Jobs in Tucson

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Tucson offers a rich cultural scene, a cost of living below the national average, nearly 300 days of sunshine each year, and a variety of rewarding careers.

Though Tucson has been inhabited for more than 10,000 years, the modern city was officially founded in 1775 and made part of the U.S. in 1854. According to U.S. News & World Report, Tucson, Arizona, is one of the best places to live in the country, attracting a blend of students, working-age professionals, and retirees.

Made up of diverse populations and cultures, the Tucson job market experienced 1.9% growth in 2019 more than the national average of 1.4%. Furthermore, the city's 6% cost of living comes in lower than the national average. To give readers a clearer look at what to expect from this growing city, this page explores available jobs in Tucson and how candidates can pursue them.

Tucson at a Glance

How big is Tucson? 548,073 people live here.
How young Is Tucson? 20% of the population is in their 20s, while the median age is 34.5.
Is Tucson a growing community? Signs point to yes: the population increased 4.1% since the 2010 census.
How much do people earn? The mean annual salary was $49,110 in 2019.
How cold and hot does it get? 52.6° average temperature in January. 87.0° average temperature in July
How does the cost of living compare to the rest of the United States? 6% lower than the national average

Where to Start

When looking for jobs in Tucson, candidates should first fine-tune their resumes and brush up their interviewing skills. The state of Arizona offers various support services for new graduates entering the field and professionals changing jobs, such as AZ Job Connection. Other helpful resources include:

New graduates should also make use of their school's job board and career services departments. Employers often try to recruit directly from colleges and universities to ensure applicants have the latest knowledge and training.

Highest Paying Careers

Depending on their training, college graduates enjoy plenty of opportunity in Tucson. Though every employer offers a unique salary structure, the following data looks at high-paying jobs in Tucson, along with the projected job growth between 2018-2028.

Medical professionals like psychiatrists, physicians, and pediatricians hold the top five highest paying careers in Tucson. Below are mean salary rates in Tucson for some of the highest-paying careers that do not require a first-professional degree like an MD or JD.

Highest Paying Careers
Career Median Salary (2019)
Postsecondary Health Specialties Teachers $135,050
Medical and Health Services Managers $121,360
Financial Managers $102,170
Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers $98,120
General and Operations Managers $95,960
Mechanical Engineers $94,710
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Biggest Industries in Tucson

The city of Tucson provides opportunity in many industries, but the emphasis on innovation has helped the city become a leader in certain fields. According to government reports, major industries in the city include healthcare, renewable energy, and aerospace and defense. Among growth industries, optics ranks highly, with education and government rounding out the list.

Continue reading for more information on these industries and what kind of opportunities are available in each.

Healthcare Careers

In Tucson, the healthcare field thrives due to the influx of graduates from the life sciences programs and the focus on medical innovations and developments in the state's schools. The city also hosts headquarters for major healthcare organizations, such as Ventana Medical Systems, Critical Path Institute, and Sanofi US. 

Some of the available medical careers for bachelor's degree graduates include registered nursing and medical services management. For more information and career assistance, candidates should connect with the Arizona Nurses Association or the Arizona Community Health Workers Association.

Education Careers

As Arizona continues to invest in research and innovation in fields like bioscience and healthcare, the education field also grows. The University of Arizona is the city's largest employer with nearly 12,000 employees, and it continually churns out qualified employees for other industries. 

Candidates with master's degrees or higher pursuing education careers can explore jobs in postsecondary education administration or postsecondary teaching. Local organizations, like the Tucson Education Association and the Arizona Education Association, can provide career support.

Government Careers

As the second-largest city in Arizona, Tucson requires a robust government and public services department. As industries like healthcare, defense, and education expand, government workforces are needed to serve the growing number of people and organizations in the city.

Though the availability of careers in government varies considerably by state, candidates with bachelor's degrees can often find government jobs in Tucson as accountants or auditors or operations research analysts.

Aerospace and Defense Careers

Aerospace and defense jobs in Tucson have long attracted people to the region; the city ranks in the top five states in the industry nationally. Between Davis Monthan Air Force Base, the Air National Guard 162nd Fighter Wing, and Fort Huachuca, professionals in this field have access to many aviation careers and related jobs. 

Possible career options for bachelor's graduates include aerospace engineer and aerospace engineering technician. Candidates should make use of local organizations to find more employment resources, such as the Tucson Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee and Esperanza En Escalante.

Optics Careers

Tucson is an industry leader in the field of optical sciences, particularly because of local investment in research and innovation. Skilled graduates of the University of Arizona's Optical Sciences Center often find jobs working in Optics Valley, which is a cluster of organizations and institutions specializing in optical technology.

Candidates with a bachelor's degree or higher in a field like physics can pursue careers in mechanical engineering and physics and astronomy. Candidates can also consult the Arizona Technology Council - Silicon Valley Committee and the International Society for Optics and Phototronics for more information.

Remote Work

Working remotely provides another avenue for new graduates or experienced professionals looking for jobs in Tucson. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people work from home than ever before, and that trend looks to continue. Remote work options allow professionals to find employment in other major cities like San Francisco, where cost of living is 194% higher than in Tucson, and Phoenix, which is 11.7% more without paying the higher cost of living.

Some remote work possibilities include careers in marketing or communications management or computer programming. Both of these fields typically require a bachelor's degree for employment, and candidates can fulfill most work duties from home.

Nearby Colleges and Universities

In Tucson, students and professionals looking to upgrade their skills have access to many colleges and universities that provide training in the most in-demand fields in the city. Nearby institutions include:

Building a Career in Tucson

COVID-19 made it challenging for many industries across the country, and Tucson is no exception. The city's unemployment rate as of October 2020 was 7.9%, compared to the national average of 6.7%. However, the city offers access to world-class training, industry-leading clusters and organizations, and plenty of support services for job-seekers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Best Jobs in Tucson?

College graduates can find some incredible jobs in Tucson. The strong growth industries including optics, energy, and aerospace and defense offer some of the most in-demand careers in the region, while fields like healthcare and education also offer opportunities for growth and job satisfaction.

How Is the Job Market in Tucson?

The job market in Tucson grew faster than average between 2018-2019, and the strongest industries in the city continue developing despite the slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Is a Good Salary in Tucson?

According to BLS data, the mean salary salary in Tucson was $49,110 in 2019. This is lower than the mean for all occupations, but Tucson also has a lower cost of living than many U.S. cities.

Is Tucson a Good Place to Live?

Tucson offers plenty of reasons to call it home, including employment opportunities and a lower-than-average cost of living. The city also offers historical and natural attractions for entertainment and nearby colleges and universities for personal and professional development.

Header Image Credit: dszc | Getty Images

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