As the birthplace of powered flight, North Carolina continues’s defense and aerospace industry continues to thrive.  The state now ranks as one of the best places for cleared careers in both defense and the technology sector.  In June, CNBC rated North Carolina number five for top states to do business.  For cleared transitioning veterans, it not only offers great job prospects, it gets high marks for quality of life and affordability.

The North Carolina Technology Association’s most recent economic outlook survey reports that IT hiring is up.  A majority of hiring managers indicate they plan to hire more staff in the second half of 2014.  Along with plenty of IT businesses, the state’s five military installations and associated defense contractors mean good opportunities for cleared careers.   The North Carolina Defense Business Association indicates that aircraft engine and parts manufacturing is seeing the most substantial growth.  Currently, more than 180 aerospace companies are involved in aircraft manufacturing in some way.  But the list of cleared job opportunities extends across the state and across career fields.  From software developers to project managers and IT specialists, the outlook for cleared jobs is good.


The city is ranked 19th on Forbes’ list of best places for business and careers.  Charlotte has more than 1,000 defense contractors, including General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, UTC Aerospace Systems, BAE Systems and Newgard Industries. It’s also home to the Institute for Homeland Security Solutions, a collaboration of research organizations, labs, universities and businesses.   Charlotte is growing quickly.  It is now the 17th largest city in the U.S.  The job market is healthy, with 270 of Fortune’s top 500 companies located here.

Salaries in Charlotte are slightly below average but still good.  Software engineers earn $104,000.  IT specialists average $77,000, and program managers earn above $60,000.


Consider Greensboro a small town with a large aviation presence.  It is home to Cessna, Honda Aircraft Company and Timco Aviation.  It’s also earning a reputation for advances in research and technology.  The Gateway University Research Park includes universities, research and development businesses and labs.  It also houses the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.   Greensboro has been redefined as a combined statistical area.  That means Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem are all united in a population that numbers 1.5 million people.

Salaries in Greensboro are good for both staff and consultants.  IT specialists earn an average of $64,000. Technology consultants average $92,000, and software engineers average around $86,000.

New Bern Region

New Bern and Havelock jointly make up this small community along the Trent and Neuse Rivers.  Along its banks sit Boeing, Naval Air Systems Command, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Laulima Government Solutions and URS Corporation.  Due to its strong military and defense presence, opportunities for cleared careers are good. The same goes for salaries, which mirror those of Greensboro.

Fort Bragg Community

The job market in the state’s southeastern region continues to expand due to the area’s vast military presence.  The Fort Bragg Regional Alliance now represents eleven counties and 73 municipalities as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) 2005.   To accommodate the base’s massive personnel changes, the alliance has numerous workforce initiatives to help connect transitioning veterans to jobs on base and among defense contractors that include Lockheed-Martin, ManTech, L-3 Communications and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Salaries at Fort Bragg and the surrounding area are among the highest in the state.  Software engineers average $100,000, senior NET engineers earn $96,000, software developers earn $133,000 and supervisory IT specialists earn $113,000.  On average, security cleared workers earn about $15,000 less than their counterparts. However, North Carolina has a lower cost of living index, with lower than average housing and utility prices.

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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: