Work is essential to our lives, and if we’re lucky, we love what we do. But sometimes, our ability to work is compromised through no fault of our own. Job security is a real concern for many — and with good reason. After all, our livelihood often depends on it.
What does it mean to have job security?
Job security is the assurance that someone will be able to retain her job with minimal fear of unemployment resulting from layoffs or other means of termination and dismissals. Many people seek jobs that they believe have higher job security so they don’t have to fear losing a steady stream of income.
What careers have job security?
What is the most secure job? No one can ever have complete assurance that they won’t lose their job to layoffs or other circumstances, unless, of course, they’re self-employed — but that comes with its own set of risks and anxieties. However, there are some roles that are considered more secure than others.
Based on unemployment-rate data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 24/7 Wall St. developed a list of the jobs with the highest and lowest job security. Below, we’ve listed the top 32 in each category.
Jobs with the most security
1. Appraisers and assessors of real estate
2. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers
4. Court, municipal, and license clerks
5. Computer network architects
6. Aerospace engineers
8. Physicians and surgeons
10. Precision instrument and equipment repairers
11. Postal service clerks
12. Opticians, dispensing
13. Database administrators
14. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists
15. Dental hygienists
16. Police and sheriff’s patrol officers
17. Budget analysts
18. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
19. Aircraft mechanics and service technicians
20. Speech-language pathologists
21. Reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks
22. Financial analysts
23. Directors, religious activities and education
24. Personal financial advisors
25. Medical and health services managers
27. Insurance underwriters
28. First-line supervisors of personal service workers
29. First-line supervisors of housekeeping and janitorial workers
30. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
32. Civil engineers
Jobs with the least security
3. Graders and sorters, agricultural products
5. Packers and packagers, hand
6. Miscellaneous agricultural workers
7. Counter attendants, cafeteria, food concession and coffee shop
8. Farming, fishing and forestry occupations
9. Tour and travel guides
10. Brickmasons, blockmasons and stonemasons
11. Weighers, measurers, checkers, and samplers, recordkeeping
12. Construction laborers
13. Packaging and filling machine operators and tenders
14. Miscellaneous entertainment attendants and related workers
15. Lifeguards and other recreational, and all other protective service workers
16. Tax preparers
17. Word processors and typists
18. Structural iron and steel workers
19. Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand
21. Grounds maintenance workers
22. Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food
23. Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators
24. Mail clerks and mail machine operators, except postal service
25. Cement masons, concrete finishers and terrazzo workers
26. Bill and account collectors
27. Painters, construction and maintenance
28. Models, demonstrators, and product promoters
29. Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks
30. Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers
32. Cleaners of vehicles and equipment
How do you ensure security at work?
It’s impossible to completely guarantee job security at work. However, there are some things you can do to make yourself an indispensable employee, decreasing the likelihood that anyone will want to see you go. Even in the unfortunate event that you do face a layoff, you’ll guarantee yourself stellar references, helping you land your next great role.
1. Be proactive.
Bored at work? Don’t have anything pressing to do at the moment? Rather than waiting for someone to bring you an assignment, proactively seek out tasks to complete, even if it’s something that doesn’t fall within the purview of your job description. You’ll make yourself more valuable if you’re consistently contributing.
2. Be a team player.
In the same vein, collaborate with and help your coworkers. If a colleague appears to be struggling, you’ll prove that you’re a team player if you pitch in. Focusing on yourself may make it appear as though you don’t care about the company goals, just your own. (Of course, you should neglect your own work; just pitch in when you can.)
3. Hone your communication skills.
Knowing how to effectively communicate with your boss, coworkers and clients will help you understand the needs of others and better articulate your own needs. You’ll be communicating in-person, by phone and via email and should work on how you voice your thoughts and ideas.
4. Continue to learn new skills and develop current ones.
Think you’ve mastered your role? Impossible. Everyone can learn something new. Take a class, earn a certification and always refresh your skillset. Even if you have the knowledge to do your job now, roles are constantly evolving and changing, and you need to keep up with the times in order to protect your job. Plus, you’ll be able to grow in your role and discover new possibilities (such as promotions) by learning. And if you can gain a specialized skill that not many people have, all the better — you’ll be making yourself more invaluable to your employer.
5. Stay on top of deadlines.
Do your best to complete every assignment on time. Using an organizational method such as an app or calendar can help you ensure that you never miss a deadline. Try to start projects early in case you encounter obstacles so you can figure out a solution before the last minute.
6. Network, network, network.
You have a job now, but you never know what’s going to happen in the future. Maintaining a solid professional network will help ensure that if the worst happens, you’ll have other people to turn to for help finding new opportunities. You may even discover even better possibilities this way when you’re not actively looking.
7. Speak up.
Have a great idea? Share it. You won’t get far being too intimidated to voice your opinion or share your concern. And your idea may be a game-changer.
8. Know your worth.
It sounds cliche to say “believe in yourself,” but the fact is, if you don’t recognize your own worth as a professional, nobody else will, either. It’s important to have confidence in yourself beyond your job title and qualifications. That doesn’t mean you won’t get anywhere without healthy self-esteem, but if you have trouble recognizing your worth, fake it until you make it — others will take notice.
Most employees in the United States are at-will, meaning your employer can terminate you for any reason without cause (although there are some exceptions, such as discrimination). This makes job security all the more tenuous for many workers.
If this is a concern for you, you should carefully review your employment contract before you sign anything when you’re hired. If you’ll be an at-will employee, the contract will say so. While this is fairly standard, if you’re not comfortable with the terms, discuss them with your prospective employer and a legal professional to understand what this might mean for your job security.
In 2008, the beginning of the Great Recession, 2.6 million jobs were lost in the United States alone. This was the worst year in terms of job security since 1945 — and as we know, millions more people lost their jobs in the years to come.
A recession is a period of economic decline, and it can affect job security on a global scale. Because of a widespread reduction in spending, businesses generate less revenue and must cut back on staff as a result, leading to often massive layoffs.
Some economists say we’re on the brink of a recession. While no one person can prevent this from taking place, workers should continue to perform optimally, while also taking advantage of new opportunities as they arise, in order to put themselves in the best position possible.