Top industries and employers in the San Diego metro area

Nearly 3.3 million people make up the local economy.

East Village Construction

Construction — our No. 6 industry.

Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

Table of Contents

More than 3.286 million people (and thousands of businesses) contribute to San Diego County’s $240 billion economy. But have you ever wondered about the heaviest hitters in America’s Finest City?

Consider this San Diego Business 101 — your guide to our region’s 7 key industries and 10 major employers.

Note: When we say San Diego metro area, that refers to all areas in the county’s five districts.

🔑 The key industries

There are seven key industries — all with 100,000+ employees — that represent ~67.5% of the San Diego metro area’s economy, based on data from the US Census Bureau. We’ve listed them in order of employment numbers.

Health care + social assistance | 13.6% or 208,979 employees
As a county with millions of people, locals look to our healthcare system for support. Many services are provided outside clinical settings to improve community wellbeing and help residents lead healthy lives.

Professional, scientific + technical services | 12% or 183,757 employees
This sector encompasses many of the jobs that help San Diego get recognized for advancing our body of knowledge and improving productivity. Many companies fall into this category — from the engineers at Sempra Energy to the developers at Qualcomm.

Retail trade | 10.3% or 158,582 employees
Ka-ching — every time you make a purchase you’re helping the local retail industry. Any position required to put products on shelves falls into this category, from the person bagging groceries to the individual monitoring inventory across a chain of stores.

Manufacturing | 9.7% or 149,802 employees
We already talked about buying items, but what about making them? The people responsible for assembling goods fall into this category, like the people who make glucose monitors at DexCom, Inc. or the employees making electronics at Sony.

Education | 8.6% or 131,690 employees
San Diego County has 42 school districts — that’s a lot of teachers + staff. Beyond that, we have many universities, with UC San Diego and San Diego State University being the largest.

Construction | 6.8% or 105,112 employees
San Diego wasn’t built in a day. In fact, there’s always construction, and companies in this industry work to improve our buildings and keep this city America’s Finest.

Accommodation + food services | 6.5% or 100,374 employees
Tourism and hospitality play important roles in our economy and help many locals earn a living. Some of our most luxuriousand delicious — attractions fall into this category, including visits to the Hotel del Coronado and our craft beer scene.

Note: The US Census Bureau collects data for civilian employees. There are approximately 110,000 active-duty service members in San Diego County, and over 35,000 civilian jobs in defense-related fields.

💼 The major players

Now that we’ve established the major industries, we bet you’re curious for specific names. Whether you’re job hunting (or just “casually prospecting”), here are 10 major employersall that employ more than 8.40% of workers.

Geisel Library at UC San Diego

Geisel Library, a landmark on the UC San Diego campus in La Jolla.

UC San Diego
35,802 employees | Education + health care | Search jobs
As one of the major universities + healthcare systems in our county, UC San Diego employs thousands of locals. Opportunities range from medical services, to research, to administrative specialities.

Sharp Healthcare
19,468 employees | Health care | Search jobs
As a local healthcare leader, Sharp offers medical services including urgent care + specialized treatments. Open positions range from doctors, healthcare administration, and insurance specialists.

County of San Diego
17,954 employees | Government | Search jobs
The County of San Diego is a local government employer with positions spanning many fields that help our region go ‘round. This includes employment in mental health services, correctional facilities, and infrastructure maintenance.

City of San Diego
11,820 employees | Government | Search jobs
The city supports many departments that provide citizens with resources and services to improve daily life. This includes positions in parks and recreation, public safety, and urban planning.

General Atomics
6,745 employees | Energy + defense | Search jobs
This company employs engineers, researchers, scientists, and related fields to advance + develop technology. Its speciality is unmanned aircraft, often used for radar surveillance.

San Diego State University
6,454 employees | Education | Search jobs
SDSU employs people in educational + research roles. The public university also has positions in student affairs and hires individuals to maintain daily operations.

Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego
5,711 employees | Health care | Search jobs
Focusing on our youngest residents, this hospital is a leader in providing comprehensive and specialized care. Open positions are in fields like nursing, IT, and patient access.

San Diego Community College District
5,400 employees | Education | Search jobs
As California’s second largest community college district, this organization staffs multiple campuses for academic and non-academic roles.

Sempra Energy
5,063 employees | Energy | Search jobs
This company specializes in clean energy infrastructure, and hires for roles in engineering + financial services. SDG&E is one of its subsidiaries.

YMCA of San Diego County
5,057 employees | Recreation | Search jobs
This community center offers fitness services, family care, and events at 14 locations across the county.

This information is derived from the most recent data published by the San Diego County Annual Comprehensive Financial Report.