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Explore 5 Recession-Proof Careers in Healthcare

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The recession is coming. Inflation is rising along with interest rates, and it’s nearly impossible to turn on the news without hearing promises of a pending economic downturn. Economic instability can be concerning, especially if you’re already barely making ends meet. 

But here’s the truth: The recession is always coming, sooner or later. Downturns are a normal part of the economy. And one of the best ways to protect your long-term financial security is to choose a recession-proof career. 

So what exactly makes a career recession-proof? For starters, it needs to be in high demand and not depend on economic certainty or high earnings. Critical services that don’t stop during economic downturns offer great stability, and healthcare tops the list of these critical services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 13% job growth in healthcare fields between 2021-2031. This trajectory will create about two million jobs — a figure that accounts for the effects of a recession. 

Careers in healthcare take many shapes. You might care directly for patients, oversee a healthcare institution, become a researcher or tackle the emerging mental health crisis. No matter what you’re interested in, there's a career path here for you. A recession is a great time to restart your career, especially if you’ve already been thinking about beginning a new career chapter. Consider these five recession-proof careers in healthcare: 

Physical therapist-1

Physical Therapy Assistant

Physical therapists (PTs) help people recover from injuries, surgery and even childbirth. They work with everyone from newborn babies to elders, and play a vital role in helping people realize their full potential. 

They can’t do it alone, though. Physical therapy assistants earn an excellent living, with average earnings of $60,740 in 2021. This is a great entry-level job with a fast trajectory from enrollment to graduation. You can become a PT assistant at SNU in just 23 months, all while gaining the knowledge you need to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE)

If you’ve ever contemplated becoming a licensed physical therapist, the PT assistant track offers a lower commitment option, allowing you to assess whether this is the career path for you. 

The PT assistant role could be the right choice for you if: 

  • You don’t have a bachelor’s degree. 
  • You’re a people person who wants to help people recover and live better lives. 
  • You’re seeking an entirely new career. 
  • You want a job that opens doors to diverse work settings*

* Graduation from a physical therapist assistant education program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100 Alexandria, VA 22305-3085; phone; 703-706-3245; is necessary for eligibility to sit for the licensure examination, which is required in all states.

Effective October 25, 2022, Southern Nazarene University has been granted Candidate for Accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; phone: 703-706-3245; email: If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call Dr. Loren McElroy, Program Director, at 405.491.6630 or email

Candidate for Accreditation is an accreditation status of affiliation with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education that indicates the program may matriculate students in technical/professional courses. Achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status does not assure that the program will be granted Initial Accreditation.

Healthcare Administrator - woman and nurse talking to a doctor

Healthcare Administrator

As healthcare jobs grow, so does the need for innovative, creative, dynamic healthcare leaders. Health systems are struggling, but quality administrators ensure they continue to serve people and support better public health. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median earnings exceed $100,000, and projected growth is massive — 28% between 2021-2031. This offers significant job security and negotiation leverage. 

SNU’s Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration can jump start your health administration career. And you’ll graduate in as few as 18 months!

This career path could be right for you if: 

  • You’re passionate about health but don’t want to work in a clinical setting. 
  • You’re a great leader — or you want to be one. 
  • You want to shape the future of healthcare. 
  • You haven’t completed your bachelor’s degree.
Physician Assistant - Woman smiling at the camera

Physician Assistant

A career in medicine can be very rewarding.  Working as a physician assistant (PA) allows you to treat patients and improve individual health outcomes while maintaining a strong work-life balance. Physician Assistants diagnose and treat patients in every medical specialty and are a vital member of the healthcare team.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 28% growth in PA jobs between 2021-2031. And with median earnings of $121,530 per year, a PA job could position you to attain a better life for your family. 

SNU’s PA program will prepare you to become certified and eligible for licensure. This program* could be right for you if: 

  • You are looking for a career in medicine. 
  • You want to work directly with patients. 
  • You already have a bachelor’s degree. 
  • You enjoy science and health.

* Southern Nazarene University has applied for Accreditation-Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Southern Nazarene University anticipates matriculating its first class in January 2025, pending achievement of Accreditation-Provisional status at the September 2024 ARC-PA meeting.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding accreditation-provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.
SNU will only matriculate students once the Accreditation-Provisional status is achieved.

Mental health provider

Mental Health Provider

The shortage of mental health providers in the United States is spurring crisis after crisis. Suicide, addiction and overdoses are all rising, and families are left struggling to manage these issues on their own or waiting months to access quality mental health care.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that this shortage will spur 22% growth in the field between 2021-2031, creating millions of jobs. If you’re interested in mental health, a bachelor’s degree can get your foot in the door. 

The population is aging rapidly, forcing many individuals and families to confront decisions about family dynamics, long-term care, personal needs and more. A Family Studies and Gerontology degree puts you ahead of the curve, allowing you to help people navigate their changing lives. It’s a great step on the road to a master’s degree in counseling, but it’s also an excellent entry-level job in its own right. 

If becoming a therapist sounds like the next step on your career ladder, then SNU’s Master of Science in Counseling Psychology could help you begin the climb. Students graduate in as few as 28 months, fully prepared to seek state licensure. 

A mental health career could be right for you if: 

  • You’re the person people always come to with their problems. 
  • You want to help people and learn the skills necessary to do so. 
  • You have plenty of empathy to spare. 
Rehab and Sports science - Man with physician in rehab

Rehabilitation and Sports Science

If you’re passionate about athletics, that passion doesn't have to remain a hobby. A career in rehabilitation and sports science turns your avocation into a career you’ll love. This diverse career path opens doors to various occupations, such as coaches, physiologists, wellness counselors, public health researchers and more. Your earnings depend on where you work and how, but you can count on this career track to open many doors.

Exercise physiologists, for example, can expect 9% career growth between 2021-2031. As more people recognize the value of physical fitness, you can expect your client base to grow and diversify. But physiology is just one of many options in this burgeoning field. 

The Master of Science in Exercise Science is a degree that prepares you to educate people about health, performance and living better lives. The program offers two distinct tracks: 

  • The Health and Human Performance Track prepares students for coaching occupations. 
  • The Health Promotion and Wellness Track equips learners to enter public health and wellness professions. 

This program might be a good fit for you if: 

  • You’re passionate about athletics or human performance. 
  • You love to research. 
  • You want to help people live better, healthier lives. 
  • You’ve already finished your bachelor’s degree. 


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SNU is here to help.

Online learning makes education affordable during a recession. That means you can do more with less money, even if you’ve lost your job or are living paycheck to paycheck. At SNU, we cater to and support adult learners with flexible online programs and degrees you can complete in just one night a week. No matter which path is best for you, we can help you graduate faster with an education that prepares you for your future career. 

If financial issues are deterring you from going back to school, check out “The Complete Guide to Financial Aid” to learn how you can get help paying for education.


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