In an uncertain economy, workers face uncertainty in their jobs. Of course, that depends on their chosen career path.
According to Monster.com, the workers most in demand even in a down economy are those who excel in the logical and mathematical, including those in areas such as systems design, electronic engineering, accounting and, yes, finance.
"The demand for accounting and tax professionals is outweighing resources, across the U.S. and in China, the U.K. and Russia," said Eileen Raymond, executive director of experienced-hire recruiting at accounting firm KPMG. "We're looking for CPAs and professionals with advanced degrees, law degrees."
Just as demand is rising for these services, the supply is dwindling.
"There are fewer and fewer students obtaining these degrees," Hope Wilson, a vice president at Snelling Professional Services, told Monster earlier this year.
Similarly, a lack of new engineering graduates is also creating a strong market for engineers, Monster reported.
"Engineers across the board are in high demand, and engineering grads are harder and harder to find," said Theresa Carol, business unit leader for Kelly Engineering Resources.
Monster also points to an annual survey commissioned by staffing firm Manpower that highlights occupations that employers have a hard time filling.
Among white-collar jobs, the following positions make Manpower's 10 Hardest Jobs to Fill list: engineers, technicians, sales reps, accountants and IT staff. And on the blue-collar side, the list includes machinists and machine operators, skilled tradespeople, mechanics, laborers and production operators.
Insurance Provides Job Security
While insurance may not be the most glamorous industry in America, it does offer something many other fields cannot: Namely stability, challenge and growth almost no matter what else is going on in the economy.
"You don't have a lot of college students graduating and saying, 'I want to work in insurance,'" Eric Schulting, enterprise recruiting and retention manager for State Farm Insurance in Bloomington, Ill., told Monster. "But there are a lot of benefits and advantages in insurance that you don't have in other industries."
One of those benefits is that the insurance industry is fairly recession-proof, since Americans need insurance whether the economy is up or down and most insurance companies tend to be fiscally conservative.
And since insurance firms are often mutual companies (meaning they answer to policy holders rather than Wall Street), they can launch sophisticated and aggressive information technology strategies, routinely support safety education and tend to have close ties to their local communities, Schulting added.
The industry is not without challenges. If gas prices rise too high, consumers may decide to own (and insure) fewer cars, and fewer home sales mean fewer homeowners' policies sold. When unemployment rises, so do theft and arson, and, therefore, hazard insurance claims.
Demand Rises In Health Care, Education
Kiplinger.com reported that the health care industry is one of the nation's fastest-growing careers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Teachers, like doctors, are also in high demand. Kiplinger reported that teachers for any grade level who specialize in math, science or bilingual education should have an easier time finding and keeping a job. College instructors also should have job security as college enrollment rises.
Geography also plays a part in job security. Teachers in fast-growing states in the South and West will have more opportunity, the BLS reported.
'Green,' Govt., Delivery Jobs Stay Hot
"Green jobs" are also on the rise. The BLS expects environmental careers to grow 25 percent over the next decade -- much higher than the average for other occupations.
Monster Worldwide data shows a steady increase in the number of environmental job postings since 2005, particularly for engineers, protection technicians and specialists.
This growth has been fueled by economic trends, with many jobs offered in the public sector, including positions at such bureaus as the Environmental Protection Agency.
Government jobs are also among the most stable around. The BLS said that firings and lay-offs happen at one-quarter of the rate in the private sector because even businesses have to downsize the government must continue on. One in every 5,000 non-defense workers is ever fired for poor performance each year, the Cato Institute said.
And even in our digital age, stuff still needs to get from here to there, whether the trip is across the warehouse floor or around the world. That's why jobs for laborers such as freight, stock and materials handlers are projected to increase by almost a quarter of a million positions from 2004 to 2014, according to the BLS. Many of these jobs require few skills but pay $12 to $15 an hour, about double the federal minimum wage.