Charlotte, North Carolina, has been enjoying rapid growth in recent years, thanks to a number of factors. An attractive location along the Eastern seaboard, consistent public and private investment, and relatively low cost of living have all turned the city into an economic powerhouse that’s been difficult to disrupt.
It’s little wonder, then, that the city is regularly featured in lists of the fastest-growing areas in the U.S., as these statistics make clear:
- Over the past decade, Charlotte’s population has swelled by more than 888,000 individuals—a growth rate of nearly 60 percent.
- In 2017, the city was one of the top three fastest-growing big cities in the U.S. (behind Seattle and Fort Worth), with a growth rate of 1.8 percent that helped it cement its place as the 17th largest city in the country.
- Between 2018 and 2019, Charlotte saw a 2.3 percent increase in jobs, adding more than 27,300 jobs year over year.
- In 2018, the city ranked number five in Forbes’ list of the best cities for jobs.
All of this growth has had a direct impact on the city’s labor pool: Driving unemployment rates down to record lows and wages up as companies compete to attract the most qualified talent for open positions.
If you’re a job seeker in the Charlotte area, that means that it’s never been a better time to find high-paying work.
Below, we explore some of Charlotte’s most important industries, highest-paying jobs, and most in-demand career paths to help you find the best job for you. We also offer some tips and advice that can help you advance in your career or transition to a brand new one altogether.
Highest-Paying Jobs in Charlotte, NC
1. Information, Science & Technology
While it may not be as recognizable a name on the tech scene as Seattle, the Bay Area, or New York City, Charlotte has a thriving technology industry. In fact, according to the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, technology talent in Charlotte has grown by more than 77 percent between 2011 and 2016, one of the fastest growing rates in the country.
There are more than 45,000 technology workers in Charlotte, working at established companies like Microsoft, IBM, HP Enterprise Services, Oracle, and Cisco, as well as a vast number of startups. Though these workers are spread across all industries, the Financial Technology (FinTech) industry is an important one in the city. Other important industries within the technology sector include consulting, manufacturing, and healthcare.
According to an analysis of Charlotte area salaries conducted by Zippia (using Bureau of Labor Statistics data), these are the highest paying information, science, and technology-focused jobs in Charlotte:
- Computer and Information Systems Manager: $139,870
- Computer Network Architect: $110,800
- Software Developer (Systems Software): $107,380
- Information Security Analyst: $96,660
- Software Developer (Applications): $94,980
If you wish to work in Charlotte’s competitive information, science, and technology sector, it’s important to ensure that you are technically well-versed in the work. While it may be possible to learn some of the requisite skills on the job or through self-guided learning, earning a relevant degree or certification such as a Master of Science in Computer Science, Engineering Management, or Cybersecurity may make it easier to demonstrate your expertise to potential employers.
2. Health Care & Life Sciences
One in ten workers in the Charlotte area—more than 137,000 individuals—work in health care or the life sciences, making the industry an integral part of the region’s economy, to the tune of $13.4 billion.
While many of these professionals work at primary care facilities, hospitals, and private practice, it’s also important to note that Charlotte has a growing biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Statewide, the industry has expanded 31 percent since 2001 and now consists of more than 600 companies, many of which call the Charlotte area home.
While it might seem obvious for clinical roles (like surgeons, physicians, and general practitioners) to top the charts with some of the highest salaries out of all industries and sectors, even those working in non-clinical roles can net high salaries in the Charlotte area:
- Nurse Practitioner: $100,830
- Physician Assistant: $95,610
- Physical Therapist: $82,960
- Health Specialties Teacher (Postsecondary): $80,380
- Occupational Therapist: $79,220
Those interested in working in a patient-facing role will find it necessary to earn a relevant degree such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. those interested in a more research-focused role may wish to advance their education even further by earning an advanced degree in health informatics or regulatory affairs.
3. Financial Services & Business
Charlotte is the third largest banking center in the United States, with more than $2.3 trillion of assets held in the region’s banks. In total, the city’s financial services industry employs more than 82,000 workers, including two times the national average for financial analysts and three times the national average for financial examiners and credit analysts. Beyond this, there are more than 1,000 international firms located in the Charlotte region, from at least 45 different countries, which together employ more than 66,000 workers.
With such a large concentration of financial institutions and international businesses, the demand for leadership talent runs high. As might be expected, job titles in this sector boast some of the highest salaries in the entire Charlotte metro area, including:
- Chief Executives: $222,910
- Financial Managers: $152,890
- Sales Managers: $142,890
- Compensation and Benefits Managers: $139,550
- Marketing Managers: $136,580
For many, earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) can serve as a way into this competitive industry—making it a popular degree choice. Of course, other degrees such as a Master of Science in Innovation, Leadership, or Organizational Communication are less common among applicants and can serve as a differentiator during the application process.
Standing Out From the Crowd
If you’re based in the Charlotte area and on the job hunt, it’s important to keep in mind that tightening labor pool has led to increased competition for the most coveted jobs. This, of course, means that it can be more challenging than ever to cut through the noise, impress a hiring manager, and advance further in the application process. Fortunately, as discussed above, there are steps you can take to increase the likelihood of being chosen for one of these highly-desirable positions.
The academic programs offered by Northeastern University-Charlotte can help. By bringing together challenging academics, experiential learning, and faculty members with industry experience, they’re designed to meet the unique needs of Charlotte area businesses.