4 Great Industries in Orange County
Orange County's warm climate, oceanside location, and famous tourist attractions have given it a reputation around the world as a great place to vacation. But there's a lot more to "the OC" than theme parks and beaches. With over three million residents, the area is home to a rising number of successful businesses. And many of those businesses expect to hire more workers. In fact, 17,678 openings for middle-skills jobs are predicted to be created in Orange County every year between 2016 and 2026.1 Middle-skills jobs are positions that don't require a bachelor's degree, but that do require training beyond a high school diploma. Orange County schools offer many certificate and associate degree programs to help meet this need for more middle-skilled workers.
Such programs often lead to careers with good salaries. In fact, salaries in this region of California tend to be higher than in many other parts of the U.S. The average hourly wage in Orange County is $27.22, which is 12 percent higher than the national average of $24.34.2
Where can students like you find some of those job opportunities? Take a look at the following important industries in Orange County.
The projected job growth below is for the overall period between 2014 and 2024. The average hourly wages are for 2018.3
Orange County offers a lot of opportunities for healthcare workers with the right credentials. For example, one recent study found that the number of graduates from registered nursing programs will only meet 53 percent of the anticipated demand for workers in this career between 2016 and 2021.4
One reason behind this growing need for healthcare professionals is that the average age of Orange County residents is rising. In fact, the percentage of the population over 55 years of age is expected to climb from 22.5 percent today to 40.7 percent by 2060.5 That's a big increase for a demographic that typically needs more medical care.
Check out the numbers for these healthcare-related careers:
- Registered nurses—19.5-percent growth; $42.66 hourly
- Licensed vocational nurses—24.4-percent growth; $25.92 hourly
- Health information technicians—22.4-percent growth; $25.19 hourly
- Dental assistants—15.1-percent growth; $18.31 hourly
- Medical assistants—14.7-percent growth; $18.00 hourly
2. Information Technology
Information technology professionals are also in demand in Orange County. Consider this: IT salaries in this region rose 21 percent from 2012 to 2016 alone as employers focused on retaining workers in a competitive market.5 Another thing to keep in mind is that Orange County tech professionals increasingly work for organizations that aren't technology companies: More IT professionals are finding positions in financial services and healthcare organizations than in technology-specific firms. That's because all kinds of employers in the region need technology professionals to do things like manage their data and keep their networks secure.
So, what kind of careers in IT are growing? Take a look at these examples:
- Web developers—48.9-percent growth; $37.47 hourly
- Applications software developers—25.3-percent growth; $59.13 hourly
- User support technicians—20.5-percent growth; $29.05 hourly
- Database administrators—20.4-percent growth; $42.65 hourly
- Network architects—17.1-percent growth; $52.14 hourly
3. Advanced Manufacturing
"Advanced manufacturing" refers to manufacturing that uses innovative technology, resulting in improved workflows and products. This is high-tech, precise manufacturing, and it's taking off in Orange County. In fact, over 72 percent of manufacturing jobs in Orange County are considered advanced manufacturing positions.5
Across Orange County, advanced manufacturing is changing the way work is done in electronics, aerospace, and medical manufacturing. One area with particularly strong prospects in this region is medical device manufacturing: Orange County has five times more workers in this sector than the national average.6
Take a look at these advanced manufacturing careers:
- Computer-controlled machine operators—24.6-percent growth; $18.62 hourly
- Technical and scientific sales representatives—11.2-percent growth; $27.26 hourly
- Mechanical engineers—7.6-percent growth; $48.84 hourly
- Production and operating supervisors—4.9-percent growth; $30.19 hourly
- Semiconductor processors—2.4-percent growth; $16.41 hourly
Disneyland. World-class surfing. Major sports teams like the Anaheim Ducks. There's no question that Orange County is one of the major tourist centers in the U.S. In 2016 alone, 48.2 million tourists traveled to this region, spending $11.6 billion.5 Those numbers add up to a lot of job opportunities in the tourism sector. In fact, the region's leisure and hospitality sector employs more than 219,000 workers.5 And with many area attractions planning to expand, the tourism industry shows no signs of slowing down its hiring.
What kind of tourism careers are in demand? Take a look at the following examples:
- Bartenders—24.6-percent growth; $14.72 hourly
- Chefs—22.2-percent growth; $13.30 hourly
- Ticket agents—18.4-percent growth; $19.27 hourly
- Amusement and recreation attendants—13.8-percent growth; $11.90 hourly
- Hotel managers—6.4-percent growth; $30.26 hourly
Now Is the Time to Start Working on Your Future
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1 Orange County Business Council, Closing Orange County's Skills Gap, website last visited on September 12, 2018.
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Western Information Office, website last visited on September 11, 2018.
3 State of California Employment Development Department, website last visited on September 12, 2018.
4 Center for a Competitive Workforce, Initial Findings Report—L.A. & Orange County Community Colleges: Powering Economic Opportunity, website last visited on September 12, 2018.
5 Orange County Business Council and Orange County Development Board, Orange County Workforce Indicators Report, website last visited on September 12, 2018.
6 TClower & Associates, 2017 Biocom California Economic Impact Report Databook, website last visited on September 12, 2018.