Some jobs are doing well financially right now compared to the average in the economy. Other professions like dentistry and optometry have approached financial crisis before bouncing back.
We surveyed 3,000 to 4,000 readers of this site on four separate dates to gauge how the pandemic had affected them financially. We chose March 18, April 17, May 15, and August 12, 2020 to gather this data. The population was statistically equivalent in each survey, with similar levels of income, student debt, age, location, and job experience.
We wanted to know how incomes across different professions have changed in response to the Coronavirus pandemic over time.
Even though the jobs below are secure financially compared to most, that doesn’t mean there aren’t people in every profession struggling from loss of income, including the ones I listed.
Overall, incomes took a huge hit from March to April, but compensation started to recover in May.
Our August 2020 data shows incomes have recovered substantially in many professions.
In addition to our ranking, we’ll include comments from readers in each respective career field so you get a feeling for what they’re going through.
We ranked this list according to the following two criteria:
- The percent of each profession that reported unchanged income compared with before Coronavirus. The higher the number, the more workers had financial stability during the pandemic.
- A profession needed to have at least 50 individual responses in the surveys to be considered.
Here’s our list of the most financially secure jobs of the pandemic.
Percent of nurses reporting no change in income compared with before the pandemic, March to August 2020.
- March 18: 83%
- April 17: 64%
- May 15: 69%
- August 12: 71%
- Average with no income change from March to August 2020: 72%
Many nurses in elective fields were quickly let go in April. Many had not yet returned as of August, although it appears we’ve hit the bottom.
One thing to remember is that nurses have a wide variety of job functions. Some might be specialized in specific areas of medicine that have less demand during a pandemic.
Patients have cut back their demand for elective procedures significantly. This demand drop has shown up in lower incomes for nurses.
That said, nursing as a whole did well compared to other occupations, particularly if you were in an area of medicine not subjected to COVID demand drops.
Nursing is rewarding and stable. I took a small pay cut during the pandemic when I had been expecting a significant increase due to reclassification, but at least I am still working and helping.
It’s a frightening experience not having adequate PPEs to protect myself & other healthcare workers. My job became a more stressful environment that has taken a toll on me physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m also scared of exposing my family.
Because elective surgeries are being cut, the hospital is losing money. Therefore, we are losing some hours by being flexed in and out, having to take our hard earned PTO to cover for the time off or no pay if we chose. Our ancillary staff is forced to take time off so the work load is much much harder for us nurses. Our prep time has decreased to really read our patients chart to understand what’s really going on with our patients and it’s just becoming unsafe.
9. Corporate Employee
Percent of corporate employees reporting no change in income compared with before the pandemic, March to August 2020.
- March 18: 83%
- April 17: 74%
- May 15: 71%
- August 12: 72%
- Average with no income change from March to August 2020: 75%
Many small businesses have shut down, but workers at large multinational corporations have a lot more financial stability, according to our survey results.
Zoom allows many meetings to continue virtually. IT workers, project managers, and sales reps can continue most of their work from home.
Disruptions in supply chains and sagging consumer demand seem to be the main headwinds for workers in Corporate America right now. That said, most do not feel the pinch yet.
The Coronavirus panic is affecting my mental health and my stress levels are sky high, which in turn, is affecting my ability to focus on work. Business feels steady (I work for a software company that doctors use), but how long will we be okay for and how long do we need to be okay for?
I am fortunate that I have a job where I can work remotely with little disruption. (I am a Senior Project Manager for a development company). So at the moment, I feel secure about my job and income, although that could always change depending on the situation.
I work in financial services which is a stable space to be in right now and continues to have relatively high earning potential among corporate jobs. My student loans are manageable and I anticipate my income will only continue to increase. I also previously worked in the airline industry and I am glad I decided to move to financial services long before Covid happened!
Percent of veterinarians reporting no change in income compared with before the pandemic, March to August 2020.
- March 18: 75%
- April 17: 67%
- May 15: 73%
- August 12: 87%
- Average with no income change from March to August 2020: 75%
Veterinarians faced a surge in consumer demand as the pandemic stayed around for many months.
Customers had to stay cooped up with their pets in some cases for months at a time. Hanging out with your pets far more often than usual caused many people to notice health problems or concerns they might have otherwise ignored or missed.
It helped that veterinarians could mostly treat animals inside their offices without humans present. Many report pet owners would sit in their car while the vet would handle treatment.
Some veterinarians even reported that this led to increased efficiency in the number of patients they treated. It also seems like the hard shutdowns in April caused many vets to temporary lose their incomes in some parts of the country.
Pandemic or not, my passion is in Veterinary Medicine and I’m glad that I went through all the hurdles to get to where I am now.
Not affected terribly by covid. It’s more mental health rather than student loans in terms of second guessing my career choice.
Still love my job!
Percent of teachers reporting no change in income compared with before the pandemic, March to August 2020.
- March 18: 76%
- April 17: 76%
- May 15: 77%
- August 12: 76%
- Average with no income change from March to August 2020: 76%
While a lot of K-12 teachers are struggling through lessons via Zoom, most are still getting paid.
Only 2% of teachers reported loss of income completely in most of our surveys. Although teachers do not make huge incomes, their incomes at worst generally have been cut rather than completely eliminated.
That makes sense, as local governments employ the largest number of teachers. Those employed at private schools seem to be suffering the most.
Layoffs and salary reductions do not appear to have gotten worse for teachers from March to August, making them among the most stable of all professions during this pandemic.
Stable though is not necessarily good if you’re well below pre-COVID income levels.
Also, in our August survey, we found that teachers had the highest rate of regret for choosing their career because of what’s happened to them during the pandemic.
So based on financial stability alone, teaching as a profession has scored well during the pandemic. On other measures, the stress may or may not make up for that stability.
I’ve seen no impact on my income at this time because the state is paying all educators for 4 months. If this extends 12-18 months and I am no longer employed, my house will be lost
My district is trying to teach online, and we are working out the kinks and so I’m not really on the same 7:30-3:30 schedule that I was, but I am still getting paid my contract wage for my contract hours (not necessarily identical to corona hours)
When corona hit in March and we were forced to go online, teachers were praised for their efforts. Now, we are considered “lazy” for trying to be cautious and protect ourselves and our families for not wanting to go back to school. A lot of teachers, myself included, are expected to teach face-to-face while simultaneously maintaining virtual courses for students in quarantine. We are mentally and physically and emotionally drained due to corona.
6. Non-Profit Professional
Percent of non-profit professionals reporting no change in income compared with before the pandemic, March to August 2020.
- March 18: 100%
- April 17: 76%
- May 15: 62%
- August 12: 72%
- Average with no income change March to August 2020: 77%
Non-profit organizations tend to rely on donations for their operations. When the stock market fell back in March, wealthier individuals pulled back on their giving substantially.
However, the stock market recovered quickly. You’d presume donations recovered quite a bit too, leading to more non-profit employees seeing their incomes return to pre-pandemic levels by August.
Non-profits also receive funding through grants and government funding, which contributed to the non-profit profession making the top 10 list.
We are still in a precarious economic time. Many non-profit jobs have not come back yet. However, government stimulus and a rebounding stock market supported incomes in this sector.
Although I am currently working, my husband is a sports broadcaster who is now laid off and will be out of work as long as sports are cancelled. We are now trying to plan for at least 6 months with him being out of work, and relying on my nonprofit worker salary only
My industry (museums) has been gutted by the impacts of Covid. I no longer have job security and am about to start a tech bootcamp. This sucks because I tried hard to find another non-profit job but they are just not hiring right now. I will probably lose my PSLF status.
In my primary occupation, I have been as busy as ever due to the organization’s need to maintain stability within operations. I feel extremely lucky to be in my position, with my primary hope being that school is back in session next year for my kids.
5. Physician Assistant
Percent of physician assistants reporting no change in income compared with before the pandemic, March to August 2020.
- March 18: 91%
- April 17: 70%
- May 15: 67%
- August 12: 85%
- Average with no income change from March to August 2020: 78%
We went from 1 in 10 PAs reporting a drop in income in March to 3 in 10 in April and May. However we saw the percent reporting a normal pre-pandemic level of pay jump to 85% in August.
Many PAs have specializations in surgical areas that in some cases had been on hold. That said, it seems that the majority are still doing ok and some of the elective procedures are coming back.
I do wound care for the elderly. I’ve noticed families are scared and taking their loved ones home due to COVID-19 since visiting hours have been banned. My income will take a slight dip but should bounce back due to higher cases of elderly people getting sick or current patients developing wounds due to activities being cancelled, nursing staff being overworked, and patients subsequently getting more skin break down and falls.
I’m a rural family practice PA. I’m working a lot more hours since one of our doctors is off work awaiting COVID-19 testing. I am not able to see many more patients physically and the volume of bullshit (phone calls, med refill requests, etc has more than doubled). I am definitely concerned about burnout.
Percent of lawyers reporting no change in income compared with before the pandemic, March to August 2020.
- March 18: 87%
- April 17: 80%
- May 15: 80%
- August 12: 79%
- Average with no income change from March to August 2020: 82%
As one of my lawyer friends told me this week that “if there’s massive numbers of bankruptcies, you’ll need lawyers to process them all.”
There are new laws and regulations coming out at breakneck speed, businesses scrambling to raise cash, and perhaps even more strain on civil and criminal courts than there usually is, so it seems natural that lawyers would be doing well financially compared to other professions.
Lawsuits continue against big banks that failed to process government stimulus programs equitably. Equity and debt financing for some companies is more important now than ever, and you must have lawyers to complete these deals.
However, it seems like incomes for lawyers have mostly stabilized instead of recovering quickly like some of the professions on this list. Even so, the high level of the lawyer income floor during this pandemic is what earned lawyers the number 4 spot on our list.
As a litigator, I am seeing business increase. Companies are scared about business income interruption and employment law concerns.
Torn between spending more and helping the local businesses I care about in my community, and saving enough for darker times. Income currently is stable, but worried that that could change during a prolonged crisis.
I’m a lawyer at a larger firm, and though I have a relatively strong salary, I work in M&A and am very worried about losing my job, not immediately, but in the next 12 months.
Percent of physicians reporting no change in income compared with before the pandemic, March to August 2020.
- March 18: 91%
- April 17: 78%
- May 15: 78%
- August 12: 84%
- Average with no income change from March to August 2020: 83%
My wife is a physician. She does elective surgeries for older women with pelvic disorders. Originally, we thought that she might be getting pulled to cover shifts in the emergency room.
Our area, like many in the country, did not see its healthcare capacity become overwhelmed. What healthcare systems have seen is a massive drop-off in revenues.
From our survey results, physicians reported in April that only the worst emergencies or important patients consults still happened at their hospitals.
By August, many of these patients have started coming back. However, we haven’t seen restoration of some of the cuts that happened, such as 401k employer matching.
It’s worth noting that very few physicians report losing their jobs entirely at any point from March to August (only 1%, one of the lowest of any profession we surveyed).
While they are financially better off than most, some physicians are physically or mentally spent while battling on the front lines and risking their lives. Many others saw a drastic drop in incomes, RVUs, and salaries, although most are still unchanged.
Being forced to take 2 weeks unpaid quarantine due to an occupational exposure.
Two physician house. Still paying multiple preschool tuitions (I don’t mind, worried about teachers more than us). But now we have to look for a nanny. We don’t know our hours (which may be significant as we are called to serve more), and we feel bad about exposing a nanny to us. We feel we are ok financially, but at the highest risk for serious illness or death, which would obviously be a much larger burden.
I am not spending money because I am working 100+ hr weeks
I am a sole practitioner and while I am able to do Telemedicine, I’m seeing a decline in patients seen as we aren’t emergent care. While income is still present now, I am concerned about the coming months as my practice is not insurance based, but cash based.
Percent of pharmacists reporting no change in income compared with before the pandemic, March to August 2020.
- March 18: 93%
- April 17: 88%
- May 15: 81%
- August 12: 88%
- Average with no income change from March to August 2020: 88%
In March, one prominent pharmacist I spoke with said “people are flocking to pharmacies not just to get their prescriptions ahead of time, but trying to buy everything and anything, so staff is being asked to work extra hours.”
Some pharmacists work in drive through pharmacy settings and might have less exposure than other front-line healthcare workers. However, others face more patient contact and have significantly more risk.
It’s worth noting that just months ago, we wrote an article about the struggling job market in pharmacy. Things have changed very, very fast as pharmacy has been one of the most stable careers during the pandemic.
I work at an independent pharmacy. Many medications seem like they will be on back order soon if they aren’t already. If we can’t fill medicine, we don’t make money, and I don’t get paid. So far it isn’t an issue, but it’s uncomfortable to think about.
I work per diem for the VA. Luckily I have been receiving full time hours but I have been told that could change. The fear is that there will be a hiring freeze across hospitals if we go into a recession so I am saving up now in case I cannot get a full time job in the future and my hours get cut. The future is uncertain.
I have worked every day during it. I’m a pharmacist that works in home infusion and we had to stay open to keep patients out of the hospital and helped get people from the hospital home to quarantine. It’s been rewarding but stressful because we had staff working remotely and some of us working on site every day. It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever been part of and idk how we return to normal. That’s the big question.
1. Government Employee
Percent of government employees reporting no change in income compared with before the pandemic, March to August 2020.
- March 18: 100%
- April 17: 87%
- May 15: 84%
- August 12: 86%
- Average with no income change from March to August 2020: 89%
There’s been a lot of talk about government workers in danger of being laid off, but so far, we haven’t seen that happen a lot.
Government employees have had the highest level of financial security of any profession during the COVID pandemic.
From federal stimulus dollars to the Federal Reserve taking the highly unusual action of directly buying city and state debt, governments have not lost as much money as private employers and organizations.
That stability allowed federal, state, and local governments to protect workers more than other industries. However, in the absence of additional aid, this number 1 ranking on our list of financially secure jobs during the pandemic could be threatened.
I’m scared. My 3 siblings have lost their jobs. I’m the only other relative they have in the US and who ultimately takes care of our family.
In CA, the governor announced a 10% reduction in pay for state employees. This reduction is temporary until we get back on our feet, but obviously the recovery length of time is unknown.
I work for unemployment which is why COVID has not affected me; however, hearing all the desperate stories from the claimant’s who are having issues with UI has caused me a lot of anxiety.
One of the Worst Hit Professions: Dentistry
Right now there’s a huge divergence between professions doing well financially and those that are getting killed.
Dentistry is in financial crisis right now.
Percent of dentists reporting no change in income compared with before the pandemic, March to August 2020.
- March 18: 32%
- April 17: 19%
- May 15: 25%
- August 12: 61%
- Average with no income change from March to August 2020: 34%
Back in March and April, dentists told me if we surveyed them in a week that they think 100% of dentists would report a huge drop in income.
In the survey we did on March 18, 2020, 3 in 10 dentists said that they no longer had an income at all. Only 31% reported that their income had not changed, and many of those who said that seemed to work in military dentistry or in very rural areas.
On April 17, only 19% of dentists still had similar incomes as before COVID-19. 56% lost their income completely.
On May 15, 25% of dentists reported normal incomes. 42% lost their income completely, which is an improvement from May. Luckily by August, the majority of dentists reported incomes have returned to pre-COVID levels.
Here’s some of what we’re hearing from our dentists readers right now.
As an incoming dental student, much of our curriculum has moved to remote instruction so we aren’t getting the hand skills we need, yet tuition isn’t being changed at all.
Practice loan repayment is a concern. Not sure how banks will react and help.
Was about to buy a dental practice and since have had to put it on hold since the future of dentistry this year is very uncertain.
Jobs Ranked From Most to Least Secure During COVID-19
Here’s the full survey results below of major professions. I restate the top 10 and show dentistry as a reference point.
I list the results from the April and August surveys to show the period close to the trough compared to a period of recovery in incomes.
April and August Survey Results
Economic Recovery Will Happen, But It Will Take Time
While many workers in the professions above are doing ok financially right now, not all are.
As some of the comments mentioned, you might be getting a steady paycheck but you might also be risking your life and the lives of your family.
While these are scary times, financial markets and the economy will survive this. Most of our readers are not that worried about their student loans right now compared to their overall finances, but if you do need a plan we can help.
If you wanted to share what you’re going through with the economic fallout of Coronavirus, just comment below and share.
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