If you want to go nuclear, be a part of the commercial space race, or shoot a laser, you may want to consider a move to Albuquerque. New Mexico has long been an aerospace leader, and today it continues to expand its reach into the skies with growing opportunities in unmanned aerial systems and technologies like microwaves, lasers, and adaptive optics. The combination of wide-open restricted airspace, an ideal climate, and over 20 federal, state, and private laboratories make it an ideal place to take to the skies, or blow some things up.

Kirtland Air Force Base is located in Albuquerque and employs 23,000. It’s home to Air Force Materiel Command’s Nuclear Weapons Center, as well as the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center. Sandia National Laboratories, a Federally Funded Research Development Center, is located in Albuquerque, and develops cutting-edge technology at the intersection of defense, energy and aeronautics. Sandia’s history goes back to World War II and the Manhattan project, and it still works to ensure the safety and security of the nuclear arsenal today.

Benefits of Working in Albuquerque

In addition to great career opportunities, many are attracted to Albuquerque’s sun, sand, and low cost of living. In Albuquerque, you have the Sandia mountains in your backdrop and the Rio Grande flowing through your city. If you like to work in the defense industry by day and moonlight as a Hollywood extra by night, Albuquerque may be a great option. Breaking Bad is filmed in Albuquerque, along with a growing number of major movies. If a Hollywood set isn’t your scene, Albuquerque embraces outdoor activities, with numerous public parks, and lots of biking, hiking and climbing options.

Tired of a boring commute? Albuquerque may not have great public transit options, but the traffic is also nearly nonexistent. And with a wide variety of cultural opportunities, a diverse neighborhood scene, and lots of great restaurants, you’ll know how to spend those extra daytime hours.

Hot Industries and Jobs to Watch in Albuquerque

The presence of the Air Force Research Lab and Sandia National Laboratories makes for a variety of great government and contracting positions, as well as exciting, innovative tech jobs. Just over two hours away is Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, and a sign that New Mexico is in it to win it when it comes to preparing for the next generation in space travel.

If you’re looking to blend cybersecurity and space, Parsons has a number of cleared technical jobs supporting space missions in Albuquerque. SAIC, Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, and Procession Systems are just a handful of the thousands of defense contractors supporting missions in Albuquerque. Whether you’re looking to look for one of the largest defense contractors or a small business start-up, Albuquerque has a career option for you. Because of the size of the industry and the diversity of the threat missions, key jobs include everything from AWS engineer to orbital analyst or weapons design engineer.

Albuquerque 411

Population 561,188 (32nd largest city in the U.S.)
Housing Cost The median rental costs $855 per month, and the median house value is $193,000.
Typical Weather Albuquerque is another dry, desert climate with average temps between 80-93°F, May-September, which is slightly cooler than Tucson, AZ. March, April, and October are a pleasant 60-70°F, and the winter months’ average highs are about 50°F.
Cleared Employer to Watch Sandia National Laboratories 
Highlighted Job Modeling & Simulation – Sometimes supporting warfighters and decision makers means working behind the scenes to provide safe mechanisms for training and analysis.

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