As the nation's fifth-largest metropolitan area and home to 22 companies on the Fortune 500 list, Houston is an excellent place to grow your career.
Houston is one of the largest cities in the country by population and land area, with one of the nation's most diverse populations. Named one of the best places to live and retire by U.S. News & World Report, the city offers attractions to visit, culture to experience, and employment opportunities to pursue.
Despite COVID-19 challenges, jobs in Houston have fared better than those in most major metropolitan centers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the city ranked fourth in employment rates among the 12 biggest cities. Before the pandemic, Houston ranked third in employment growth in that same group.
Continue reading for more information about the biggest and best industries and jobs in Houston.
Houston at a Glance
|How big is Houston?||2,320,268 people live in Houston, with more than 7 million in the metropolitan area|
|How young is Houston?||16.6% of the population is in their 20s, while the median age is 33.4.|
|Is Houston a growing community?||Yes. Between 2018-2019, it was the third-fastest-growing metropolitan area in the nation, growing 1.3% annually.|
|How much do people earn?||The mean annual wage was $54,490 in 2019.|
|How cold — and hot — does it get?||53.1° in January
84.4° in July
|How does the cost of living compare to the rest of the United States?||2% higher than the national average|
Where to Start
Before hunting for a job, candidates should update their resumes and interviewing skills to ensure they make the most of coming job opportunities. Houston residents can also seek job hunting help through the following organizations:
- Texas Workforce Commission
- Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce
- Workforce Solutions
In addition, schools and universities often provide job boards and career fairs with local career listings. Joining a professional organization specific to the industry you are pursing can also pay off.
Highest Paying Careers
Houston offers many professions with a combination of high salaries and strong projected growth. The following figures cover the highest-paying careers in Houston that do not require a first-professional degree like a doctor of medicine or juris doctor.
|Career||Median Salary (2019)|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$158,500|
|General and Operations Managers||$127,510|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$119,540|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||$114,140|
Biggest Industries in Houston
Houston is a key location for major organizations across many industries, including manufacturing, energy, life sciences, aerospace and defense, and healthcare. The city's enormous workforce, world-class higher education institutions, and proximity to key facilities and shipping centers all contribute to the city's industrial growth.
Below, we explore each of these major sectors, along with available job opportunities in Houston.
Houston boasts the second-largest metropolitan manufacturing industry in the country, spurred on by access to two international airports and multiple ports and railways. Candidates with bachelor's degrees can pursue production careers in the city, including materials engineering and industrial production management.
For more assistance finding and building manufacturing careers in Houston, applicants can join local professional organizations, such as the Greater Houston Manufacturers Association and the Texas Association of Manufacturers.
Houston is home to 10 of the top 50 largest aerospace manufacturing organizations in the country. The city also hosts major industry centers, including NASA's Johnson Space Center, the Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, and the Coast Guard Air Station Houston.
Among the many available aviation careers, candidates with bachelor's degrees can pursue jobs in Houston in aerospace engineering or mechanical engineering. The city also hosts the following related professional organizations:
Houston boasts the fourth-largest engineering workforce in the country and hosts the headquarters for many of the largest energy companies in the United States. The industry employs over 230,000 professionals in various roles, including roles like chemical engineer and nuclear engineer, which typically require bachelor's degrees.
Some of the city's professional organizations working in the energy sector include:
In addition to hosting the Texas Medical Center, which is the world's largest medical complex, Houston supports more than 1,700 medical sciences organizations. Professionals with bachelor's degrees qualify for many positions in this field, including jobs as biological technicians and microbiologists.
The city offers a variety of professional and community organizations that support the life sciences and biotechnology industry, including BioHouston, Inc. and Texas Healthcare & Bioscience Institute.
Home to more than 8,000 technology firms, Houston is a hotbed for tech companies and aspiring IT professionals. With over 200,000 working IT professionals, the city offers a diverse selection of IT careers, including careers that require a bachelor's degree, like software development and computer information systems management.
Houston employs more than 300,000 healthcare workers, with over 40% working in ambulatory care and more than 30% employed at hospitals. With a bachelor's degree, aspiring medical professionals can pursue medical careers as registered nurses or medical services managers.
The following professional organizations in Houston can provide more information and assistance for medical professionals:
Nearby Colleges and Universities
Aspiring students in Houston can access world-renowned programs and schools that serve diverse populations. The city offers Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACUs) member schools, as well as historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Some nearby colleges and universities include:
- University of Houston (HACU)
- William Marsh Rice University
- Houston Community College (HACU)
- Texas Southern University (HBCU)
- Lone Star College (HACU)
Building a Career in Houston
Professionals have many pathways into Houston's workforce of approximately three million people. They can train at more than 20 colleges and universities or update their abilities with job-seeker organizations like UpSkill Houston or the Skills Development Fund.
Aspiring workers can pursue careers in the city's major industries or emerging fields. For more information and assistance, professionals can consult the Texas Workforce Commission, which lists support programs for workers and students.
Frequently Asked Questions
According to the BLS, the mean annual wage for all occupations in Houston was $54,490 in 2019.
According to BLS employment data, anesthesiologists earn the highest salaries in Texas, with a mean annual salary over $240,000. Chief executives make mean annual wages over $230,000.
The cost of living in Texas is 6.1% lower than the national average and 8.9% lower than in Florida.
According to the MIT living wage calculator, the living wage in Houston for one adult with no children is approximately $20,500.
The cost of living in Houston, Texas, is 3.5% less than the national average, with the average cost of health, housing, and utilities all falling below national figures.
Header Image Credit: John Coletti | Getty Images
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