San Diego Job Market: Your Guide on What to Know

The Current State of the San Diego Job Market

The past year and a half left many economists wondering if the job market in San Diego would ever recover. The good news is that yes, the outlook is good especially in many high-demand industries.

With the healthcare field needing more skilled workers and manufacturers ramping up production, there are many jobs in San Diego CA. The city boasts year-round sunshine and warmer weather, which means San Diego remains a popular option for job hunters locally and around the nation.

Some of the best job options in the San Diego job market include military and defense, leisure and hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing, trade, transportation, and utilities. Some government jobs are on the decline, but that can change at any time. Furthermore, with the influx of remote-work positions, the possibilities of jobs in San Diego are on the incline. This means that for people in most industries, there are great employment options if you know where to look.

How to Navigate the Job Market in San Diego

Aside from looking for signs on windows, there are many ways to find jobs in San Diego. Don’t feel discouraged if it seems like you’re not getting anywhere with your applications. It can take up to 5 months to find and get hired for the job you’re qualified for. It’s important to look on many different job boards, leverage your professional connections, and more if you want to succeed in your job hunt. If your work is in an area in decline, don’t let it dissuade you from applying anyway. You never know if you’re the one who will get hired.

San Diego Job Market Data and Statistics

Did you know that San Diego was once called “The Most Inventive City in The World?” With smart technology and a booming tourism sector, the San Diego job market can’t be beaten. For those job hunters looking for roles while they still have employment, the average time it takes them to switch jobs is 5 months. This varies depending on the sector and level of position. Higher-level jobs take more time to fill. Mid-level jobs have a lower average wait time.  

Unemployment in San Diego is down significantly. The San Diego job market is boasting a 7% unemployment rate which is down from a high of 16% in the last year. Businesses are hiring and training new employees right now. ZipRecruiter estimates that there are 85,562 jobs available. This means that there are many opportunities just waiting for the right applicant. With an average salary of $78,000, there is a lot of room for negotiation for jobs in San Diego CA.

The top 3 highest-paying roles should come as no surprise. General Internal Medicine Physicians, Physicians of all types including Optometrists (but excluding Pediatrics), and Chief Executives all rake in the highest salaries. This doesn’t mean that other salaries are low. People in utility roles, manufacturing, entertainment, and food services still make above the national average for that industry.

What Job Industries are in San Diego?

San Diego enjoys an impressive diversity when it comes to job opportunities. With San Diego’s expansive military presence, it’s no surprise that the leading industry in the area is defense. In fact, one out of every five employment opportunities in the region is in the defense industry. Jobs in this field are plentiful and varied. For instance, the military defense provides some of the highest paying jobs in San Diego with highly coveted positions in areas of technology, computer science, and cybersecurity.

While military defense is well-established and makes a booming contribution to the San Diego job market, there are many other industries in the private sector that are bursting with opportunities for those seeking employment. For instance, if you consider San Diego has over 80 research and academic institutes within the city, then it makes sense the fields of medicine and health rank at the top of service-providing industries in the area and growing each year. Another hot industry is leisure, hotel, and hospitality, as San Diego continues to thrive in the field of tourism.

If you’re motivated to get into the digital technology industry or want to know how to become a graphic designer and land a great tech job in San Diego, you’re in luck. Aside from the military and the medical field, technology is the top hiring industry in the city. This includes software development, tech R&D, data science, and more. The technology industry is also powering entry-level positions with supportive jobs such as internet marketing, media development, and website development.

How to Search Online for Open Jobs in San Diego, CA

It’s easier than ever to search for jobs in San Diego. There are thousands of jobs hiring in San Diego and one place to start is on LinkedIn. It’s a social network for professionals and helps you connect with colleagues, business connections, and new people. It’s important to create a professional profile with a professional photograph that communicates what you do and how you can help others. There are even privacy features that enable you to search for jobs and get recruited without letting your current job know you are looking.

Other ways to find jobs include networking, doing a Google search, and leveraging job boards such as ZipRecruiter, Monster, and Career Builder. You can create profiles, upload your resume and search for opportunities that match your skills and expertise. If there are specific companies where you would love to work, you can also go directly to their website to search for available positions. In some cases, you can even reach out to a recruiter or HR person directly with your resume to let them know you are looking for a new job.   

Best Employers in San Diego

San Diego has many incredible companies to choose from. People love these companies for a variety of reasons. Some have great benefits, others have generous leave policies, and some are known for being women-friendly and have more women in leadership roles than average. All of these companies have something great to offer if you’re qualified.  

Northrop Grumman

If you’re in the defense or aerospace industries, this is an excellent company. They offer opportunities in technology and have a reputation for their quality services and products.

Dr. Bronner’s

This beloved soap company does manufacturing in San Diego. It’s a women-friendly environment that keeps employees happy for a long-time because of their products and their generous benefits. They include $7,500 in childcare subsidies, year-end bonuses, and so much more.

Kaiser Permanente

Employees love working for this healthcare company. Whether it’s in office positions or on the front-line providing quality healthcare to patients, they often have jobs hiring in San Diego. Those job seekers with higher-level degrees or who have completed online DNP programs can expect great opportunities within this company.

San Diego Gas & Electric

Another great employer is San Diego Gas & Electric. They have over 4,000 employees working together to provide energy to the West.

San Diego Humane Society

If you love helping animals, then consider a job with the San Diego Humane Society. You’ll be part of a compassionate team that helps provide love and care for all kinds of animals.


When you’re looking for jobs in San Diego, don’t forget to check out what’s available at Viasat. With amazing benefits, this company employs almost 6,000 people to provide satellite internet services across the nation.

Honorable Mentions

A few other honorable mentions amongst the top employers in San Diego include Mission Federal Credit Union, ServiceNow, and Coffman Engineers. You’ll also find many great businesses in La Jolla looking for quality employees. 

The Hospitality Industry & Breweries

Don’t forget the hospitality industry! There are hotels, restaurants, bars, tourist-oriented retail shops, and all sorts of hospitality-driven businesses in San Diego. If you have an interest in craft beer, there are over 150 breweries (although this number does fluctuate slightly). Breweries need all kinds of employees, from experienced brewers to warehouse workers to tasting room staff.

To find jobs in the hospitality industry, try a blend of the following tactics:

  • Regularly check the Food/Beverage/Hospitality jobs page on Craigslist,
  • visit company websites and look for a careers or jobs page, 
  • follow restaurants and bars you like on social media (they often put up a post when they’re hiring), 
  • drop off your resume between 2 – 4 p.m. Monday – Thursday at restaurants where you’d like to work (ask for the manager when you drop it off), and
  • if it’s feasible, become a regular at the place where you want to work, tip well, and be friendly/courteous/kind to all of the people who work there. It can help to know people when you’re looking for a highly-sought-after hospitality job such as a beertender at a place like Hamilton’s or Blind Lady Ale House.

What if you don’t have experience? You still might get lucky; some managers would rather train somebody from scratch if they see potential in the right candidate. However, you might be able to increase your odds of getting a job without experience by completing the first level or two of the Cicerone Certification Program and taking both an online Food Handler course and an online ABC course (for serving alcohol).

One final word of advice: Hospitality managers prefer employees who are always a few minutes early, never ask to leave early, and are willing to tackle any challenge. 

What Are the Highest Paying Jobs in San Diego?

Chief Executives

Naturally, the leaders of companies make a great deal of money. So much so that these CEO’s land on the top ten highest paying jobs in San Diego. They work hard leading the direction and vision of their organizations to ensure their success now and in the future. 

Natural Sciences Managers

For those who love research and have a wealth of experience as a scientist, you can make a great salary. Natural sciences managers help oversee and direct other scientists on research projects in chemistry, biology, and physics.

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architects already make good money in San Diego, but if you can land a job in management, your salary prospects improve significantly. Managers in architecture and engineering land on the top ten list of high-paying salaries in San Diego.

What Drives San Diego’s Economy?

There are several top-earning industries that drive the economy and the job market in San Diego. The largest contributor to the city’s economy is defense, due to San Diego having one of the biggest concentrations of military worldwide. The second-largest influence upon the economy is tourism, as San Diego sees 35+ million visitors each year and generates almost $9 million dollars annually from the tourist industry. Lastly, international trade, technology, and medical research and services are heavyweight industries contributing to San Diego’s thriving economy.

Does San Diego Have a Good Job Market?

While the job market is still recovering from the high unemployment rates last year, the San Diego job market is growing and healthy. There are jobs available in the hospitality and food industries, along with healthcare, defense, utilities, and manufacturing. While it may take a little while to find just the right position, with a good resume, professional social media profile, and creative searching, it’s possible to get a great paying job at an excellent company.

About the author: Kristi Crosson is a writer, photographer, and farmer. She and her family raise chickens and rabbits and they are attempting to grow herbs as well. Her favorite part about summer is the time in the evening when the fireflies light up the fields with their luminescent glow. You can find her at

The banner photo for this article is from IG user @mdurson