Jobs in Portland, Oregon

by TBS Staff
• 6 min read
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With thriving tech, manufacturing, and sports communities, Portland is a great place to live and build a career.

Portland, Oregon, is known for its eccentric culture and breadth of industries, providing many reasons for people to visit and settle down. According to U.S. News, Portland ranks in the top 10 best places to live, scoring particularly high on desirability.

Prospective residents have a lot to look forward to in Portland, including the vibrant food scene, progressive community living, and a strong employment outlook. This page takes a closer look at jobs in Portland, highlighting the city's major industries and most promising opportunities.

Portland at a Glance

How big is Portland? 654,741 people live in Portlan, with nearly 2.5 million in the metropolitan area.
How young Is Portland? 15.1% of Portland's population is in their 20s, while the median age is 37.5.
Is Portland a growing community? Yes, but not rapidly. As of 2020, the city is forecasted to grow just under 1% each year between 2021-2025.
How much do people in Portland earn? The mean annual wage was $58,240 in 2019.
How cold and hot does it get? 41.4° in January
69.2° in July
How does the cost of living compare to the rest of the United States? 29% higher than the national average

Where to Start

Job-seekers in Portland should begin by brushing up their resume writing skills and interviewing tactics. This will will improve their chances of landing the careers they deserve. Prospective professionals can also access employment assistance organizations and job hunting services hosted by the city, including:

Local colleges and universities also offer resources for to those seeking jobs in Portland. Schools often feature career boards and career fairs, where employers can advertise job openings and recruit directly from a pool of newly trained candidates.

Highest Paying Careers

While some of the highest-paying jobs in Portland require an advanced degree, such as a master's or doctorate, you don't need a professional degree to find lucrative employment in Portland. 

The following information explores the highest-paying careers in the Portland area that employ more than 2,000 individuals and do not require a first-professional degree, like a doctor of medicine or juris doctor. Projected job growth data applies to the United States as a whole, while salary information refers specifically to the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA area.

Highest Paying Careers
Career Median Salary (2019) Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)
Postsecondary Health Specialties Teachers $156,390 9%
Architectural and Engineering Managers $137,770 3%
Computer and Information Systems Managers $137,740 10%
Sales Managers $132,230 4%
Financial Managers $129,940 15%
Medical and Health Services Managers $129,270 32%
Marketing Managers $126,400 6%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Biggest Industries in Portland

Despite extensive job loss resulting during the COVID-19 pandemic, Portland still boasts a strong employment outlook, posting consistently above-average job growth rates and median incomes. Many employers make the city home because of the large population and high educational attainment rate among residents.

This hotspot for innovation includes industries like information technology, manufacturing, healthcare, education, and business and financial services.

Computer and Information Technology Careers

Ranked in the top 20 tech markets in North America by the CRBE Group, Portland boasts one of the most innovative tech clusters around, earning the nickname "Silicon Forest." Home to major organizations like Intel and Tektronix, the city offers information technology jobs for bachelor's degree graduates, such as software developer and information systems manager.

To find the best information technology jobs in Portland, candidates can look to local technology associations, such as the Oregon Computer Consultants Association and the Technology Association of Oregon.

Manufacturing Careers

Portland is a national leader in technology and specialty metal manufacturing, offering many in-demand production and manufacturing careers. Organizations like Precision Castparts Corp. and Daimler Trucks North America maintain headquarters in the city, offering career pathways like industrial production manager and industrial engineer.

For additional support finding manufacturing jobs in Portland, job-seekers should investigate community manufacturing organizations, like the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center, Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce, and WiM Oregon.

Sports, Shoes, and Outdoor Apparel Careers

Portland hosts some of the biggest names in outdoor and sports wear, including Columbia, Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas. The combined presence of local and international organizations provides abundant opportunities for those seeking art design, business and finance, or marketing careers.

The athletic and outdoor industry has a workforce of more than 14,000 employees in Portland. According to BLS data, Oregon ranks in the top three states for fashion designer and art director job concentrations and median annual wages. For more information, consult with local organizations like Prosper Portland.

Healthcare Careers

The healthcare industry is one of the largest employers and economic creators in Portland, boasting more than 110,000 jobs and nearly $2 billion in annual activity. Aspiring healthcare workers with bachelor's degrees can pursue medical careers in the city, including work as registered nurses and dieticians and nutritionists.

Some helpful local organizations include the Oregon Public Health Association, the Oregon Health Care Association, and the Oregon Association for Home Care.

Education Careers

There are more than 30 higher education institutions in and around Portland. These schools both contribute to the steady stream of highly trained professionals entering the local workforce and create employment opportunities for people seeking education careers, such as postsecondary teachers and career education teachers

Prospective teachers and education professionals can find career support through local associations like the Portland Association of Teachers and the Oregon Education Association.

Business and Financial Services Careers

Portland offers a variety of opportunities for graduates with finance degrees who are seeking business careers. Three of Portland's top 11 employers in 2019 were in the financial services industry namely, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, and Fisher Investments. 

Many other organizations hire business graduates with bachelor's degrees in Portland, particularly for careers as human resources specialists and accountants and auditors. Community organizations in this field include: 

Nearby Colleges and Universities

Portland has a strong higher education community, offering a number of different institutions in a relatively small area. This means that degree-seekers can find programs that suit them without the need for significant travel. Some of the major local options include: 

Building a Career in Portland

For those looking to build careers, Portland is a great place to earn an education, find employment, and develop professionally. The city boasts a lower unemployment rate than the national average as of October 2020, along with a minimum wage of $13.25 in the metro area almost double the federal rate of $7.25.

When choosing a career, students should consider fields that interest them. During their studies, internships and concentrations can help students chart a career pathway toward a specific industry or employer in the area. Degree-seekers should leverage the many school and community resources available to them when preparing to join the workforce.

Frequently Asked Questions

true What Is a Good Salary in Portland?

According to the BLS, the mean annual wage in Portland was $58,240 in 2019.

Is It Hard to Get a Job in Portland?

Adequately trained professionals should have little difficulty finding jobs in Portland; the city's annual job growth has outpaced the national average since 2011.

Is Portland a Good Place to Live?

Portland is one of the best places to live in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report. Among the methodology categories, the city ranked highest in desirability, job market, and net migration.

Is It Expensive to Live in Portland, Oregon?

While the cost of living in Portland exceeds the national average, the city also has more affordable healthcare and utilities, along with a higher minimum wage.

What Are the Best Jobs in Portland, Oregon?

The best jobs in Portland typically come from within the major industries in the city. Positions like medical services manager, information systems manager, and engineering manager pay particularly high salaries.

Who Is the Largest Employer in Portland, Oregon?

According to data from Greater Portland Inc., the largest employers in Portland include Intel, Nike, and U.S. Bank.

What Jobs Are in Demand in Oregon?

The leading major careers in Portland in terms of projected growth from 2018-2028 are physician assistants at over 36%, massage therapists at 33%, substance abuse counselors at 32%, and market research analysts at 31%.

Header Image Credit: David Gn Photography | Getty Images

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