20 careers with the most job security right now

Stable jobs during a time of uncertainty

This past year has been a roller coaster for American workers with millions filing for unemployment at least temporarily and others seeing their hours cut. While the tourism and hospitality industries have been hit especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, the news is better in sectors such as health care and technology.

Indeed, many of the most secure jobs right now are in these two industries. Health care is always in demand, and it is especially important in the midst of a pandemic. Meanwhile, many technology professionals found they could easily transfer their work from their office to their home.

Based on the U.S. News Best Jobs ranking and our analysis, we think the following occupations are among the most stable careers this year.

Physician Assistant

Median Salary: $112,260
Education Required: Master’s degree

Even before the coronavirus outbreak hit, many parts of the country were facing a shortage of medical workers. California, for instance, will have a shortage of 4,100 primary care providers by 2030, according to a 2019 report from the California Future Health Workforce Commission. Physician assistants, who have advanced training but not a medical degree, are among the professionals needed to fill gaps when there are not enough doctors. This isn’t just a stable career — it’s the top job in the country according to the U.S. News Best Jobs of 2021 ranking.

Learn more about physician assistants.

Software Developer

Median Salary: $107,510
Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Software developers already have excellent job prospects, and the occupation ranks as the top technology career in the country, according to the Best Jobs ranking. The pandemic didn’t do much to slow down their work either, since software developers don’t have to be in an office to design and test programs. What’s more, workers could be in even more demand as businesses move online and cloud computing companies adjust services to meet the needs of a burgeoning remote workforce.

Learn more about software developers.

Nurse Practitioner

Median Salary: $109,820
Education Required: Master’s degree

Nurse practitioners have another health care job that is in high demand. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, nurse practitioners in 22 states and the District of Columbia were authorized to provide independent, direct care to patients. Since then, states such as New York and New Jersey have also expanded the ability of these professionals to provide frontline care, a move that will likely open up new job opportunities for these workers.

Learn more about nurse practitioners.

Physician

Median Salary: $206,500
Education Required: Professional degree

The U.S. is expected to have a shortfall of as many as 139,000 physicians by 2033, according to a 2020 report from the Association of American Medical Colleges. That number includes both primary care physicians and specialists. While becoming a physician requires a significant investment in college and medical school, it should pay off with a job that provides good income and a stable future.

Learn more about physicians.

Speech-Language Pathologist

Median Salary: $79,120
Education Required: Master’s degree

Speech-language pathologists are expected to see 25% job growth through 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The coronavirus shouldn’t impact the need for these professionals, although workers may have had to adjust how they’ve delivered services in the past year. Four in 10 pathologists work in the educational services sector, and when classes were out of session, speech-language therapy may have occurred via telemedicine visits rather than in person.

Learn more about speech-language pathologists.

Veterinarian

Median Salary: $95,460
Education Required: Professional degree

As people stayed home during the pandemic, many chose to add four-legged friends to their families. Pet adoptions at rescues and shelters were up 15% in 2020, according to data from the nonprofit Shelter Animals Count. These animals will continue to need regular and emergency care long after the pandemic is over, and job prospects should be good for veterinarians both now and in the future.

Learn more about veterinarians.

IT Manager

Median Salary: $146,360
Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

IT managers can earn six-figure salaries with only a bachelor’s degree, and that’s just one perk of this profession. The field boasts low unemployment and strong future growth, making this a good option for anyone seeking stable jobs. IT managers are often responsible for overseeing a team of workers, making recommendations to improve efficiency and ensuring an organization’s technical goals are met.

Learn more about IT managers.

Physical Therapy Assistant

Median Salary: $58,790
Education Required: Associate degree

As the U.S. population ages and chronic health conditions become more common, physical therapy assistants have an occupation that will be in demand in the years to come. Job growth for the field is expected to be 33% from 2019-2029, according to the BLS. Physical therapy assistants work under the direction of physical therapists to help patients perform exercises and learn to use adaptive devices.

Learn more about physical therapy assistants.

Anesthesiologist

Median Salary: $208,000
Education Required: Professional degree

As highly trained medical professionals, anesthesiologists administer general or regional anesthesia that ensures patients don’t feel pain during surgery or other procedures. These workers are well-compensated, and there is practically no unemployment within the profession. Although this can be a high-stress position, anesthesiologists have one of the most secure jobs available.

Learn more about anesthesiologists.

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor

Median Salary: $46,240
Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Some experts warn that the stress and social isolation caused by the coronavirus could lead to a wave of substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are at the forefront of helping people get through these difficult times. Although face-to-face counseling sessions were not possible in much of the country last year, these professionals never stopped working. Instead, they consulted with patients through telemedicine portals or mental health hotlines when in-person sessions were restricted by government mandates.

Learn more about substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors.

Occupational Therapist

Median Salary: $84,950
Education Required: Master’s degree

Occupational therapists specialize in helping people recover from illnesses or injuries. They may also work with individuals with disabilities. By using exercises or introducing adaptive equipment, therapists help patients learn how to perform tasks required for everyday life. It’s a career that saw strong growth even before the start of the pandemic, and these jobs can be both personally and professionally rewarding.

Learn more about occupational therapists.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Median Salary: $49,610
Education Required: Master’s degree

Being together 24/7 can cause strained relationships in families, and some lawyers expect an uptick in divorces as a result of stay-at-home orders. In the meantime, couples may turn to marriage and family therapists to help address marital issues or work out problems with their children. Even when it’s not possible to meet face-to-face with therapists, sessions can occur remotely via telemedicine or video conferencing portals.

Learn more about marriage and family therapists.

Physical Therapist

Median Salary: $89,440
Education Required: Doctoral degree

Throughout the pandemic, many physical therapists continued to make house visits to patients who are recovering from surgery, illness or injury. Clinics were also open and providing services to those in need of rehabilitation. As life returns to normal, these professionals will continue to be in strong demand, and the BLS estimates the country will add about 47,000 physical therapy jobs from 2019-2029.

Learn more about physical therapists.

Orthotist and Prosthetist

Median Salary: $68,410
Education Required: Master’s degree

Orthotists and prosthetists help people become more independent by designing, creating and fitting patients with artificial limbs and supportive devices such as leg braces. It’s a career choice that boasts nearly zero unemployment, low stress and a good work-life balance. These professionals should also enjoy nearly 17% job growth from 2019-2029.

Learn more about orthotists and prosthetists.

Mechanical Engineer

Median Salary: $88,430
Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Not all stable jobs are in the field of medicine. Mechanical engineers have another occupation that has low unemployment and good prospects for future growth. Companies across a variety of industries rely on these professionals to design and create the next generation of equipment. Mechanical engineers may work in robotics, automotive research or alternative energy, among other specialties.

Learn more about mechanical engineers.

Cartographer

Median Salary: $65,470
Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Cartographers, who are mapmakers, sound like they have an old-school occupation. However, their job is decidedly high tech. They may use a variety of imaging tools to create digital, online and interactive maps. As websites and apps increasingly include mapping features, cartographers should see continued demand. Not only is this career one with low unemployment, but it is also scores low for stress and high for work-life balance.

Learn more about cartographers.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Median Salary: $74,320
Education Required: Associate degree

Not every good-paying job requires a four-year degree. Diagnostic medical sonographers earn above-average incomes, and the standard education in the field is an associate degree. These professionals are often known as ultrasound technicians, but jobs in this field aren’t limited to obstetrics. In addition to providing images of unborn babies, they may use medical equipment to produce images of organs and other body parts. Those images are then used in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.

Learn more about diagnostic medical sonographers.

Phlebotomist

Median Salary: $35,510
Education Required: Postsecondary non-degree award

With rock-bottom unemployment and strong job growth projections, becoming a phlebotomist is another option for those seeking stable careers. This job is not for anyone squeamish about blood though. Phlebotomists draw blood from patients for lab work. They are responsible for maintaining sterile equipment and labeling specimens for analysis. Beyond having technical skills, phlebotomists need to enjoy working with people since their job also involves calming and reassuring those who are scared of needles.

Learn more about phlebotomists.

Surgeon

Median Salary: $208,000
Education Required: Professional degree

To a certain extent, surgeons have built-in job security thanks to their extensive training and specialized skills. Not just anyone can be a surgeon. These medical workers spend years in medical school and complete a residency before they are able to complete invasive procedures intended to treat or heal patients who have an illness, disability or other medical condition.

Learn more about surgeons.

Chiropractor

Median Salary: $70,340
Education Required: Doctorate

Chiropractors are medical professionals who specialize in treating the neuromusculoskeletal system. They may analyze a patient’s posture and reflexes, adjust their spine and recommend exercise or lifestyle changes to prevent future problems. Chiropractors enjoy low unemployment, a healthy work-life balance and strong job prospects.

Learn more about chiropractors.

Most stable careers for 2021:

— Physician Assistant.

— Software Developer.

— Nurse Practitioner.

— Physician.

— Speech-Language Pathologist.

— Veterinarian.

— IT Manager.

— Physical Therapist Assistant.

— Anesthesiologist.

— Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor.

— Occupational Therapist.

— Marriage and Family Therapist.

— Physical Therapist.

— Orthotist and Prosthetist.

— Mechanical Engineer.

— Cartographer.

— Diagnostic Medical Sonographer.

— Phlebotomist.

— Surgeon.

— Chiropractor.

More from U.S. News

25 Best Jobs That Pay $100K or More

The 25 Best Jobs of 2021

20 Best Jobs You’ve Never Heard Of

20 Careers With the Most Job Security Right Now originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 05/20/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up