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While Nashville is best known as the home of country music, the vibrant city also offers fulfilling careers in healthcare, finance, and computer science.

While its music scene makes it a popular travel destination, Nashville also hosts thriving logistics, healthcare, tech, and financial services industries. Recent college graduates and existing professionals seeking jobs in Nashville benefit from a diversity of career options.

Home to 56 colleges and universities, Nashville is the best-educated city in Tennessee — and the only city in Tennessee where more than 1 in 3 adults holds a bachelor's degree. Many in-demand jobs in Nashville require a college degree, including careers in business, healthcare, and education.

A low unemployment rate, an abundance of growing industries, and a low cost of living all make Nashville the perfect place to launch or grow a career.

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

Building a Career in Nashville

Nashville's growing industries attract job-seekers looking to start or build their careers. With a diverse slate of industries, common jobs in Nashville include healthcare professional, educator, logistics manager, and financial analyst. Many of these roles require college degrees.

Thanks to a below-average unemployment rate — Nashville reported a 4.0% unemployment rate in Feb. 2021, compared with a 6.2% national unemployment rate — qualified job-seekers can find many opportunities in Nashville.

Highest Paying Careers

What are the highest-paying careers in Tennessee? You don't need a law degree or a medical degree to earn an above-average salary.

The table below covers the highest-paying careers that do not require a first-professional degree, like a doctor of medicine or juris doctor. In many of these careers, professionals earn six-figure salaries. Projected job growth data pertains to the entire United States, while salary information is specific to Tennessee.

Highest-Paying Careers in Tennessee
Career Mean Annual Salary (2020) Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)
Chief Executives $167,020 4%
Architectural and Engineering Managers $132,730 3%
Sales Managers $128,540 4%
Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists $126,950 6%
Computer and Information Systems Managers $122,120 10%
Financial Managers $114,930 15%
General and Operations Managers $113,250 4%
Marketing Managers $113,050 6%
Medical and Health Services Managers $104,380 32%
Industrial Production Managers $102,480 1%

Nashville's Biggest Industries

Nashville's major industries include music, logistics, healthcare, tourism, and tech. The region is home to corporate headquarters for international organizations in diverse fields: Amazon, Cracker Barrel, Community Health Systems, Nissan, and Tractor Supply all operate headquarters in the area. Vanderbilt University is also a large employer in the area.

Many of these companies and industries prefer candidates with college degrees, so earning a bachelor's degree can help Tennesseans find good jobs.

Logistics, Distribution, and Transportation

Major companies like Amazon, Nissan, Bridgestone, and Gap all operate distribution centers and transportation facilities in Nashville. Logistics professionals keep supply chains running smoothly, while distribution and transportation professionals manage the packaging and movement of goods. Nashville's transportation, storage, and distribution managers earn an average hourly pay of over $43.

Many careers in logistics require candidates to possess college degrees. With a bachelor's in supply chain management or logistics, professionals can pursue decision-making roles in Nashville's logistics industry.

Creative Music and Arts

Nashville is known as "Music City" and is home to many iconic country music venues, so it's no surprise that music and arts comprise a major industry for the city. The music industry employs 60,000 people in the Nashville area — four times higher than any other U.S. city. Nashville also hosts 190 recording studios and 80 record labels.

In addition to creative arts jobs, the music industry also employs accountants, human resources professionals, and public relations specialists. Nashville's other creative professionals include graphic designers and web designers.

Healthcare Operations

Healthcare is the largest industry in Nashville, with over 500 healthcare organizations operating in the region. With over 352,000 healthcare jobs in Nashville, the industry is also the fastest-growing industry in the city. The healthcare field includes allied health services careers, clinical positions, and management-level opportunities. Over 20,000 registered nurses work in Nashville, earning an average hourly pay of over $31.

Careers in healthcare typically require a certificate, diploma, or degree. Programs in healthcare management can train graduates for supervisory roles in healthcare settings.

Tourism

Nashville's vibrant music scene and other attractions brought over 16 million tourists to the city in 2019. From 2013-2019, tourism grew steadily in Nashville, with an increase in visitors of more than 30%. However, with COVID-19-related shut-downs, Nashville’s tourism industry did lose $4.5 billion by the start of 2021.

Tourism has taken a major hit in the pandemic, even in bustling cities, but there is hope for improvement once it is safe to re-open. The tourism industry, including hotels, restaurants, and attractions, employs many workers in Nashville, and professionals typically do not need a college degree. However, earning one can benefit career advancement; for example, earning a bachelor's in hospitality management helps tourism professionals move into supervisory roles.

Finance

Many major financial services organizations operate offices in Nashville, including Jackson National Life and Caterpillar Financial. Finance professionals can work in these specialized organizations and in many other fields. For example, corporate offices rely on accountants, auditors, and financial analysts to conduct business, regardless of their industry.

Most finance jobs in Nashville require at least a bachelor's degree. Candidates seeking more specialized roles, like certified public accountant, also need graduate-level training. With work experience, finance professionals can advance into supervisory roles, like financial manager.

Information Technology and Computer Science

In 2020, Nashville ranked as one of the hottest job markets in the country, according to The Wall Street Journal. An "influx of technology jobs" helped propel Nashville to the top of that list. Recently, Amazon brought 5,000 jobs to the area, and other tech companies continue to hire professionals in fields like data science, cybersecurity, and web development.

Most information technology and computer science roles require a bachelor's degree, though some positions, including computer support specialist and web developer, do not require a four-year degree.

Environmental Science

For nearly a decade, Nashville has worked to become the "regional center for environmentally responsible business," according to a 2013 economic development report. Green jobs like environmental scientist offer opportunities for specialists working in ecology, engineering, and atmospheric science.

Most careers in environmental science require at least a bachelor's degree, and some career paths may require a graduate degree. For example, environmental lawyers must attend law school.

Remote Work in Nashville

Remote work opportunities allow professionals to work for companies that are headquartered in more expensive locations without taking on the associated cost of living themselves. Nashville's remote employees can benefit from the city's low cost of living. For example, compared to the cost of living in Nashville, San Francisco is 165.6% more expensive, New York is 84.6% more expensive, and Denver is 21.2% more expensive. Nashville residents can earn salaries from companies headquartered in those locations while still paying Nashville's cost of living.

Several industries rely on remote workers, including tech, counseling, sales, accounting, and finance. The COVID-19 pandemic has made remote work more common — a trend that will likely continue.

Finding a Job as a Recent Grad in Nashville

What's the best way to find jobs for recent grads in Nashville? Networking, building an engaging resume, and brushing up on job interview tips — all of these things can help recent grads transition into the workforce. If you're targeting remote jobs, check out Zoom interview tips, too.

Networking organizations based in Nashville can also make it easier to connect with professionals and launch your career. Some Nashville professional and networking organizations include:

Frequently Asked Questions

true Is It Easy to Get a Job in Nashville?

In February 2020, Nashville ranked among the hottest job markets in the country. With a recent influx of tech jobs, Nashville offers many diverse career opportunities for qualified candidates.

What Jobs Are in High Demand in Tennessee?

Tennessee reports strong growth in the logistics, healthcare operations, finance, and tech sectors. Tourism, the creative arts, and environmental science also offer high demand in Nashville.

Is It Cheap To Live In Nashville?

Nashville's cost of living is 3% lower than the national average, with even cheaper housing and utility expenses. Thanks to its growing industries, Nashville professionals can afford to live in the city.

How Much Do You Need to Make to Live Comfortably in Nashville?

Nashville's median home price is around $315,000 per year, with a median monthly rent below $1,000. May 2020 data indicates that professionals making an average annual income of $52,170 can live comfortably in Nashville.

Is Nashville a Safe Place to Live?

Nashville and its surrounding areas offer many safe neighborhoods. Visit CrimeMapping.com to see a map of crime in Nashville.

Genevieve Carlton holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University. After earning her doctorate in early modern European history, Carlton worked as an assistant professor of history at the University of Louisville, where she developed new courses on the history of science, Renaissance Italy, and the witch trials. Carlton has published five peer-reviewed articles in top presses and a monograph with the University of Chicago Press. She also earned tenure with a unanimous vote before relocating to Seattle. Learn more about Carlton's work at genevievecarlton.com.

Header Image Credit: Malcolm MacGregor | Getty Images

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