The Best Careers for a Tough Economy

In these times of cutbacks and layoffs, you’ve likely put any possible career-changing plans on hold, for fear of not finding work. But if your current work isn’t satisfying, or if you’ve already found yourself downsized in your current field, you should know that some industries are not only surviving in this economy, they’re thriving.

When it comes to caring for our health and that of our loved ones, expanding our minds, or protecting our money and our information, professionals with the right career training will always be needed, regardless of the economy.

Health Care

A renewed government commitment to reforming the system; medical advances keeping people alive longer; baby boomers who are retiring, leaving their positions in the industry and increasingly facing the physical tolls of age – it all makes the healthcare industry particularly healthy right now. It’s expected to generate 3 million jobs from now through 2016 – more than any other industry. In particular, pharmacists, physical therapists, and nurses will be in especially high demand – many even project labor shortages in these fields, which may result in dramatic wage growth.

Pet Care

Many experts are calling the pet care industry recession-proof. Americans spent more than $43 billion on their pets in 2008; that’s 26 percent higher than 2004 figures. Market research suggests continued growth in pet care product sales of more than 13 percent by 2013. Employment of veterinary technicians – a career generally requiring at least two years of formal career training – is projected to grow by a whopping 41 percent through 2016.


You’re reading this article for the same reason that education is particularly important now – the need to improve upon your skills only grows in a recession. Demand is high across the board for teachers and administrators – particularly in higher education, where many working professionals are turning. Postsecondary teaching jobs are expected to grow by 23 percent through 2016. Most full-time, tenured positions require Ph.D.’s, but there is a growing trend among employers who are hiring those with master’s degrees or a combination of a bachelor’s degree and career experience, in order to fill the growing demand.


If there’s one thing people need more of when the economy’s bad, its help managing their money. Individuals and businesses alike are turning more than ever to accountants for help navigating the increasingly complex tax and reporting laws. CFO reported earlier this year that accounting will not only experience tremendous employment growth, but salary growth as well; average salaries are projected to grow by more than 7 percent. Companies are increasingly finding a scarcity among professional accountants with CPA career training, making this one of today’s hottest jobs; employment growth of 18 percent or more expected is by 2016.

Information Technology and Computer Systems

As industries – particularly fast-growing ones like healthcare or education – increasingly make technology a priority, those who understand how to operate it and monitor its security will be in demand. Unemployment is at a record low among college-educated IT professionals, whose average starting salaries rose approximately 5 percent in 2008. Career training for such positions vary from on-the-job experience to two- or four-year college degrees. In particular, network and systems administrators – those who design, install, and manage computer systems – who will experience staggering employment growth of 27 percent through 2016.