science teacher, I can tell you that we NEED our preps. So now those teachers will not have 50 minutes to ready a lab, or grade papers or whatever. I’d be damned if I’d take MORE work home to finish. I do enough of that already… so that just leaves cutting back on activities and in depth assignments.

  83. Zwitterion says:

    I actually think I have a recession-proof job as well. I’m in the manufacturing of oil refinery equipment. They seem to be buying more stuff than we almost can make in a decent turn around time. As long as fuel is needed (gas, diesel, natural gas, propane, or any type of fuel or chemical), we are set where I am currently employed.

  84. Doug Nelson says:

    Interesting that the list matches the list of soul-killing jobs that pay more than $10/hr.

  85. Penchinon says:

    I’m sticking with Law Enforcement.

    You’re always going to need people to enforce laws, even in a Mad Max dystopia.

  86. jeffimix says:

    3 years out of 4 year degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration done… gravy boat of gonna have some kind of job here I come!

    Assuming Forbes gets anything right?

    Oh and yes, Computer Administration can destroy your soul, if you let it.

    Administration by the way, is not Computer Science. It’s the Science one that tends to get off shored. Administration is the guy who yells at you for looking at porn at work and replaces your broken stuff, you know, on your desk, not in Bangladesh.

  87. spidra says:

    @Sh3rpa: Too true. I don’t think that list is actually that accurate. I don’t know how many jobs with livable wages will be left but the jobs that are going to be left are ones that depend on having a person in the U.S. doing it. Ones that cannot be computerized, done over the phone or outsourced to some place that pays even less than American employers do.

  88. @rockasocky:
    Points and laughs and the poor, poor, miserable 1L :-)
    God, I wish I had listened to all those people who told me I shouldn’t go to Law School. I could be at home smoking dope or something instead of busting my ass in Tax.
    Of course, I have two years in now, so it would be a terrible waste of $70K if I quit now. :-/

  89. cynon says:

    Software design and development? Yeah, right. Maybe if you live in India…

  90. mzhartz says:

    I’ll have to disagree with this list too. In my experience, the first jobs I’ve seen go at large companies are admin assistants. (Granted, it’s usually not the boss that has the assistant that’s doing the layoffs.)

    And Sales? There is so much turnover in sales positions! If you don’t sell enough, you’re booted out and the next guy brought in.

  91. IphtashuFitz says:

    @Sh3rpa: Maybe I’m just lucky but I’ve never seen a situation where sysadmins have been outsourced. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always been a sysadmin at smaller companies and now at a large university. But I know sysadmins at large high-tech companies, etc. and none of them have ever indicated any sysadmin outsourcing.

  92. mac-phisto says:

    yeah, i’m gonna go ahead & agree with the folks who say this list is b.s. – at least in my area. cops, teachers & state workers are the only “recession-proof” jobs in connecticut. they are not easy jobs to get (except maybe the teaching positions – they’re all over the place). the state hasn’t been hiring for years in any department, but if you want a cushy job that you can never get fired from – that’s it. i swear, you call any agency phone # & ask a simple question like “where is your main office” & the receptionist has to put you on hold twice & then transfer you to somebody’s voicemail before you’ll get an answer.

    plus, 20 years to a full pension, benefits packages that you’d have to be upper-level management to see anywhere else & 14 holidays/year (seriously, they even get stupid holidays like “national lint day” off).

    am i bitter much? hell yeah, i just got my tax bill.

  93. justbychance says:

    I’d say that nursing should be #1, #2 at the least. People are getting older, more people are living longer. If you’re a nurse, you probably get to dictate your salary and your hours.

  94. girly says:

    @jscott73: Seen it, lived it.

  95. katknits says:


    That was just what I was thinking. It’s hard out there for a BA.

    It’s funny this post comes up the very week I’m taking a workshop to be a business analyst. I feel SO much more secure!

    Also, to tag along with the outsourcing comments – I work for a Government contractor, and many positions need to be filled by red-blooded American citizens for security reasons.

  96. mac-phisto says:

    @loogee: you would think, wouldn’t you? couldn’t be further from the truth, though. most of the nurses i know work shitty hours, they work 60+ hours/week, they’re often on-call when they are not working & many have side jobs to compensate for a crappy salary.

    some nursing statistics for you here –> [www.allnursingschools.com]

    considering the length of schooling & certification needed to become a nurse, an average salary of $52,000 doesn’t seem all that great, does it? & on top of that, the profession is suffering from a “squeeze” – either nurses are opting for the less difficult CNA certification (i think that’s a 2-yr program), or they are supplementing their RN status with additional schooling/certification to become NPs (master degree) &/or receiving advanced certs.

  97. drjayphd says:

    @Jesse in Japan: How could we? Because what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours… is mine too:

  98. Brazell says:

    @mac-phisto: Schooling for an RN, say, bachelors + 2 year grad program … is not much at all, comparitively. $52,000/year is pretty reasonable.

  99. mac-phisto says:

    @MichaelBrazell: bear in mind that’s an average salary (& in the profession, salaries can vary greatly based on a nurse’s certifications). to compare, the average teacher’s salary for roughly the same time period is $47,600. –> [www.aft.org]

    in addition, a teacher doesn’t need any additional schooling, annual certification renewals, malpractice insurance, only works 5 days/week, 180 days/year & is never on-call.

    still sound reasonable?

  100. Imaginary_Friend says:

    Get real, Forbes.

    Here’s my list:

    1. Hooker
    2. Drug dealer
    3. Politician (see how I did that? The Holy Trinity)
    4. CEO of the following industries: telecommunications, auto-making, pharmaceuticals
    5. Motivational speaker
    6. Plastic surgeon
    7. Farm worker
    8. Oil rig worker
    9. Corporate shill
    10. Mercenary