Recession-Proof Jobs Give Paws

After 10 years working in computers, something was missing for Cynthia Mark: Passion.

So she quit her climb up the corporate ladder, and headed to St. Petersberg College in Florida to work with animals - a love of hers ever since she was a kid.

She's becoming a veterinary technologist - a specialist handling everything from drawing blood to analyzing it in the lab. And she's having a lot of fun, CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod reports.

In every economic downturn, people want to know what the most "recession-proof" jobs are. Given the strength of this recession, the smart job-seeker might want to look at the recession proof field that's among the fastest-growing. And for that, look no further.

Laurence Shatkin literally wrote the book on it. His "150 Recession-Proof Jobs" lists vet technician at No. 2. It's a field expected to grow 41 percent in the next decade. Veterinarians themselves rank 4th.

"I would think pets are discretionary, no?" Axelrod asked.

"Not anymore. Pets are really part of the family now, it's not considered discretionary spending anymore," Shatkin said.

No, it's not. In 2006, Americans spent $24.5 billion on their pets' health care. That's more than double what they spent a decade earlier. All that care is keeping pets alive longer, in large part due to advances in technology for diagnosing and treating animals.

The multiplying number of tests explains why vet tech is now the college's most popular program. With a job-placement rate of 96 percent, graduate and you'll get a job.

Over time, Mark can match the $70,000 salary of her old job.

"It's been a pretty secure kind of thing that we expect, when we're done with school, we know we have a job," Mark said.

And it's getting more secure all the time.

The only recession-proof field growing faster is computer analysis. But that's what Cynthia Mark was trying to get away from - figuring she only has one life, not nine.

  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the anchor of the Saturday edition of the "CBS Evening News" and a national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" and other CBS News broadcasts.