We’ve mined the databases here at ClearanceJobs and cross-referenced them with the Department of Labor, and are undertaking a state-by-state tour of the top job markets in the United States. Who is hiring? What do they do? Who is the competition? Here is what you need to know if you live in one of these markets, or are considering a move.
There are two Floridas.
There’s the one you’ve visited if you’ve vacationed there—the Orlando area, probably, or maybe the beaches along the eastern coast or its southern edge. Postcard Florida. And there is the panhandle, which has a distinctly southern flavor. You’re there and it feels more like Mississippi than Miami. Get hired in Pensacola and it’s a seven hour drive to Orlando. Ten hours to Miami. (It’s faster to drive to Dallas!) So when you take that job in the Sunshine State, be careful how you sell the move to the kids. Epcot every weekend might not be doable.
The good news is that both halves of Florida are hiring—big time. The whole state is a clearance jobs bonanza. Tampa is home to MacDill Air Force Base and U.S. Special Operations Command. The Destin-area hosts Eglin Air Force Base and U.S. Air Force Special Operations School. The Navy’s Center for Information Warfare Training—where its crypto, cyber, and intelligence experts are trained—is based at Corry Station in western Florida. Naval Air Station Pensacola is home to the Blue Angels and among the most important military aviation centers in the country. The skies not enough for you? NASA famously launches its rockets from Cape Canaveral just east of Orlando. The point is: If you take a job in Florida you can work with spies, commandos, and spaceships. Here are a few of those jobs, and how to get them.
WHO IS HIRING in florida
Most of the big defense contractors that might immediately come to mind have operations in Florida, and are hiring for the usual positions. (Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man cybersecurity and he will make six figures and can work anywhere in the country.) Because Florida is so spread out, here are a few hiring capitals based on geography. Eglin Air Force Base is in westernmost Florida. Melbourne is on its east coast. And Orlando is down below—close enough to the water that it can feel like heaven, but far enough to avoid the worst wallop of hurricane season.
Eglin is one of the largest military installations in the country, and is prime job-hunting ground if you hold a security clearance. Why? Every reason you can think of. Just about every missile fired by the Air Force was developed there. Likewise aircraft guidance systems. Twentieth Space Control Squadron monitors space for incoming asteroids, so there are space jobs aplenty (and meaningful ones at that—just ask the dinosaurs). The aforementioned U.S. Air Force Special Operations School is based out of Hurlburt Field, which is part of Eglin. Notably, you’ll find a ton of jobs at Eglin that are related to the F-35 Lightning II and the support, maintenance, and engineering thereof. That’s because the 33rd Fighter Wing trains F-35 pilots and support personnel in the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, as well as from allied countries around the world.
If you’re into surfing and the Gulf beaches near Eglin thus aren’t to your liking, you can get a job in Melbourne, which is on the eastern edge of the state—the “treasure coast,” as it’s called, adjacent on either side to Cocoa Beach and Vero Beach. If for no other reason, I’m tempted to quit writing this article and apply for a job there myself. Wireless and telecommunications giant Harris Corporation is headquartered from Melbourne, and the job openings in the ClearanceJobs database reflect that. Indeed, there’s a massive high-tech defense contractor bent to the area; Northrop Grumman, among a dozen others, is also hiring in the area. Melbourne might be the only place in the world where software developers and electrical engineers have the same sun-kissed skin as your average lifeguard.
By far, the Florida city with the highest demand for cleared workers is Orlando, meaning that every day at 5, you can punch out, pick up the family, and catch the fireworks show at Magic Kingdom. (Florida residents get deeply discounted annual passes to the parks.) Orlando’s role in the defense industry goes back to 1956, when Martin Marietta established a plant in the city. Lockheed Martin is still there today, where they develop advanced combat systems—and they are hiring like crazy. The company accounts for three-quarters of the job openings in Orlando (and most of the aerospace positions at nearby Cape Canaveral). Engineers of all stripes won’t hurt for opportunities, but the postings run the gamut, from finance and fabricator to security guard and… yes… cybersecurity.
YOU VERSUS THE COMPETITION
The ClearanceJobs database lists 800,000 candidates; the cleared Floridian workforce looks like this:
- Secret: 48%
- Top Secret / SCI: 35%
- Top Secret: 12%
- Not Specified: 3%
- Public Trust: 1%
- Confidential: <1%
- Intel: <1%
- Dept of Homeland Security: <1%
- Dept of Energy (Q or L): <1%
In short, if you work in Florida, you have a Secret or Top Secret clearance. The numbers are even—48% vs 47%—making Florida the only state in this article series so evenly divided. In Texas, the numbers are lopsided toward Secret (55%). In Maryland and Virginia, they lean massively toward Top Secret (56%). If nothing else, this reflects a balance in Florida between active duty military installations (and attendant, clearance-holding personnel—more often than not, Secret) and defense contractors doing research and development (they don’t let just anyone design air-to-ground missiles). The good news is that if your finances are a mess and you can’t get a Top Secret, you can probably still find work and make a fresh start in the Sunshine State.
As for education:
- Bachelors 32%
- Masters 20%
- Associate 17%
- High School or Equivalent 17%
- Certification 8%
- Doctorate 1%
Compared with the national average, the cleared Florida workforce is a well-educated workforce: 53% hold a baccalaureate or higher, versus 32% nationally. (Indeed, it’s better educated than Texas or California.) It’s hard to point to any single reason for this, though the job openings are certainly suggestive: 75% of job openings in Florida are for engineers of some stripe. You’re not going to get by as an engineer without a bachelors or higher. Don’t hold a degree? Don’t despair! We have previously covered online degrees from traditional universities that you can earn at night: degrees like aerospace, computer, software, and electrical engineering—precisely the sort that you need to get a job in Florida.
Lastly, the workforce experience level in Florida is wildly bent toward workers who have been around for a while:
- Senior (10+ yrs experience): 44%
- Mid (5+ yrs experience): 24%
- Management (Manager / Director of Staff): 17%
- Early (2+ yrs experience): 8%
- Entry (<2 yrs experience): 4%
- Exec (SVP, EVP, VP): 2%
- Student (undergrad / grad): < 1%
- Sr Exec ( President, CEO ): < 1%
This is the most “senior” workforce of this state-by-state job series. If nothing else, that is the single strongest testimonial to life in Florida. Workers come to Florida and they never, ever leave.
LIFE IN FLORIDA
On that note, what’s it like in the Sunshine State, anyway? I guess it depends on whether or not living in a subtropical paradise appeals to you. This year, Florida’s economy will reach a valuation of $1 trillion—a GDP higher than Saudi Arabia! If the state declared independence, it would be the 16th-largest economy in the world. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida has an unemployment rate of 3.9% as of April 2018. (This is dead even with the national average.) The state is expected to add 180,000 jobs this year—a slight slowdown from last year’s 195,000.
U.S. News and World Report ranked the state best in the nation for higher level learning—but 40th in Pre-K through high school, so plan accordingly. If you are moving with kids (or moving with plans of having them), the Great Schools Database can help you find a school by district or city and learn where it excels and where it falls behind. And if you plan to put a roof over that family’s head: According to Zillow, the median home price in Florida is $221,000 (versus $537,315 in California and $184,112 in Texas). If you rent, you’ll find prices slightly higher than the national average ($1578 versus $1452), which is still more than a thousand dollars cheaper than California. If you are moving alone? Don’t worry about it. Just spend your evenings on the beach, sleep in your car, and shower at the gym. You’re living in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Why spoil it with complications?