Here’s One Career That Actually Did Well During the Great Recession

The Great Recession crippled the U.S. economy, putting nearly one-in-10 Americans out of work.

But there was one career that thrived during the downturn: nursing.

Between 2007 and 2010, employment for nurses grew 7.6%, while the number of jobs throughout the entire economy tumbled 5.4%. In fact, since as far back as 2002, there have been about 50,000 new nursing jobs created every year, according to a new study released by by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics this week.

Not only that, but hourly pay also jumped 8.4% to $32.56 an hour. Now you probably see why health care jobs keep popping up as some of the best careers to pursue in the next decade, even if you want to work part time.

That’s a lot more handy than the annual free Chipotle day.

BLS researchers concluded another recession is inevitably on the way, and that with an aging population in the United States, demand for registered nurses will only continue to grow.

How Nursing Jobs Can Help You Survive the Next Recession

Unlike a lot of health care jobs we’ve talked about in the past, to become a registered nurse you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, according to a BLS summary of the profession. (This study just looked at registered nurses.)

But with a median annual salary of $68,450 and the number of jobs in this career expected to expand 16% by 2024 — more than double the average increase for all jobs — it’s worth it to consider the investment.

Niche has compiled a list of the best colleges in the U.S. for nurses. You can use the slider on the left to adjust the maximum amount you want to spend on a four-year degree.

Still, there are other nursing careers that don’t require a bachelor’s degree. Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) make about $26,590 annually, and demand for this job will is slated to increase 17% by 2024. Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) earn roughly $44,000 per year and jobs are expected to grow 16% over the next seven years.

Seriously, how can you pass up a recession-proof career where you can also make such a difference? We’re finding it pretty dang difficult.

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder.