5 jobs that will never go away

Everyone knows someone who has been impacted by the economic woes of the last several years. While economists note that the true recession technically ended in 2009, its effects linger and many economists' forecasts remain bleak. In this environment, it is only natural to fear for your own career, especially if you have already joined the unemployment line.

"I think we are all looking for recession-proof careers, although there is no safe job," says Elizabeth Lions, career coach and author of the book "Recession-Proof Yourself." "All jobs are subject to layoffs, changes and promotions."

Still, Lions notes there are always exceptions; some fields tend to weather economic storms better than others. Investing in these fields may give you a much-needed edge over career competition.

Top 5 recession-proof careers: Safeguard your future

1. Fire safety

Whatever happens on Wall Street, people will always need first responders to protect and care for them. Firefighters, who often double as paramedics, are especially important.

"Our aging population is unhealthier, partly due to obesity related health issues," says Karen Facey, fire marshal for New Milford Conn., who notes that aging baby boomers and declining national health drive demand for first responders.

By the numbers: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, positions among firefighters are expected to grow by 19 percent in the decade preceding 2018. They earned a median annual salary of $45,250 in 2010.

The training: While most fire departments will train firefighters, the BLS reports that those who have earned fire safety degrees or paramedic certification may fare best.

2. Security management

Crime and unemployment rates go hand in hand: The New York Times reports that every recession since the late 1950s has been linked to crime spikes. According to Philip Farina, certified protection professional and author of "Antiterrorism Careers," this trend benefits security professionals.

"Security and safety are one of those areas that will continue to grow despite harsh economic conditions," says Farina. "As crime and terrorism increase during the stages of financial duress, employers must then address those vulnerabilities by hiring the right professionals to mitigate those threats."

By the numbers: The BLS projects that demand for security professionals will increase by 14 percent in the decade ending in 2018. While the BLS notes that the average median salary for private security guards was $23,920 in 2010, Salary.com reports that security directors earned a more robust $115,076 in 2011.

The training: "A degree can be a common denominator in selecting candidates for a management position, however, certifications are looked upon highly and are gaining larger acceptance," says Farina.

3. Environmental engineering

There is a reason the U.S. Department of Labor allotted millions toward its Green Jobs Initiative Fund: Many leading policymakers believe green innovation can improve American competitiveness, providing some economic relief in difficult times. This initiative provides some job security for many types of engineers, including environmental engineers.

"Green jobs such as wind generation to solar panels to electric cars will be big as we draw our awareness to our energetic consumption and look for alternative ways to heat and cool our homes and run our cars," says Lions.

By the numbers: The BLS projects that positions among environmental engineers will grow by 31 percent in the decade preceding 2018. They earned a median annual salary of $78,740 in 2010.

The training: A bachelor's degree in environmental engineering can get you in the door, but a master's degree or more can ramp up your earnings potential and job security, especially in research and development.

4. Information technology

Employers know computers can boost productivity while curbing cost, which is precisely what bolsters information technology careers despite economic fluctuations. BLS data shows that computer professionals in a variety of capacities are enjoying strong growth, but especially computer networking pros.

By the numbers: The BLS reports that demand for computer network, systems and database administrators is expected to grow by 30 percent between 2008 and 2018. They earned a median annual salary of $69,160 in 2010, though top earners exceeded $100,000.

The training: Though many employers prefer to hire candidates with bachelor's degrees or higher, the BLS notes that associate degrees coupled with professional certifications and experience will often suffice.

5. Biomedical engineering

Biomedical engineering remains one of the fastest growing industries in the country despite recent economic woes. According to the BLS, an aging population coupled with increased demand for more cost-effective medical equipment and procedures drives demand.

"Baby boomers who have a lot of the money will spend money on medical procedures and aids," says Lions, who points to the success the drug Viagra as an indication of sustained demand.

By the numbers: The BLS predicts that positions among biomedical engineers will grow by an impressive 72 percent in the decade preceding 2018. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $81,540 in 2010.

The training: A bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering is a good start, but the BLS notes that many biomedical engineers, particularly those employed in research laboratories, must earn master's degrees or higher.

Protect your job while you can

Some fields may fare better than others in difficult economic times, but even successful companies have been known to sift their ranks to limit cost overall. That means that every worker--whatever the industry--should take steps to protect themselves from job loss.

"The person makes the job recession proof, not always the field," says Lions, who notes that visibility in the workplace is just as important as productivity. "Many have survived recession by being a positive influence."

Investing in continuing education is another way to improve your employee stock within your company, not to mention make yourself more marketable should you ever lose your position.

For those who have already been laid off, Lions recommends finding another job as soon as possible--even in an undesirable field--to prevent resume gaps. "Show (employers) that you are resilient and flexible."

Most importantly, try to remain positive.

"(I have) in my office as sign (that reads), in red, 'Stay Calm and Keep Moving'," says Lions. "That mindset is how we will get out of this recession. Pull (yourself) up by your boot straps, look for the good and keep going."

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