IT Employment

There is no such thing as a recession-proof job

It seems like every business site has a list of recession-proof jobs. But a recent piece in the U.S. News and World Report indicates there is no such thing.

On any given day, there will be five "experts" on the Net that will tell you what jobs are recession-proof. It always annoys me when someone tries to make a blanket statement like that. It's either based on superficial "evidence" or misplaced confidence in the system.

Let's start with the fact if you perused all the sites that have lists of these so-called jobs, you'll find it rare that any two sites agree what those jobs are.

Some come close. For example, the top three recession-proof jobs according to Time magazine are:

  1. Computer Systems Analysts
  2. Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts
  3. Network and Computer Systems Administrators

On Forbes, appears the following list:

  • Software Design and Development
  • Networking and Systems Administration
  • Business Analysis and Software Implementation

But then you swing over to CareerBuilder's version and you see only one tech job in the top ten. HRWorld lists no tech jobs.

But finally, I came across an article in the U.S. News and World Report, "Why 'Recession-Proof' Jobs are a Myth," that presents the sobering reality: There's no such thing as a recession-proof job. Here is their argument, in brief, against some of the so-called recession-proof careers listed in other publications:

  • Education: According to the U.S. Labor Department, the number of local teaching jobs has fallen by 157,000.
  • Military: Congress tends to support big weapons programs more than spending on troops.
  • Public safety: Overall, state and local governments have cut 260,000 jobs this year alone, with more cuts likely in 2011 and 2012.
  • Utilities: Labor Department data shows a net loss of about 4,000 jobs in this industry since 2008.
  • Accounting: There's a glut of unemployed accountants and bookkeepers right now, thanks to severe corporate cutbacks and weak revenue at small businesses.
  • Sales reps: The economy has lost more than 400,000 sales jobs since 2008.
  • Federal government: Take note of the recent federal pay freeze.
  • Tech sector: Low-level IT jobs are being outsourced and offshored on a regular basis.

I know this is some unneeded news for a Monday morning, but there are perhaps some silver linings. All companies, in any area, are dependent upon their network systems functioning properly. And no one knows today what new business-boosting technologies are just around the corner-except for the IT pro. Stay abreast of all new tech and at least you'll be prepared for when the economy turns around.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

37 comments
xcav8r369
xcav8r369

You're all thinking "working, tax-paying, law abiding". Stop it. I live in SW FL. No matter how 'poor' people get - the ones who still make a profit: drug dealers, prostitutes, liquor stores, thieves, backyard breeders/fighters (pets). No matter how 'poor' people are they always find money to keep their cable tv on and buy beer, smokes and illegal drugs. Cable/satellite companies and cell phone companies offer free hardware and discounted or free service for "low income" (read welfare collecting, non-reported or illegal resident) customers. See: http://www.satellitte-tv.info See: http://assurancewireless.com see: http://safelinkwireless.com

NexS
NexS

Being employed either BY the government/council or IN government/council would be fairly sturdy.

Michael Jay
Michael Jay

The pay is nonexistent, the hours are insane, the risks are high, there is no retirement plan, and the job lasts for your whole life. But the rewards can be awesome. The job, Parenting.

Englebert
Englebert

Many examples : Phone providers : You need your phone to get a job Barbers : You need a haircut to get a job Plumbers : Does this occupation look attractive now Collection Agencies : no explanation needed Grocers/Food : You need to eat Pharmacies : You need your drugs (prescribed ones) Security : Law and order ...and so on...

suzan.reagan
suzan.reagan

Not only is no job recession proof but there is No such thing as an individual who can't be replaced. We often work very hard to make ourselves indispensable. This is good because we are good at our jobs, however, one should never become so foolish as to totally rely on the assumption that your employer can't exist without you. In the end a job is an investment where you work hard and hopefully earn money. But like any investment there are risks. We try to minimize our risk by finding occupations that look less risky. Hence the popularity of the lists of "Recession Proof Jobs." We also try to convince our employers how important we are. Ultimately the work environment is not and has not ever been the secure entitlement that we all crave.

reisen55
reisen55

I used to believe that my career and job at a major Insurance firm in Manhattan was SECURE. That our team was first rate and performing very well indeed, as we were. Then we were outsourced to Computer Sciences Corp in August of 2004 and still WE BELIEVED their lies and promises. We were still working well, but in order to save the contract a year later, CSC informed us that while we were performing beyond the SLA agreement level ....... out positions were being eliminated in 30 days. Bye. Oh, BancTec will hire 80% of you back, just as lower wages. Better than nothing, right? Wrong. BancTec made offers to only 40 out of 140 people fired. Why? To avoid the Federal WARN act provision, of 60 days severance for firings of more than 100, instead keeping 30 days. Cute. As a result, and from what I have read of ACS, EDS - now under HP - Accenture, IBM India, etc forever - the American IT career is gone. You are worth nothing, and if you are, you can be replaced by somebody in Bangalore answering a phone to solve Windows problems 'cheaper,faster,better.' And they got rid of all THAT IT DEADWOOD. Outsourcing has destroyed so many IT professionals in this country over the last decade it is a crime, and we NEED JOBS HERE, not in India. INDIA does not come over here to support our economy. OH, it helps SHAREHOLDER VALUE!!! Never saw a direct linkage there. My rather jaded 2 cents

supperboy
supperboy

You are on the ball recession will hit all the jobs. I have to say the jobs will be hit the most, are; the It jobs as money becomes harder to obtain and the spending limits say. I can't afford it because my tax bill is killing me an my business.A simple say we are charged more than what we users can afford therefore, when we the users need to survive... Ask your selves were the money will go/

GreenPirogue
GreenPirogue

If, when you say that no job is recession proof, you mean that you are looking for a job where no one can lose their job, even if it means personal incompetence, you are probably right. Even if you mean that people will not be looking for work if their employer dissolves, you are probably right. But here is a quick list of jobs where you should always have work (if you are competent or willing to work): - Nursing. There has been a nursing shortage in the US for at least 15 years and it is not getting any better. The average age of a nurse is increasing (because we can't train them fast enough), and they are working more and more hours. Even if your hospital folds, the number of patients will not decrease, so you can get a job with the hospital across the street. - Physicians. Well, not everyone can be accepted to medical school, but if you get your degree and are not incompetent, your job is recession-proof. - Car thief. The job is immoral, but even if you are bad at it, you still have a back-up plan. Three squares and a cot. I would not suggest this line of work, but it appears to be recession-proof. - Day laborer in the agricultural industry. The pay is low, the work is hard, but the jobs are available. - Prostitute. Although there are not publically available information concerning job openings, salary ranges and retirement plans, "the oldest profession" would seem to be recession-proof. Again, I would not recommend it, but this is a job where the low supply of prostitutes ensures that demand would remain high even in recessions. Instead of saying that no job is recession-proof, I might offer another global statement. Making statements about absolutes will ensure some smart a@@ will make some silly response.

Ron K.
Ron K.

There seems to be no end of parties in Washington D.C., every day. I'd think that caterers in the area are having a banner year. Of course if you're a caterer out here in the boondocks where people are wondering where their next meal is coming from catering might not be a good job.

jmantra
jmantra

How come nursing isn't mentioned? Isn't there a shortage of RNs?

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... of a much more pervasive principle: there are no easy answers. If there were, they'd all be taken anyway. The recipe for success is to use your brain and be creative. Look for unusual opportunities, rather than the so-called safe bet.

Dr.C
Dr.C

Liquidators, scrap dealers ... to start with.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

except you currently have one. That may change, it's career you keep an eye on, that's under your control, whether you do or not is of course a personal choice.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Really, any insurance, but particularly auto insurance, as many governments require all drivers to have it. It is absolutely recession proof.

inventorysystem
inventorysystem

You hit the problem right on the head. There's never been a recession-proof job because, although some industries might be hurt less by a recession, they certainly won't be keen on hiring or having big expenses while consumer spending is down and there's economic uncertainty. Employees should do their best in whatever industry they're passionate about. Don't worry so much about finding a recession-proof job and just focus on doing your best in the job you've got.

Michael Jay
Michael Jay

the high level government types have put themselves above recession, the people, and everything else. They are immune to everything as they have the power to have anything. Fix that and you fix the world.

NexS
NexS

Oh, you.

jonrosen
jonrosen

barbers: nope.. do my own hair. But then I just about keep a military buzz-cut. pharmacies: I don't take any proscribed meds, or so rarely that it may as well be nil. I do my utmost to not use the stuff if I can help it phone providers: varies. I have a cell phone, but I haven't used a landline in about 10 years now. collection agencies: yes and no. with so many people having less and less money... the collections agencies are getting that much less too. if they don't bring in the money, they're out. some of the others though.. yes, or at least more-likely. Excepting, of course, with so many people being out of work.. That the managers will have less and less problem firing someone over something small, because there's 'always another warm body to place'

reisen55
reisen55

Phone Providers - fire everybody and replace with VoIP systems. Barbers - If you business does not fail. Plumbers - Home Depot and Loews compete. Collection Agencies - until everybody is paid off, they are good. Grocers and Food - many IT techs already are employed at ShopRite, Stop N Shop, et al. Pharmacies - I have seen huge computerized dispensing machines, no people needed. Security - police and fire depts already trimming staff, see Newark NJ. Nope, nothing here is really secure either.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

they can't see past their billfolds to look far enough ahead to see that this practice WILL bite them in the *** because nobody can afford what they are selling.

chcallahan
chcallahan

Why not make someone in India money? Hell we even outsourced our debt to China lot of moron's in Washington even more at the polls we keep sending them back

asforza1
asforza1

What about the funeral industry?

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

Company round the corner from home has set up a catering service and contracted to the two nearest cemeteries. Does a roaring trade. So many poor-taste jokes, so little time.

toni.bowers_b
toni.bowers_b

In the grand scheme of things, there always seems to be a shortage of nurses. But I think that if it comes down to cutting costs in a recession, a hospital would just lay off some nurses and expect the rest to pick up the slack.

JamesRL
JamesRL

You can have auto insurers who specialise in certain areas of the market. You can also choose how you assess risk, and how you invest the money you get from premiums (its usually in the markets). So while everyone needs insurance, no one needs to buy it from one particular company. Unless you are in a province with a government insurance and thats another kettle of fish.

NexS
NexS

Now that's an interesting thought. It seems that recession can so easily be lifted for one person, why not the rest? There always needs to be power somewhere, for someone.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

I don't take proscribed meds, either -- though I used to in high school.

gechurch
gechurch

There are far too many exceptions to prove this rule. Quite a few people have posted with their own list. I haven't read them all, but off the top of my head would add doctors (particularly specialists), politicians, garbage collectors and bar-owners. Even in the great depression there were many people that not just survived, but thrived. I have always enjoyed Toni's articles, but making a blanket statement that no job is recession-proof is silly... just as silly as the authors saying that there are safe jobs based only on job title. Whether your job is safe depends on you and the company you work for far more than it depends on your job title. I'm an IT consultant. I work for a small company with no debt and virtually no management - everyone brings in money. I do work for multiple companies, I'm flat-out and I bring in good money. My job is safe. Trying to draw comparisons between me and anyone else who happens to have a job title of "IT Consultant" is not going to lead you to any useful conclusions.

gechurch
gechurch

[Edit: Removed - I didn't think this post submitted so I re-posted below.]

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

When people are doing well, they celebrate. When things are tough, they commiserate. Of course, you have to own the store, or else you risk being cut for someone who'll work longer hours for less.

toni.bowers_b
toni.bowers_b

And since they make a bundle off of vulnerable people, a recession shouldn't be a problem with them.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

the more work placed on anybody, including CNA, RN, PN, LPN, etc, the faster they burn out and need to get away. If it wasn't for that, there wouldn't be such a shortage.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Competition among insurers is artificially reduced by the requirements of each state, which cause insurers to pick and choose -- and perhaps also by some gentleman's agreement between them (although if that were known it would be illegal). Still, it isn't entirely recession-proof. Things get bad enough and people start driving illegally without insurance, or perhaps they can't afford to keep their cars anyway.

jonrosen
jonrosen

Afterall.. the 'death industry' as it's known, has been and always will be one of the biggest money-fleecing crocks of industry crap ever. Try watching Penn & Teller's BULLSH!T! series episode on it some time.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Back in the old days, people tended to go for the full 9 yards, caskets etc. Today more and more people are getting cremated and being interned in an urn. Huge part of the profit is gone there.

reisen55
reisen55

USB Bank pays it's workers in Bangalore $1.80 an hour - true, from SiliconIndia a few months back. FAR below minimum wage here and doubtless somewhat close to IT support wages. Now, take CSC, IBM, et al and have them pay their Indian workers this wage AND THEN turn around and charge American clients a consulting per hour rate equivalent to what independent consultants do - $125 per hour or more, multiply that by big contracts and MAN DO YOU HAVE PROFIT MOTIVE!!!!!!!!!!! So, can the American workers and make more money hand over fist. It's easy.

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