Recessions are nasty times. Many people suffer economically and even more worry that they might, too. But for a select group of professionals, a recession may actually be an opportunity to thrive and grow. Here are some of them.

Accountants

No matter what the economy is like, both people and businesses have to pay taxes and keep their finances in order. It can be even more important in tougher economic times.

Accountants are likely to experience an increase in business during a recession, since many people and small businesses may require the help of a professional to ensure they're making use of all the tax benefits available to them, and that they have a clear understanding of their income and expenditures as cash flow tightens.

At the very worst, some people may require the services of an accountant if they're forced to file for bankruptcy.

Healthcare Providers

If any industry can be said to be recession-proof, it's healthcare. People will get sick in good times and bad, so the healthcare industry isn't likely to experience the same level of cutbacks or job losses.

Financial Advisors

People who have substantial assets want to ensure that they're well taken care of, especially during a recession. Financial advisors often see an increase in work as people become concerned about the stability of their investments and seek guidance on how to protect their assets.

Auto Repair and Maintenance

In tough economic times, people are less likely to purchase a new car. Instead, they'll repair their old car. Auto repair and maintenance shops rake in the cash during a recession, when people will gladly fork over a few hundred dollars on repairs in order to avoid a monthly payment on a car loan.

Home Maintenance Stores (But Not Builders)

Many people will choose a do-it-yourself home renovation or upgrade rather than consider selling and moving during a recession.

Companies in the business of providing tools and materials for home improvement projects are likely to see an increase during a recession, as will many appliance repair service people.

New home builders, though, do not get in on the action. They are among the worst hit as bank lending gets tighter and home sales slump.

Home Staging Experts

It is more difficult to sell a home during a recession, but some people have to do it. People who specialize in home staging thrive as the housing market becomes increasingly competitive.

Home staging specialists might be real estate agents or interior design professionals, or both. A staging expert increases the appeal of a home by furnishing and decorating it to look its best.

Rental Agents and Property Management Companies

People who may not be able to afford to buy a home during a recession, and people who were forced to sell for financial reasons, still need a place to live. The answer, at least short-term, is a rental.

Rental agents, landlords, and property management companies can thrive during a recession when renting is likely to become a more appealing option, if not the only one available.

Grocery Stores

For many, dining out during a recession starts looking like an extravagance. Supermarkets often see an increase in sales as people choose to cook more meals at home and even entertain their friends at home more often.

Bargain and Discount Stores

People cut back on luxuries during a recession but that doesn't mean they never buy anything that isn't strictly necessary. There's even a tongue-in-cheek economic theory called the Lipstick Index that argues that sales of cosmetics will always rise during bad times because they're a relatively affordable luxury.

That said, a great variety of other cheap thrills can be purchased at bargain and discount stores. People who never step into a dollar store rethink their shopping habits when a recession hits.