Big mountains and great skiing may be the first things that come to mind at the mention of Colorado, but cleared veterans may want to look at some of the state’s smaller cities with big opportunities. Colorado defense jobs and aerospace careers continue to be competitive, especially in these smaller cities.

The push is on to build Colorado as one of the best states in which to do business in defense and aerospace.  Late in 2013, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper appointed a new Aerospace and Defense Industry Champion, charged to implement a new aerospace strategy. The focus will be on helping aerospace businesses, defense installations and research institutions establish information networks with the government and private sector to build new industry opportunities.  Translated, that means new jobs for cleared veterans.  Take a look at what’s happening in three of Colorado’s best communities for cleared careers.

Colorado Springs

It’s the second largest city in Colorado, but home to less than half a million people.  More than 1,300 defense-related companies do business here, drawn by the strength of its military community, which houses, the Air Force Academy, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Fort Carson and Peterson and Schriever Air Force Bases. The larger employers include Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, Honeywell, and AGI.  But there are ongoing opportunities for cleared veterans in small to mid-sized organizations like Boecore, Braxton Technologies and Delta Solutions.

Among the most in-demand jobs: Applications software/development engineers, embedded software engineers, logistics engineers, GCS systems administrators and program security representatives.  Northrop Grumman is hiring now for multiple positions, as is Raytheon.  You may also want to check out ASRC Federal Holding Company, Exelis, ISYS Technologies and Overlook Systems Technologies, all of which are looking for cleared personnel.

As for the pay, software and other technology engineers are earning six figure incomes, while GCS systems administrators and program security representatives earn just above $50,000 to start.


With less than 100,000 residents, Boulder still claims the highest concentration of high tech employment in the nation.  It also gets a plus for having one of the nation’s strongest housing markets.   The appeal for cleared veterans points straight to the region’s defense focus and the fact that Boulder has both the highest number of private aerospace jobs and the second highest number of all aerospace jobs.

Currently, Northrop Grumman is one of the largest employers.  It consistently has openings for engineers in all specialties, from communications to technical services and systems.  Their wish list is broad, extending to subcontract administrators, systems administration managers and a host of others.  Salaries are dependent on years of experience and specialty.  Engineers in all fields earn between $76,000 and $90,000.  Systems administrator salaries are somewhere in the middle, at about $80,000. Cleared veterans may want to check out Colorado’s Space Coalition to learn more about the state’s aerospace industry, and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, the only lab in the world to design and build instruments that have visited every planet in the solar system.


It’s about half the size of Denver, and a great market for cleared jobs.  Buckley Air Force Base supports Air Force Space Command’s satellite tracking system and 460th Space Wing, employing more than 16,000 personnel.

The city’s largest private employer is Raytheon, where the focus is on information and data management systems and satellite command and control.  Northrop Grumman currently has the highest number of open positions for cleared veterans with experience in information processing and management, systems development and engineering.  Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company hires cleared veterans in jobs related to designing, testing and manufacturing advanced technology for space launch and ground systems, remote sensing, communications satellites and missile defense systems.

Software and network engineers earn average salaries of $82,000, and contract and systems administrators average salaries of between $65,000 and $75,000. In many cases, clearances boost those salaries.


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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: