The clouds are few and the sun shines about 300 days a year in Arizona. While vitamin D levels might be up for the cleared workforce, how does compensation stack up against the nation? Average total compensation in Arizona is $86,525, which is slightly below the national average of $88,915 for cleared professionals. However, average living costs also fall well below many other states. As one of the top states for federal contracting, Arizona is the eighth largest recipient of DoD spending and was ranked fourth in aerospace revenue by Deloitte. Arizona also invests in building engineering and STEM talent early with high school and college programs focused on building their aerospace and defense pipeline. Clearly, Arizona believes in educating the future. U.S. News and World Report 2018 ranked Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, located in Prescott, as first in the U.S. for Aerospace, Aeronautical, Astronautical engineering programs. With a strong growth mindset, Arizona is committed to providing cleared employees within their state an employment path filled with key mission support roles.
Compensation by Clearance Level
Compensation for Secret, Top Secret, and Top Secret/SCI all grew from 2018 to 2020. Top Secret clearance compensation increased by 13%, pushing average compensation to $108,059. The increase shows an emphasis on Top Secret missions, and the demand for professionals with the right skills and a Top Secret clearance.
Compensation by Career Level
While Arizona’s education initiatives are pushing to add more cleared professionals into the aerospace and defense industry talent pipeline, 50% of Arizona respondents in the ClearanceJobs Compensation Survey were mid-to-senior-level professionals, with at least 6 years of experience. Early career professionals did experience the highest compensation increases, with early level career professionals receiving 11% increases. While pay increases dropped with years of experience, the overall compensation was significantly higher as professionals moved up the career ladder. Management and director salaries were more than double the salaries of entry level professionals (from $48,162 to $108,320).
Sunny skies and Bright Careers
Arizona is boosted by the diversity of defense manufacturers with major contracts in the state, from replacing wings on the Air Force’s A-10 Warthog to Boeing contracts to provide flight training to Qatar. Major companies from BAE Systems and Raytheon to Boeing and General Dynamics have flocked to Arizona for the sunny skies and cleared workers.
Technology careers dominate as the highest paying positions in Arizona. With clear skies, it’s no surprise that Arizona is a key state for astronomy. This focus on the $3 billion optics industry has created the Optics Valley in Tucson, a corridor of optics companies anchored by the University of Arizona and where optics research, STEM talent, and commercial investment are combined. With so much technology and exciting advancements in these emerging industries, systems engineers command the top salaries at $132,347. Second are cleared management professionals—program managers are a vital component of keeping every government contract running and advancing on time and budget. IT-Security and IT-Software are also in the top 5 highest paying jobs with salaries over $100,000. Mechanical engineering is fourth on the list, with an average salary of $104,056. Just as IT professionals are needed to create new technology and keep it secure, mechanical engineers are needed to design the machines behind the technology—and to make advancements like optics and autonomous vehicles possible.