You’ve probably never served in the military if you haven’t ended up with an assignment to a place you never selected, never wanted, and never dreamed you’d like. Many the airman has ended up with military orders to Dayton, OH, and thought – Dayton?! But I wanted Daytona Beach! But many of those who spend a military stint in Dayton supporting missions at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base find them falling in love with the city.

The focus in Dayton is definitely aviation and aerospace – the city is the home of Orville and Wilbur Wright, and Wright-Patterson is the largest employer. The National Air and Space Intelligence Center and Air Force Research Laboratory are both located in Dayton. The presence of these facilities fuels significant research and development activity and work in the Dayton region.

Benefits of Working in Dayton

When it comes to benefits of relocating to Dayton, cost of living is certainly high on the list. Housing costs are well below the national average, and living expenses such as retail items and groceries typically cost less in Dayton. As a smaller metro, traffic is not as heavy, but public transportation is generally not great. But if you’re ready to get rid of a terrible commute, Dayton is a great option – commute times average 20 minutes or less.

Dayton is a good springboard to other midwestern cities, or even to some locations on the East Coast. If you’re looking to get closer to family in the midwest but want a thriving defense industry career, consider Dayton. For a city of its size, cultural opportunities are alive and well, and affordable. Dayton has an orchestra, opera, ballet, and hosts a number of cultural and theatrical events. For families looking for an affordable city where they can buy a house and still be able to afford activities and events, Dayton is a great option.

Industries and Hot Jobs in Dayton

Aviation and aerospace are big – but it’s not just your typical flight lines and fighter jets. R&D is the name of the game at Wright-Patterson, and that means industries from electronic warfare to artificial intelligence and cybersecurity are all in-demand. If it’s cutting edge, it’s happening in Dayton.

“Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is a juggernaut when it comes to opportunities,” said D.J Hurlburt, Vice President and Director for Programs at Leidos in Dayton, in a 2018 article outlining 6 reasons to move to Dayton. “The Air Force Research Lab is here—and with it comes some of the greatest cutting-edge research in the world. AFRL works with everything: electronic warfare, flight systems, Position Navigation Timing (PNT), multi-spectral target recognition, cognitive systems, artificial intelligence, autonomy, open architectures, avionics, cybersecurity—all of that is at your fingertips here in Dayton.”

Defense industry employers hiring in Dayton include SAIC, Booz Allen, Leidos, and Alion Science and Technology Corporation. For the size of the city, the diversity of defense industry employers, and range of jobs, is huge.

“Dayton is an outstanding place to work, whether you are just graduating from college, getting out of the military, or just looking for another career,” said Mike Ronayne, Director of Technical Intelligence Services at Centauri. “As the birthplace of aviation and the home of WPAFB, there are opportunities in engineering, software development, machine learning, intelligence analysis, and data science career fields. Centauri is a leading provider of presenting new capabilities and initiatives in these areas. Be a part of the team that is at the leading edge of critical technologies!”

Dayton 411

Population 139,756 (197th largest U.S. city)
Housing Cost The median rental cost is about $680/month, and the median house values around $66,500. Of course, costs will vary depending on the area that you pick.
Typical Weather With January being Dayton’s coldest month and July being Dayton’s hottest month, the city follows a typical northern state pattern of hot summers and cold winters, with comfortable, moderate spring and falls. Think 70-80°F in the summer, 30-40°F in the winter and 50-60°F in the spring/fall.
Cleared Employers to Watch GDIT, Leidos
Highlighted Job Modeling & Simulation – simulation and gaming is not new, but in Dayton, OH, you get to be close to Wright-Patterson AFB and work on projects for the aerospace industry. Maybe you can’t play video games at work, but you can get pretty close to it.

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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.