Florida’s Top Four Cities for Defense Jobs for Cleared Veterans

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A member of the Florida Army National Guard's Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group, exits a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during an airborne training exercise in Key West, Fla., Sept. 27, 2012. Photo by Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa

While it’s still all about sunshine, vacations and retirees, Florida is also hot with jobs for cleared veterans.  The latest figures from the Florida Defense Alliance show the state spends more than $73 billion in defense related activities, accounting for more than 758,000 jobs.  With its massive  number of military and Department of Defense facilities, your clearance is a hot commodity.

Mapping it by region, take your pick.  All counties benefit from defense.  Florida is home to 10 unified combatant commands, two of the Navy’s four deep water ports, the only east coast space launch facility and the only U.S. Marine Corp’s maritime prepositioning force facility.  Add the Navy Fleet Readiness Center and all of DoD’s facilities, and you’ve got a job market that stretches across intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, counterterrorism and cyber research.  If you’re looking for a second career, consider Florida’s top cities for cleared veterans.

Tampa/St. Petersburg

U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command are both housed at MacDill Air Force Base, with around 90 neighboring defense contractors.  Those currently winning the most defense dollars are ATK Integrated Systems, L-3 Stratis, Honeywell, Raytheon and General Dynamics.

Cleared personnel with software development and program management skills are always in demand, as are computer and information systems professionals.  But the advanced work conducted here has ushered in some new job titles that include joint exercise planner, social media assessments statistician, counter threat finance and intelligence analyst. And there’s always room for engineers in multiple specialties.

The Tampa region is military friendly, with a large community of veterans and veteran services. Housing prices made their highest jump in five years in 2013.  But the typical single family home sells for $172,000, not bad when cleared personnel are earning average salaries of $90,000 to six figures and above.

Orlando

Here, it’s all about aerospace.  Cleared software and systems engineers consistently rank at the top of the most-wanted list.  Major employers include the Kennedy Space Center, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, SAIC and Raytheon.

If industry leaders have their way, more jobs may be coming.  The Florida legislature is currently being pushed to keep “simulation world” in Orlando’s Central Florida Research Park, by adding a $60 million complex, rent-free to the military.  The request is largely aimed at curbing any possibility of future cuts to the park’s budget or its workforce of 30,000, and also to drive more defense jobs.

Programmers, scientific managers, information systems managers and modeling and simulation professionals earn between $85,000 and $116,000, while aerospace engineers earn about $92,000.  Those salaries carry well against the median home sales price of $155,000.

Pensacola/Panama City

Air and water drive this region’s defense community.  Naval Air Station Whiting and Naval Air Station Pensacola, with 90 tenant commands, provide DoD, military and civilian training schools.  Naval Support Activity Panama City focuses on research, development, test and evaluation, and in-service support for expeditionary and amphibious warfare, diving, maritime special operations, and mine warfare.

Tyndall Air Force Base, Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field are all good bets for cleared candidates with prior military service, as their missions focus on aviation special operations, unconventional warfare, special reconnaissance, counter proliferation, information and psychological operations and combating terrorism.

Tyndall currently has civilian openings for civil and facility energy engineers. On the contractor side, information systems security, cyber specialties and cyber software engineers are in demand.   Booz Allen Hamilton is hiring signals intelligence cyber warfare scenario developers.  CACI International is looking for systems administrators, network engineers and program managers.  And Northrop Grumman is hiring information assurance analysts and Linux cybersystems administrators.

Salaries are good. Systems administrators and analysts earn $84,000, cyber software engineers earn $75,000 to $85,000, and hardware engineers around $88,000.  It’s an affordable community, with home prices averaging $115,000.

Jacksonville

More than $4 billion in defense dollars runs through here, employing 127,000.  Along with all branches of the service, the U.S. Coast Guard and National Guard both have a large presence.  Civilian opportunities for cleared veterans run through Naval Air Station Jacksonville, a multi-mission base with more than 100 tenants, and Naval Station Mayport, with 83 tenants offer plenty of civilian jobs, along with the Marine Corps Support Facility Blount Island and Jacksonville Air National Guard.

If you’re looking to work for a contractor, BAE Systems is hiring production and planning managers, document control specialists and financial analysts.  UTC Aerospace systems is looking for program managers, senior staff engineers and manufacturing engineers, while Honeywell needs data base administrators.

Salaries have a wide range. Software engineers earn $80,000, and systems analysts average $65,000 to $70,000.  Housing prices are good, with 2014 kicking off a median sales price of $139,000.

FYI:  If your preference is none of the above, you might want to check out Melbourne on the east coast.  It’s a small town with a growing defense presence. Harris Corporation is headquartered here, and Northrop Grumman is hiring engineers in fields that include software, stress, electrical and communications systems.  There are also openings for industrial security analysts, network support techs and systems administrators.

 

 

Tranette Ledford is a writer and owner of Ledford, LLC, which provides writing, editorial and public relations consulting for defense, military and private sector businesses. You can contact her at: Tranette@Ledfordllc.com.

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