Which Industries Are Recession-Proof? Careers That Weather Economic Downturn

Recessions are a natural, inevitable stage of the economic cycle, but that doesn’t mean all industries suffer from the negative effects.

When the economy slips into a recession, most industries are rocked by the effects, as consumers typically restrict their spending or set more stringent budget priorities, leading to a trickle effect that impacts almost every business.

Of course, not every industry is sent into a tailspin by a recession. In fact, some have been termed “recession-resistant.” Typically, their services are either undeniable needs for the general public or help give people a sense of peace in unstable times, like medical services or entertainment.

For certain sectors, a recession can mean business as usual — or even increased economic stability. If you’re concerned about the possibility of a future recession and how it will affect your career, it may be worthwhile to explore other fields that are known to provide financial security.

Below, we’ve rounded up six recession-proof industries and careers to consider during an economic downturn.

Health Care

Health care is, understandably, one of the most stable industries in the U.S. Regardless of what’s going on in the markets, people will inevitably need health care, whether they’re experiencing a medical emergency, treating an ongoing illness or just scheduling their yearly check-ups.

There are a multitude of sectors within health care itself, including nursing, physical therapy, mental health services, nutrition and more. Plus, you don’t always have to attend medical school to pursue positions in medical facilities, hospitals or personal practices — they need emergency planners, supervisors, accountants, lawyers and administrative roles to run smoothly like any other business.

USC offers multiple online master’s degrees in health and medicine, including a Master of Science in Nursing, which trains students to become family nurse practitioners, and a Master of Public Health, which helps graduates maximize their influence on the world of public health and health care.


Similarly, working for the government often provides a layer of protection against financial ups and downs, especially at the federal level. Unlike private companies, the government will never go out of business, and it needs plenty of employees to function properly and efficiently.

While a job in politics might be ideal, there are all kinds of government positions that don’t require a deep, comprehensive understanding of politics and the law. Consider looking into the various federal departments, like the Department of Transportation or the Department of Education, for example.

If you’re considering a pivot to the public sector, the online Master of Public Administration (MPA) from USC Price School of Public Policy equips students with solid analytical, management and policy-making skills to thrive in a plethora of public administration roles, whether that’s in government, education, consulting or the nonprofit space.


Education is yet another field that weathers recession, as K-12 schools, colleges and universities are vital pillars of our society, and they need to be staffed with effective, devoted employees.

Becoming a teacher, principal, professor, counselor or any other type of education staff member not only provides you with financial stability, but it also allows you to make a lasting impact on students’ lives.

Universities in particular tend to do well in recessions, as many people decide to make career changes during periods of high layoffs, heading back to school to receive the training they need to obtain a position in what they hope will be a more stable industry.

USC Rossier School of Education offers several online degrees in the field, such as the Master of Arts in Teaching, which trains aspiring K-12 teachers to improve student outcomes in their communities, and the Master of Education in Enrollment Management and Policy, which prepares students to lead initiatives in admission, enrollment, financial aid, orientation, student retention and strategic enrollment planning at colleges, universities and private preparatory schools.

Computer and Information Technology

As one of the fastest-growing fields in the U.S., computer and information technology roles are expected to increase 15 percent in the next decade, much faster than the average for all other occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Even during times of financial woe, consumers depend on the internet and other technological tools to go about their day-to-day lives, making the field a safe bet for anyone looking to switch careers. Positions such as software engineers, designers, coders, IT consultants and the like will always be in high demand, and there are various emerging opportunities for those interested in creating and supporting computer applications, systems and networks.

The USC Viterbi School of Engineering offers numerous master’s degrees (offered both in-person and online via DEN@Viterbi) in computer science, data science and cyber security engineering, including the Master of Science in Computer Science (Software Engineering), which provides students with the skills necessary for non-outsourceable careers and for leadership in software engineering.


A career in law has historically been a safe bet, as legal battles inevitably wage on throughout recessions. In fact, when money is in question, there may be a heightened demand for lawyers and legal expertise, whether it’s to settle debts, handle an employee issue or address types of financial misdeeds.

Law is also intertwined with almost every industry, so even if one sector is hit harder than others, you can still seek a legal position in a field that’s more secure.

Attending law school is a direct path to becoming a practicing attorney, but there are other degrees to secure legal-adjacent positions — like compliance officers or human resource employees — in fields such as business, entertainment, finance, health care and more.

The USC Gould School of Law offers an online Master of Studies of Law (MSL), as well as eight graduate certificates in specialized areas, to help you accomplish exactly that.

Social Work

Social work isn’t just a rewarding field where you can make a positive impact on your community — it’s also a wise option when it comes to job stability. Social work, much like health care, government or law, is necessary no matter the economic condition of the country or world at large.

A recession likely won’t change the need for skilled and compassionate social workers, and in some instances, social workers may become even more crucial as people cope with financial and other recession-related issues. Roles in the field are also expected to grow 9 percent in the next 10 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, students can earn a Master of Social Work (MSW) as well as a Social Work Administration Certificate online, which prepares them to support a range of fields, including family counseling, mental health, and military and community advocacy.

Of course, keep in mind that it’s difficult to predict with absolute certainty which fields will remain “recession-proof.” There can be exceptions, and depending on the circumstances, a job that seems secure may not work out, while a riskier field might be the most stable option for your career path.

Although you should always consider an industry’s viability when contemplating your next career move, it shouldn’t be the only factor you consider.

 Explore the rest of USC’s online graduate programs today.