By Margaret Hansen
Although no job is completely secure from being cut, some job types are less risky due to their sheer numbers and the inability for organizations to function without them. Here are some examples of such jobs, their pros and cons, and some regional pay data* from the top job categories on our sites.
Social Worker (MSW)
Average Regional Pay: $42,444
Pros: In addition to offering a caring work environment and personally rewarding opportunities to help others, many of the larger non-profits also provide an extensive benefits package to those in this field. Benefits often include wellness programs, generous retirement contributions, and insurance for the entire family at decent group rates.
Cons: There is a risk of burn-out. A person in this position needs to be compassionate yet professional, drawing clear boundary lines - often in emotionally difficult circumstances.
Average Regional Pay: $33,138
Pros: As an admin, your skills could apply to any type of organization, making this job particularly recession-proof and transferable. Many required skills could transfer to other business jobs as well.
Cons: Moving up could mean moving out of the profession, depending on the workplace and how many admin positions exist at a company.
Outside Sales Representative
Average Regional Pay: $61,611 (includes commission)
Pros: Not only does the ability to close a sale apply to any industry, there is also the potential to earn a significant income, based on your own performance. The gift to sell can allow you to essentially "write your own paycheck."
Cons: Even though you need to be an outgoing, "people" person who persuades others, succeeding in sales is all about the numbers. You could have had 50 amazing conversations this month, but if you didn't close any of the sales, you don't get the commission pay.
Senior Customer Service Representative
Average Regional Pay: $15.29 per hour
Pros: Large growing companies often use their call center as a training ground for future promotion. Many companies offer career ladders so that employees can obtain senior CS positions. Customer service skills can be applied to most any business job, even those that don't involve dealing directly with external customers.
Cons: Unless you have a thick skin, a tough customer could ruin your day and make it difficult for you to get your job done if you let it. Customer service is an art form that not everyone can master.
Average Regional Pay: $27 per hour
Pros: Since registered nurses are sought after in many markets, particularly at hospitals, you can often choose from a variety of hours, schedules and specialties. Undesirable schedules (i.e. overnights) often entice nurses with handsome bonuses at the end of an agreed-upon period. The sky's the limit for career development, special training and choosing which direction or specialty you wish to move toward.
Cons: Long shifts on your feet with demanding patients make for a tired person. Physical and mental burnout can happen if you don't pace yourself and stay healthy.
Personal Support Aide
Average Regional Pay: $10.53 per hour
Pros: Full training is often provided if you are a caring and reputable person (background check is required). Excellent benefits are often available to part-timers, including certification, differential pay, retirement, flexible schedules and training to move up. Rewarding jobs exist where you can directly help a person stay in their home and it's a good entry-level experience.
Cons: It can be difficult to find full-time work and the pay is low.
CAD and GIS Technician
Average Regional Pay: $38,945
Pros: You'll typically have access to continuous education and training that applies to your industry and technologies, which translates to pay increases. Real-world experience can replace some degree requirements.
Cons: You must be technically savvy, yet creative enough to find new ways of improving a product or process. It can be tedious for the wrong person.
Special Education Teacher
Average Regional Pay: $41,181
Pros: Many State scholarships are available to those pursuing a degree in Special Education, helping to alleviate student loan debt. If you are patient, understanding and open to learning, rewarding and challenging work await you in this field. Many school districts have a shortage of Special Ed teachers and thus are willing to pay more in some situations.
Cons: You can burn out if you let yourself get overworked or overwhelmed. Setting appropriate expectations for yourself and your students is critical to long-term teaching success.
*Salary data based on five years of experience, averaging salaries across Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island. Source: PayScale.com.