10 Best College Degrees for a Recession or Depression Economy

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Updated: March 28, 2024, Reading time: 9 minutes

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With everything happening to the world — inflation and climate change — it’s not impossible that we’ll soon have another economic recession or depression.

Whenever we hear about recession or weak economic conditions in the news or on social media platforms, we develop a great concern for ourselves. A recession means mass layoffs, fewer job postings, and intense competition for the few open positions.

College Degrees for a Recession or Depression Economy - fact

The country’s Bureau of Labor Statistics said the national unemployment rate peaked at 10%, while the local unemployment rate reached 4% during the last recession from 2007 to 2009.

It’s scary to hear about previous recessions, but it’s terrifying to experience it. Everybody avoids losing their job.

Before the next economic downturn arrives, you can start building a recession-proof career path if you are in school or considering acquiring higher education.

College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

The 10 Best College Degrees for a Recession or Depression Economy


Best College Degrees for a Recession or Depression Economy - Accounting

Accounting services are more of a necessity than a luxury, which is why it is immune to economic downturns. Regardless of the state of the economy, people will still need to submit tax returns, and businesses will still need to maintain their books. Not only are accounting obligations frequently inevitable, but they are also ongoing.

Payroll management at a business throughout a quarter does not eliminate the requirement to use the same procedure to manage payroll during the next quarter. As a result, both businesses and people must constantly rely on their accountants.

By earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting, you can work for yourself, the government, the corporate sector, or nonprofit groups. A college degree in this field can help you advance quickly inside a firm.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates an above-average 4% increase in demand for accountants through 2032. Additionally, accountants are required to assist in managing the process of mergers and acquisitions that occur in waves during recessions.


We use computers daily. Cybersecurity is a requirement for businesses of all sizes and types worldwide. A company will fail if it doesn’t have digital protection.

In fact, according to Accenture’s State of Cybersecurity Report 2021, there were an average of 270 cyberattack attempts per organization between 2020 and 2021. In 2021, there were 29 successful attacks against each organization, up from 22 the year before.

Given the market demand, anyone with cybersecurity experience can find abundant job opportunities and suitable employment. The field is expected to have a 32% employment growth from 2022 to 2032, according to federal data.

While a college degree in cybersecurity can help you enter the job market, it would be best to get a variety of college education, such as certifications, specializations, or even an advanced degree. In a competitive employment market, the more credentials you possess, the more you will stand out.


During recession periods, students are not forced to stop studying – they require education in grade school, high school, or college.

Education remains a constant despite economic unrest. If anything, more knowledge is necessary to prepare for the modern world and to recover from an economic downturn.

During economic downturns, positions for professors, school administrators, and teachers are frequently secure. Many colleges and universities closed when COVID-19 swept the nation, although teachers, professors, and school administrators continued to get their salaries.

You’ll have vast job employment opportunities with a bachelor’s degree, a teaching certificate, or advanced degrees. You’ll never be non-essential in the labor force. You can work as a tutor, teaching assistant, college professor, or any other job related to your degree.

Recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data discloses that the field of education is expected to grow by 8% from 2022 to 2032.

But to be more specific, teaching math and science is an excellent alternative for someone searching for a more recession-proof vocation because there is always a shortage in those fields. 


Regardless of the economy’s state, utility workers will be in demand. We always need someone to keep the lights on, the water flowing, and the internet up and running. This employment is mainly in the engineering sector.

Since the 2021 infrastructure bill and the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act have been passed, the country will need engineers, especially those with expertise, more than ever.

The energy industry is expected to grow 33% in the following years and become one of the largest due to the fundamental changes that green initiatives will bring about in many energy-related industries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals a 4% employment growth in the engineering fields from 2022 to 2032

If you’re interested in engineering, you may want to specialize in a highly in-demand engineering field, such as biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering.

While a bachelor’s degree may suffice, you should consider obtaining a master’s degree.


Best College Degrees for a Recession or Depression Economy - Finance

Skilled finance professionals are highly in demand during financial crises, especially during a recession. Businesses will hire college graduates with a background in financial education to help them review budgets and advise them on how to make savings during crises.

Those in financial difficulty require loan officers who can provide assistance or credit counselors who can help them manage their debt.

While it’s true that prominent banks made many layoffs during the recent 2009 recession, there are still enough career opportunities for finance majors if you know where to search. Additionally, those with financial education have a decreased likelihood of bankruptcy.

While a bachelor’s degree in finance is usually the minimum requirement to have a spot in the labor market, a master’s degree will help you grow or offer you a competitive advantage. But occasionally, you can work in finance with just an associate degree.

Health Care Administration

When an impending economic slump is suspected, the healthcare industry has traditionally been seen as a defensive sector compared to the larger market.

There were good reasons for this, including the fact that many healthcare services had relatively inelastic demand and were shielded from the effects of trade conflicts on a global scale.

You can still work as a healthcare administrator in the stable healthcare sector if you don’t enjoy dealing with patients directly.

You can get started with a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management. However, since master’s degrees are widespread in this industry, a graduate degree, such as an MBA in healthcare administration, gives you a competitive advantage in the job market.

Information Technology

Best College Degrees for a Recession or Depression Economy - Information Technology

Technology is an evolving market. During the Great Recession of 2007, when several real estate firms had gone bankrupt, tech companies remained strong and resilient.

The IT sector experienced less loss than other sectors. Fortunately, it quickly began to expand. Not all industries were as fortunate.

Businesses rely on technology to reduce their human staff and save overhead costs. Therefore, there is an even higher need for IT expertise during economic downturns.

If you’re worried about expenses, IT is also one of the least expensive degrees. You can obtain an associate degree in a community college. However, a four-year degree will open up additional work prospects.


The legal sector is typically recession-proof because it is a service-based economy. There is always a demand for law professionals in both good and bad economic times, making the legal profession recession-proof. Clients will still have legal needs during an economic downturn; these needs may alter, but they will still exist.

Litigation, intellectual property, restructuring, and bankruptcy are practice areas that will continue to be strong even during a recession. Transactional industries like mergers and acquisitions and private equity activities are most likely to slow.

College students must pass a rigorous examination and educational requirements to practice law. A bachelor’s degree is required to apply to law school. You need to take the LSAT after receiving your bachelor’s degree. After that, you’ll need to apply to law school, acquire a JD, and take the bar exam.


Best College Degrees for a Recession or Depression Economy - Nursing

Although nursing is physically and cognitively demanding, there are many advantages. If the history of economic downturns has taught us anything, nursing is recession-proof. People will get sick no matter how the economy is doing. 

The majority of the United States is experiencing a nursing shortage. Therefore, those interested in a nursing degree will probably find many employment prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is expected to grow by 6% from 2022 to 2032.

While most nurses hold a bachelor of science in nursing and are registered nurses (RNs), becoming a certified practical or vocational nurse requires a two-year degree and passing a licensing exam. You can develop your career and become a nurse practitioner with a master’s degree.

Social Work

A bad economy rarely reduces social problems; on the contrary, it frequently has the opposite effect. People during a recession need social care, such as those with poor health and those in financial distress, which the global financial crisis has not lessened.

Social work is one of the few solid career possibilities available to people living in the US today because of this.

With a social work degree, you can work as a social worker and in the mental health field as a therapist or counselor, among other positions.

Most people with this major will need to add a master’s degree to their CVs before they qualify for the great majority of mental health job vacancies. However, some employment in this sector is open to those with only a bachelor’s degree.

Should I attend graduate school in a downturn?

Going to graduate school has a low opportunity cost during a recession, which means you’re less likely to pass up job prospects in favor of going back to school.

The best time to obtain a good return on your investment may be right now if you’ve been thinking about attending graduate school as part of your plans.

Recession graduates earned less than those who obtained a degree before the economic downturn. Furthermore, students who leave school during a recession have a significantly higher risk of death from a drug overdose.

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