Who is the largest employer in San Diego?

Largest Employers In San Diego

San Diego is a place that gets overshadowed by Los Angeles and San Francisco, but it also goes under the radar when you consider its sphere of influence. There are all kinds of athletes, musicians, as well as people in the film industry, the military, and some very large companies. San Diego has money and power. Some of the largest employers in San Diego are public entities like the Navy and the public school system, but there are other corporate giants like Kaiser Permanente, Qualcomm, and even San Diego biotech companies like Pfizer. The biggest companies in San Diego are large in the grand scheme of things.

Top Companies in the San Diego, CA Area

The best companies to work for in San Diego are also the ones that also hire the most. They’re based in institutions that are wealthy and powerful. The healthcare industry, education, and military are prominent in the county and city. Of course the job market in San Diego has changed with the COVID-19 pandemic, but it remains a place where companies thrive and people of all kinds come to work. Companies in San Diego are multifaceted and strong. 

Major Companies in San Diego

Here are some of the most prominent employers and largest businesses in the area.

Navy Base San Diego

The United States Navy is essentially one of the largest companies in San Diego and its base is a significant employer. It is the homeport of the Pacific Fleet, consisting of 46 ships. It has one Coast Guard port, seven logistical platforms, and several research vessels. With so many people and a lot of land to work with, the Navy is a massive employer in San Diego. The Navy also has an engineering headquarters in downtown San Diego, a medical center in Balboa Park, even a recreation center and a golf course in Mission Valley. The Navy is a huge source of money that comes from the taxpayer to fund their activities, making it one of the biggest employers in San Diego.

University of California, San Diego

The University of California is one of the most powerful entities in the state. It is one of the main players in the economy and has a lot of influence on politics and the government of education. It is also one the largest employers in San Diego. UCSD is a highly respected school, with funding for thousands of students. There is even the San Diego trolley extension project, which will make it easier to get the school’s facilities. The University of California has made an indelible mark on the county and city. Education is one of the top industries in San Diego.

San Diego County

Another one of the top employers in San Diego County is the county itself. It is rich in services and infrastructure. Whether it’s the protected land, retirement services, the courts, and resources for the poor, the county makes up so much of the local economy. Since education and the military are so prevalent in San Diego, the county has to hire more people and provide the circumstances to get things done. While the county isn’t one of the Fortune 500 companies in San Diego, it is still influential and integral to the area’s economy.

Sharp HealthCare

Sharp is a successful medical services and health care corporation. The company helps their clients find doctors, provides insurance, and gets the care that you need. Sharp’s success made them one of the largest employers in San Diego. With offices and medical facilities all around San Diego, they are a large company that deals with a lot of money and has an impact on many San Diegans’ lives. Sharp provides classes, community involvement, and care for all kinds of people across the region.

San Diego Unified School District

The San Diego Unified School District is the other major education entity in the area, making it one of the biggest employers in San Diego. Think about all the teachers and staff in the area’s schools. Think about the infrastructure and facilities for students, teachers, janitors, administration, libraries, and other structures of our education program in San Diego. There are some of the best public schools in the country because resources are allocated to them. It is no wonder why the school district has become a pivotal part of San Diego County.


Qualcomm is one of the Fortune 500 companies in San Diego that is also publicly traded. It is a massive corporation that is known for its 5G technology, artificial intelligence, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi services. They also have audio, camera, and automotive applications, smart phones, and they’re even working on smart homes and cities. Qualcomm is one of the largest employers in San Diego, providing jobs for all kinds of workers in the tech industry.

Scripps Health

Scripps is another health company that calls San Diego home. A competitor to Sharp, this company employs all kinds of medical workers and sees patients for a wide variety of reasons. Scripps has locations around San Diego that treat citizens and employ medical and administrative workers. Providing services like urgent care, cancer care, emergency and trauma, as well as walk-in and primary care. Scripps is also known for the online resources and ease to book an appointment with clinic doctors and other medical professionals.

City of San Diego

One of the top employers in San Diego County is the city itself. Not only does it offer resident resources, it gives companies subsidies to make business, plan, and build projects. Public safety facilities, the governmental infrastructure, and all the ancillary services for citizens lead to the city of San Diego being one of the biggest employers in the area.

Kaiser Permanente

Perhaps the largest medical institution in the region, Kaiser Permanente is one of the largest companies in San Diego. It provides insurance and high-end medical care for patients of all ages. Kaiser has doctors, medical facilities, and thousands of employees. With custom care and coverage, the company is helping people get treated beyond the borders of San Diego. They are a successful company that makes billions of dollars every year.

San Diego Community College District

Finally, the third education entity that is one the biggest employers in San Diego is the Community College District. As we’ve covered, San Diego has a rich education system and the community colleges are no different. They need resources, staff, professors, facilities, classrooms, labs, libraries, and much more. It is no wonder why they are right there with the county schools and the University of California.

Who is the Largest Employer in San Diego?

The biggest employer in San Diego is, of course, the military. The United States Navy is the largest entity that hires the most people in the area. It provides the most salaries than any other private company in the city or county. No private business employs more people than the Navy.

The Best Companies to Work For in San Diego

When it comes to who you should work for in San Diego, there are a variety of options. There are many where you can start with a good salary but still have  room for growth. If a business asks for employee background check services, they are probably a good place to work because they care about the honesty and loyalty of their employees. Established corporations provide more room for money-making, but public institutions provide unparalleled stability.

What Jobs Are in Demand in San Diego?

Jobs that are in the tech industry, the medical field, education, and administration are in demand in San Diego. With the COVID-19 pandemic, health care and the technology used to treat individuals has become increasingly in demand. There are many stable long-term jobs in San Diego that are in demand.

What is the Highest Paying Job in San Diego?

Since the medical industry is such a behemoth and one of the largest employers in San Diego, it is no surprise that physician doctors are the highest paid in the region. This is usually the case, but there are more health and medical institutions in San Diego per capita than other places, making it a competitive job market. This, in turn, has a wider effect on the economy in the area.

There are a few visible leaders of industry in San Diego. Education, medicine, the Navy, and biotech companies are some of the top employers in San Diego County. As some of the wealthiest entities in the region, they provide the most jobs and largest impact on the wider economy. The good news is, if you work in one of these fields or simply want to get into one of them there are many opportunities available. 

About the author: Ryan Beitler is a Southern California writer, journalist, and blogger. 

The banner photo of the U.S. Navy for this article is courtesy of IG user @usnavy