Not surprisingly, a recession has a big impact on employment. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at the most recent recession's bottom in June of 2009, the unemployment rate spiked at 4.5% higher than at the start of the recession, peaking at 9.5%. But not every industry suffered; in fact, many careers have taken off during this same time period. According to PayScale.com, these careers have actually seen a spike in average salary since 2006.
SEE: 10 Careers With Great Job Prospects
1. Physician Assistant - $87,900
It isn't too surprising to learn that the fastest growing annual salary careers are in the healthcare sector. Physician assistants provide an extension of the services a doctor provides. They are supervised by a physician, but work independently. The degree of independency depends on the agreement. This field has experienced an 8.9% increase in the median annual salary.
2. Physical Therapist - $71,000
Physical therapists, or PTs, work with a wide variety of patients who are experiencing pain or a loss of mobility. They also help prevent injury and work to strengthen particular areas of muscular weakness. This kind of rehabilitation is very common after an injury such as a broken limb or after a car accident, and those who practice it have also seen an increase in their median annual salary of 8.9%.
3. Registered Nurse - $58,000
According to the BLS, registered nurses (RNs) make up the largest healthcare profession with over 2.6 million jobs in the United States. The majority of RN jobs are in hospitals treating patients. RNs generally hold a four-year degree and specialize in a particular area of medicine, such as surgery. This profession has also seen an 8.9% increase in median salary since 2006.
4. Marriage and Family Therapist - $48,900
Maybe it's an increase in financial stress, or the fact that the divorce rate is at 50% in the U.S., but this profession is doing quite well, experiencing an 8.1% salary increase since 2006. Marriage and family therapists assess clients and help them set and achieve goals for their lives.
5. Medical Case Manager - $45,700
Medical case managers, sometimes called case managers or nurse case managers, are healthcare professionals who oversee the treatment and care of patients. These professionals often come from a nursing background, and help to advocate for the patient as well as educate them. This career has seen an 8.1% increase in annual salary in the past six years.
6. Mental Health Counselor - $40,500
As awareness of mental health issues increase, so too does the demand for the professionals able to treat those issues. Those that do have seen an 8.1% increase in their annual salary. These trained professionals counsel families, individuals and couples through a variety of life issues. (For some other options, read 4 Careers That Are Easy To Get Into.)
7. Clinical Research Associate (CRA) - $78,600
As the name suggests, CRAs assist in the design, execution and implementation of clinical trials. According to the Michener Institute, which offers a 16-month certification in this field, CRAs may also assist in conveying findings to the research community. This field has experienced a 7.5% growth in annual salary.
8. Project Manager, Environmental - $57,200
Another job title that has seen a 7.5% spike in salary is the environmental project manager. This growing field oversees bidding on projects, organizing timelines and ensuring the work is completed with minimal risk.
9. Research Associate, Biotechnology - $53,400
A research associate works in a university or in another research setting assisting with projects led by senior advisors. In particular, those working in the biotechnology sector, the study of using living organisms to create or enhance products (such as genetically modified food), have enjoyed a 7.5% increase in median salary.
10. Biomedical Engineer - $73,900
Engineers are often in high demand, and those who specialize in the biomedical field may have noticed the 7.1% spike in salary. Biomedical engineers work on projects that integrate engineering with healthcare. Examples are pacemakers or artificial hearts.
11. Electrical Engineer - $71,900
Another engineering field that has seen a 7.1% increase in salary is electrical engineering. These practitioners design new and improved circuits, according to the BLS. (To learn more, see Top 10 Highest-Paying Jobs For 2011.)
12. Project Manager, Architecture - $51,300
Architectural project managers, like their environmental counterparts, are responsible for overseeing projects from inception to completion. On average, they have also seen a 7.1% jump in annual salary.
13. Software Developer - $72,500
Software developers (or software engineers) design, create, evaluate and troubleshoot computer software. The median annual salary for this field has jumped 6.3% since 2006.
14. Senior Software Engineer - $85,800
Senior software engineers will also perform the duties of a software engineer, but in addition they will delegate such tasks to a team to reach a common goal. The median annual salary for this title has also increased by 6.3%.
15. Web Developer - $54,800
This new media career has also seen a 6.3% growth in salary. Instead of software, these developers are focused on creating and maintaining websites. This may include elements of graphic design as well as coding the functionality of the site.
The Bottom Line
It may still be tough to get a job, but these careers are experiencing growth, and continued to do so through the last major recession. In these fields, pay has gone up by an average of 7.43% in the last six years, so you may want to check into them if you're considering a career change. (For more on jobs, check out 7 Jobs Companies Are Desperate To Fill.)
Salary data is provided by PayScale.com. Hourly rates listed are for workers with five-to-eight years of experience and include any bonuses, commissions or profit-sharing.