It's safe to say that the current job market is in the pits.
Since the recession began in December 2007, 4.4 million jobs have been lost; more than half of that decline occurred between November 2008 and February 2009, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* Additionally, there are 12.5 million unemployed people and the unemployment rate was 8.1 percent in February 2009. Also in that month, employment declined in nearly all major industries.
The only industry to add jobs in February was health care, with a gain of 27,000 jobs. Job growth occurred in ambulatory health care and in hospitals, adding 16,000 and 7,000 jobs, respectively, according to the BLS.
While there doesn't seem to be much certainty about the economy, there is one fact that remains true no matter what: Certain industries are recession-resistant.
"Some jobs are recession-proof because they provide goods or services that are essential to everyday life," says Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D., author of "150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs." "Other recession-proof jobs protect us from harm and make the justice system work."
For example, Shatkin cites water and liquid waste treatment plant operators as a recession-proof job because "even in the most dire economic times, people need to drink, wash and flush."
While nobody's job is 100 percent secure, plenty of jobs and industries are somewhat resilient. For boosted job security, Shatkin suggests looking for work not only in a recession-resistant occupation, but also within a recession-resistant industry.
For instance, he says that people tend to forget that the education industry employs many people who aren't teachers; health care employs workers who never come near a patient; and the high-tech industry employs many people who aren't engineers or technicians.
If you're looking for a new job, focus your efforts on the following areas and you might increase your odds of landing a great position.
1. Registered nurse
Resistant reason: Nurses are always in demand, recession or not. People will continue to get sick and seek medical attention no matter what the state of the economy, which ought to give RNs sound job security.
Training needed: A bachelor's or associate degree in nursing, plus completion of an approved nursing program. RNs must also complete a national licensing examination to obtain a nursing license. Further training or education qualifies nurses to work in specialty areas.
Growth through 2016*: 23.5 percent
2. Public relations specialist
Resistant reason: As advertising budgets are sliced and other marketing efforts are nixed to cut costs, many companies will rely solely on their public relations departments to promote the company brand. Additionally, as rumors spread about layoffs, bailouts and bankruptcy, PR specialists are needed more than ever to put out these fires along the way.
Training needed: A college degree in a communications-related field like journalism or advertising is helpful, though not necessary. If you lack a degree, employers will look for demonstrated communication skills.
Growth through 2016: 18 percent
3. Teacher, post-secondary
Resistant reason: Since it's becoming harder to score a job, people are riding out the recession by going back to school. Furthermore, workers and job seekers alike are earning higher education to increase their marketability in the work force.
Training needed: Training varies based on the subject you teach and where you teach it. Four-year colleges and universities, however, usually require candidates to hold a doctoral degree for full-time, tenure-track positions.
Growth through 2016: 23 percent
4. Police officer
Resistant reason: First, police officers are employed by the government, which definitely doesn't hurt job security. Second, the sad fact is that crime happens every day and the economy isn't helping. Desperate times call for desperate measures, which for some people include stealing and other offenses -- in some areas, police officers are busier than ever.
Training needed: Law enforcement agencies encourage applicants to take courses or training related to law enforcement subjects after high school. Candidates must be U.S. citizens, usually at least 20 years old, and must meet rigorous physical and personal qualifications.
Growth through 2016: 11 percent
5. Insurance sales agent
Resistant reason: Though many Americans are on a tight budget, people are generally willing to spend money on the big stuff, such as coverage for natural disasters, health-care expenses and automobile accidents. With so many people losing their jobs -- leaving them uninsured as a result -- insurance sales agents have a larger client pool to work with.
Training needed: You have to have a state license to sell insurance; requirements vary by state, but generally require insurance-related course work and passing several exams. A college degree is not required, but is strongly encouraged.
Growth through 2016: 13 percent
6. Pharmacy technician
Resistant reason: As the population ages, people probably will need more medication, as do the many people suffering from depression and anxiety as a result of the recession. Plus, many people have health-care coverage of some kind, even with the downturn, which makes it possible for people to continue to pay for medications.
Training needed: Most are trained on the job, but employers prefer applicants who have formal training, certification or previous experience.
Growth through 2016: 32 percent
7. Funeral director
Resistant reason: Death is a fact of life. No matter what the economy does, people will continue to pass away and families will continue to grieve while seeking assistance to plan services for their loved ones.
Training needed: Every state requires that funeral directors are licensed. State licensing laws vary, but most require you to be 21 years old, have two years of formal education, serve a one-year apprenticeship and pass an examination.
Growth through 2016: 12 percent
8. Environmental science technician
Resistant reason: The Obama administration plans to create 5 million "green" jobs over the next 10 years. Despite a slowing economy, a large percentage of the U.S. work force continues to dedicate itself to the environment.
Training needed: Most environmental science technicians need an associate degree or certificate in applied science or science-related technology. Technicians with a high school diploma and no college degree typically begin work under the direct supervision of an experienced technician and eventually earn a two-year degree in science technology.
Growth through 2016: 28 percent
9. Network systems and data communications analyst
Resistant reason: Many technology-based positions can be performed by outsourcing, but certain technology workers, such as network systems and data communications analysts, must deal with problems onsite.
Training needed: An associate degree or certificate is sufficient, although more advanced positions might require a computer-related bachelor's degree.
Growth through 2016: 53.4 percent
Salary: $40,827 and $71,637, respectively
10. Fast-food worker
Resistant reason: Unfortunately, fast food is all some people can afford these days. While so many other companies saw a decrease in sales and income last year, McDonalds, for example, saw global sales increase 6.9 percent throughout 2008, and its operational income increased 14 percent.
Training needed: No previous training is needed for this position; on-the-job training is provided.
Growth through 2016: 17 percent
*Most recent BLS statistics released on March 6, 2009.
**U.S. national average annual salary according to CBSalary.com
Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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