San Diego’s Giants: City’s Top Employers, Salaries, and Benefits

Medical People

San Diego, with its picturesque landscapes and booming economy, is home to a diverse range of industries. This article delves into the largest employers in San Diego, focusing on their roles in the local job market, the average salaries, and the benefits they offer.

Healthcare: A Hub of Opportunity

There is a vast variety of job paths available in the healthcare profession, which is both exciting and expanding at a rapid pace. Sharp Healthcare and UC San Diego Health are two well-known healthcare organizations that provide a variety of positions with good pay and benefits.

UC San Diego Health

UC San Diego Health is a leading academic medical center located in San Diego, California. It offers a diverse array of healthcare jobs, from clinical positions to administrative roles. Below, we outline the average salaries and benefits for different roles at UC San Diego Health:

RoleSalary Range
Administrative Staff$40,000-$60,000

Benefits at UC San Diego Health:

  • Comprehensive Health Insurance: UC San Diego Health provides extensive health insurance coverage, ensuring that employees and their families have access to quality medical care;
  • Retirement Plans: Employees can benefit from retirement plans, helping them secure their financial future;
  • Professional Development Opportunities: The institution offers continuous learning and development programs to enhance employees’ skills and advance their careers.

Sharp Healthcare

Sharp Healthcare is another prominent healthcare organization in San Diego, California, known for its commitment to patient care and employee satisfaction. Here are the average salaries and benefits for various roles at Sharp Healthcare:

RoleSalary Range
Medical Technicians$50,000-$70,000
Healthcare Administrators$60,000-$80,000

Benefits at Sharp Healthcare:

  • Employee Wellness Programs: Sharp Healthcare promotes a healthy work-life balance by offering wellness programs to support the physical and mental well-being of its employees;
  • Flexible Schedules: Employees enjoy flexible work schedules that accommodate their personal needs and preferences;
  • Tuition Reimbursement: The institution supports the educational aspirations of its staff by providing tuition reimbursement for further studies and career advancement.

Defense and Aerospace: The Industry Titans

Naval officer

For those interested in the defense and aerospace sector, opportunities abound in organizations like the United States Navy and General Atomics. These organizations offer competitive salaries and valuable benefits to their employees.

United States Navy

The United States Navy is one of the largest and most prestigious military branches globally. It provides not only a sense of duty but also promising careers in various fields. Below are the average salaries and benefits offered by the U.S. Navy:

RoleSalary Range
Naval Officers$60,000-$100,000

Benefits in the United States Navy:

  • Housing Allowances: The Navy provides housing allowances to ensure that its personnel have suitable living arrangements;
  • Healthcare: Comprehensive healthcare coverage is available for Navy personnel and their families, ensuring access to medical services;
  • Extensive Training Programs: The Navy offers world-class training programs that not only prepare individuals for their roles but also provide lifelong skills and experiences.

General Atomics

General Atomics is a prominent player in the aerospace and defense industry, known for its cutting-edge technologies and research. Here are the average salaries and benefits for various roles at General Atomics:

RoleSalary Range
Mechanical Engineers$80,000-$100,000
Research Scientists$90,000-$120,000

Benefits at General Atomics:

  • Retirement Plans: Employees can secure their financial future with retirement plans offered by General Atomics;
  • Health Insurance: The organization provides health insurance coverage, ensuring that employees and their families have access to healthcare services;
  • Education Assistance: General Atomics supports the educational aspirations of its employees by offering assistance for further studies and professional development.

Technology and Biotech: The Pioneers

Software Engineers

The technology and biotech industries are at the forefront of innovation and offer a plethora of career opportunities. Two notable organizations in these sectors, Qualcomm and Illumina, provide a wide range of roles with competitive salaries and attractive benefits.


Qualcomm is a global leader in wireless technology and semiconductor manufacturing. It is known for its contributions to the development of mobile communication technologies, making it an attractive workplace for tech enthusiasts. Below, we detail the average salaries and benefits for different positions at Qualcomm:

RoleSalary Range
Software Engineers$100,000-$130,000
Project Managers$90,000-$110,000

Benefits at Qualcomm:

  • Stock Options: Qualcomm offers stock options to its employees, allowing them to invest in the company’s success and benefit from its growth;
  • Health Benefits: Comprehensive health insurance plans are available to ensure the well-being of employees and their families;
  • Flexible Work Hours: Qualcomm recognizes the importance of work-life balance and provides flexible work hours to accommodate various schedules.


Illumina is a biotechnology company specializing in genetic sequencing and genomic analysis. It plays a pivotal role in advancing healthcare and life sciences. Here are the average salaries and benefits for various roles at Illumina:

RoleSalary Range
Lab Technicians$50,000-$70,000

Benefits at Illumina:

  • Comprehensive Health Insurance: Illumina offers extensive health insurance coverage to ensure that employees and their families have access to medical services;
  • Retirement Plans: The company provides retirement plans, helping employees secure their financial future;
  • Employee Stock Purchase Plan: Illumina offers an employee stock purchase plan, enabling staff to invest in the company and share in its success.

Education: Shaping the Future


The education sector is vital for shaping the future of individuals and society as a whole. In San Diego, the San Diego Unified School District and San Diego State University are key players in this sector, offering rewarding career opportunities.

San Diego Unified School District

The San Diego Unified School District is the second-largest school district in California, serving a diverse student population. It employs a wide range of professionals dedicated to education. Below are the average salaries and benefits for different roles within the district:

RoleSalary Range

Benefits in San Diego Unified School District:

  • Retirement Benefits: The district provides retirement benefits to ensure financial security for its employees in their post-career years;
  • Health Insurance: Comprehensive health insurance coverage is available to support the well-being of staff members and their families;
  • Professional Development: The district emphasizes professional development, offering opportunities for educators to enhance their skills and stay up-to-date with best practices.

San Diego State University

San Diego State University (SDSU) is a leading higher education institution in the region. It provides a diverse range of academic and administrative positions. Here are the average salaries and benefits for various roles at SDSU:

RoleSalary Range
Administrative Staff$50,000-$70,000

Benefits at San Diego State University:

  • Tuition Waiver: SDSU offers a tuition waiver program, allowing employees and their dependents to pursue higher education at the university with reduced or no tuition fees;
  • Health Insurance: Comprehensive health insurance coverage is available to support the health and well-being of employees and their families;
  • Retirement Plans: SDSU provides retirement plans to help employees plan for their financial future.

Tourism and Hospitality: The Heart of San Diego

Animal Trainer

San Diego is a renowned tourist destination, known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and diverse attractions. The tourism and hospitality industry in the city plays a pivotal role in welcoming visitors and ensuring their memorable experiences. This sector offers various career opportunities, with key players such as SeaWorld San Diego and various hotel chains providing jobs with competitive salaries and appealing benefits.

SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego is a world-famous marine theme park and oceanarium, attracting millions of visitors annually. It offers a wide range of roles, from animal trainers to customer service representatives. Below, we provide details on the average salaries and benefits associated with working at SeaWorld San Diego:

RoleSalary Range
Animal Trainers$40,000-$60,000
Customer Service Reps$30,000-$40,000

Benefits at SeaWorld San Diego:

  • Complimentary Park Admission: Employees enjoy the perk of complimentary park admission, allowing them and their families to experience the park’s attractions;
  • Health Benefits: SeaWorld San Diego provides health benefits to ensure the well-being of its staff;
  • Retirement Plans: The park offers retirement plans to help employees secure their financial future.

Hotel Chains

San Diego boasts a variety of hotels, from boutique establishments to well-known hotel chains, all contributing to the city’s vibrant hospitality sector. Hotel chains like Marriott, Hilton, and others offer a multitude of roles, including hotel managers and service staff. Below, we outline the average salaries and benefits associated with working in hotel chains in San Diego:

RoleSalary Range
Hotel Managers$60,000-$80,000
Service Staff$25,000-$40,000

Benefits in Hotel Chains:

  • Employee Discounts: Employees of hotel chains often enjoy significant discounts on accommodations, dining, and other services, making it a valuable perk for those who enjoy travel and hospitality;
  • Health Insurance: Comprehensive health insurance coverage is provided to support the health and well-being of employees and their families;
  • Flexible Scheduling: Many hotel chains offer flexible scheduling to accommodate the diverse needs and preferences of their staff, whether they are part-time or full-time employees.


San Diego’s top employers play a pivotal role in the city’s economy, offering competitive salaries and a wide array of benefits. These organizations not only shape the employment landscape but also contribute to the vibrancy and growth of the local community.


How do salaries in San Diego’s top employers compare nationally?

Salaries in San Diego’s top sectors are competitive with national averages, particularly in specialized roles like engineering and healthcare.

What kind of benefits are common among San Diego’s largest employers?

Common benefits include health insurance, retirement plans, professional development opportunities, and, in some industries, flexible work arrangements.

Are there opportunities for career advancement within these top employers?

Yes, many of the top employers in San Diego offer robust career advancement and professional development programs.

How do these employers contribute to San Diego’s overall economy?

These employers not only provide numerous jobs but also contribute significantly to the local economy through innovation, attracting talent, and supporting ancillary businesses.

What sectors offer the highest salaries in San Diego?

Technology, biotech, and defense typically offer the highest salaries, reflecting the specialized skills and expertise required in these fields.