They've been much maligned for their role in the global financial crisis and they aren't in a rush to recruit new talent either, but at least Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch Ratings can still all provide stable career paths.
The agencies refused to comment on their hiring in Australia, but recruiters with knowledge of the sector believe that 2009 has been a slow year for them.
"There have been fewer transactions in the market this year, so there would appear less need to hire people," says Patrick Everest, a partner at Jon Michel Executive Search.
Media criticism of ratings agencies may have lowered their attractiveness with the current crop of graduates, but in the longer term they should continue to attract a good pool of applicants, comments Luke Heath, chief executive of Chandler Heath Executive Recruitment.
"Stability is a major attraction with a career at a ratings agency, along with reasonable pay, interesting work, and a collegial environment," he adds.
Heath says credit analysts within banks and asset managers have the appropriate skill sets to join agencies. And it works the other way round too. Everest says agency experience is sometimes seen by credit analysts as a useful stepping stone into global banks.
Jo Markham, senior consultant, Olivier Group, says ratings agencies remain viable employers because they have solid financial backing and are reasonably competitive with entry-level remuneration.
"Junior credit analysts can earn between $60k to $70k, which is similar to the banks. However, as you move up the ladder, those at the ratings agencies won't command the same packages as those at the banks," adds Markham.