Best Industries for Job Security in 2024
Let’s talk about the best industries for job security.
Times are tough, and they’re going to get tougher.
On the heels of a global pandemic, we experienced global supply chain shortages, runaway inflation, and market crashes. Since then, we’ve been limping along with minor divergences.
On the bright side, though, the job market has been improving. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment spiked at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic to an April 2020 high of 14.7% before rapidly falling to today’s 3.7%—even lower than pre-pandemic levels.
Sure, gas and groceries are more expensive, but a healthy job market keeps the cash coming even if the same salary buys a little less each month.
But not so fast.
Inflationary Impacts on the Best Industries for Job Security
The Federal Reserve is the primary mechanism for fixing inflation, and they only have one tool at its disposal: to raise interest rates. Rates climbed over the past year, and one consequence of higher rates is an increased cost of doing business.
One of the easiest and most dramatic ways of cutting costs is, you guessed it, layoffs and unemployment. Even Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell hints at a recession, which means imminent unemployment: “no one knows whether this process will lead to a recession or, if so, how significant that recession would be.”
Recessions aren’t good news for anyone. For comparison, unemployment capped out at 10% during the last recession. This is more than double today’s rate, and population growth means that the “real number” will be much higher if we get close to 10% again.
Over the past decade, changing cultural, technological, and employment prospects put many industries on a pedestal, but the other shoe is about to drop.
The glut of tech-focused marketing, social media management, and other easily consolidated roles will be reduced soon. Ensuring your position in an industry with high job security is critical in 2022.
Outside of irreplaceable blue-collar jobs, current employees finding themselves uncomfortable at the prospect of higher unemployment are best served by transitioning into a STEM field.
STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and math, are the hard science fields that take expertise and provide enough value that unemployment in the area is unlikely.
To dispel a misconception across the STEM fields at the beginning, remove some cultural STEM associations from your mind:
The science industry isn’t full of wild-haired mad scientists with test tubes and beakers.
The technology field isn’t just IT guys hiding in the back room spying on your email.
Engineering employees aren’t all walking around with their calculators and pocket protectors.
And, most challenging to comprehend, “math” as a job industry isn’t just employment as an eccentric professor or misunderstood janitor.
While these roles certainly exist, there are innumerable primary, support, and auxiliary functions within the field.
And, if the thought of returning to school puts you off, don’t worry—landing a job within the industry as a non-expert can increase your job security, even if you’re not STEM-inclined.
For example, the senior business associate in charge of TikTok outreach at an architectural engineering firm is much more at risk than the same firm’s most junior draftsman. That analogy applies across the STEM domain. Remember, though—the closer you are to the industry’s core, the better.
As science advances, so too do the field’s job prospects. Rapid expansion and specialization of branches within the scientific establishment open new opportunities daily—even new jobs that haven’t existed before.
For example, have you ever heard of “labeling tech?” I hadn’t, but this is just one job inside the science industry that doesn’t need STEM credentialing.
All you need is a high school diploma and fundamental “good employee” soft skills like timeliness and attention to detail, and jobs like this arise every day.
In a downturn, that pharmaceutical labeling tech likely provides more value to the firm than many peers with similar resumes and is much more likely to stay employed.
Tech has been all the rage over the past decade, but technology as a STEM industry isn’t just Meta, Netflix, or even Apple. Think a little bigger.
All the nuts-and-bolts hardware that runs our world is now vital to the status quo.
You can’t have an Internet of Things without the “things” behind it.
Firms exist to conceptualize, create, manufacture, and distribute the niche agricultural soil analyzers, vehicle-to-vehicle communications devices, healthcare sensors, and innumerable tangible products you didn’t know existed… but that run our world.
If we are to maintain something resembling our current quality of life, this hardware will need to be available and evolve. Hence, the technology industry’s roots are deep, and job security high.
Even better? Gain some new skills in the industry, and you can perhaps strike out on your own and have the ultimate job security—self-employment. If that’s too risky, you can always build a side hustle with your expertise and experience and earn extra money freelancing.
Engineering, like technology, underpins our societal functioning. There are many engineering fields and jobs, but one stands out in today’s environment. With a crumbling, degraded, and old national infrastructure, government focus and (more importantly) money is flowing into civil engineering.
Bridges need to be built, dams need to be developed, and electric grids need to be erected. Maybe not the flashiest jobs and tasks, but still vital.
And can you imagine a scenario in which the economy was so bad we couldn’t afford to employ our civil engineers responsible for everything we need to function as a society and state? Pretty unlikely, and if things get that bad, then we have much bigger problems than individual job security to worry about!
I get it—math is boring. But outside of every application of mathematics within the previous three STEM industries, math has very relevant and practical applications in job fields that are highly secure.
Money management, taxes, and accounting are a few concepts that even the most seasoned CEOs and small business owners struggle with on their own. Did you know that as many as 60% of small business owners admit that they aren’t sufficiently knowledgeable about accounting or finance?
These leaders need help, and math-centric financial management services and accounting firms are where they turn. Like infrastructure, money isn’t going anywhere and will likely get more complex as digital currencies and rapid changes to the tax codes take effect. This means those who can interpret the math and data behind these roles are in high demand with no reduction in sight.
Hopefully, you’ve thought hard about your current standing in your company, no matter the field or industry. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but the economy has rapidly declined over the past year, and the chances of a soft landing fall daily.
The national and global economy will doubtlessly bounce back. But in the interim? Do what’s best for you and your family by realistically assessing your strengths, weaknesses, job history, and prospects—then look into a transition into a STEM industry because these are some of the precious few industries with solid job security in 2022 and beyond.