When we think of careers in Los Angeles, most people’s minds go straight to Hollywood. You’re either an actor or an aspiring actor (or an aspiring director, production designer, or costume designer). But the truth is that Los Angeles is a BIG city and the film industry, though famous, is a very small part of it. If you’re looking for a promising career in Los Angeles there are other routes you can take that will be more practical, more lucrative, and more reliable.
First, we’re going to look at the most in-demand careers in Los Angeles to see what the market is demanding right now. Then, we’re going to look at the highest-paying careers in Los Angeles to see the kind of money these people are pulling down. Hopefully these two metrics will give you a good indication of what you can expect when looking for a career in Los Angeles.
Most In-Demand Careers in Los Angeles
There are always some jobs that will always need to be done. Then there are some jobs that are brand new and need new bodies and new minds. Here are some of the most in-demand careers in Los Angeles.
There is an enormous shortage in skilled labor in the United States, and Los Angeles is no exception. As of 2021, the Association for Builders and Contractors’ economists say that there are more than 500,000 unfilled construction jobs in America. Contractors and building companies are desperate to find workers, and they’re paying top dollar and providing on-the-job training. If you leave high school and go into an apprenticeship program (where you get paid as you learn), you can be earning upwards of $60k or $70k as an electrician, plumber, carpenter in just a few short years. It’s really a fast track career that bypasses college and gets you into a good-paying job in a relatively short amount of time.
There’s also unskilled labor jobs available—lots of them—in everything from framing to roofing. While they don’t pay as well as apprenticed skilled-labor positions, they’re still far better than minimum wage. An unskilled labor job in Los Angeles averages at about $33,000 per year.
The tech industry is exploding in Los Angeles, as evidenced by the high demand for web developers (and developers of all stripes, as we’ll see below). Web developers create websites, and if you don’t think there’s a market for creating websites, then you must not be living in the same century as the rest of us. Hundreds of thousands of new websites are created every month worldwide. There will always be a need for developers to work with both startups and mom-and-pop shops, as well as the biggest companies of all. For every website you visit every day, there is a team of web developers there to make sure it runs smoothly.
A college degree is not required for a web developer position, and there are a huge number of self-taught developers getting paid very well (because they’ve been building websites since they were old enough to use a computer). That said, there are college courses you can take to get you into the field, and you don’t have to be a child prodigy to be able to create a good website design business.
The average salary for a web developer in Los Angeles is $63,000 with a growth rate of 13%.
A software developer is the creative mind behind every bit of software, whether it’s made for doing accounting or playing games or designing graphics. A typical software engineer has a bachelor’s degree in computer science or software engineering. Math is also helpful. As you rise in the ranks of software development, a master’s degree may be required, and it’s always helpful to have a few business classes under your belt in case you ever end up in a managerial role.
Software developers are in charge of the entire process of a program, starting with picking the brain of clients for their ideas to executing the journey to the finished product. The developer plans the program’s core functionalities, determines its user requirements, and then gives instructions to programmers, who help to make the product a reality.
The average salary of a software developer in Los Angeles is $84,000, and it has a job growth rate of 21%.
It’s a testament to how far the green economy has grown that wind turbine technicians are not only an in-demand job, but they are seeing the highest growth rate of any major job in California right now, at 56%.
Also known as windtechs, wind turbine technicians install, maintain, and repair wind turbines. To become a windtech you would attend a technical school for typically two years. After school, they get one year of on-the-job training that is usually specific to a certain manufacturer. This education will include a broad range of courses including safety, electrical work, hydraulics, mechanical systems and computers.
Becoming a windtech does have some strict physical requirements. Typically, you must be able to scale ladders 260 feet or higher, while carrying more than 45 pounds of equipment.
Still, with the highest job growth rate in California and an average starting salary of $44,000, it’s a good career choice for many.
Highest Paying Careers in Los Angeles
When we’re talking about the highest paying careers in Los Angeles, we’re looking at the median salary, not the average. Why? Because there will always be the multi-million dollar actor who makes acting seem like an extremely lucrative gig (even though most actors struggle to make ends meet). Meanwhile the median will find the salary that is right in the middle of everyone’s salary so you can really see a more realistic picture of what the industry salary would be. These are the median base salaries of the highest paid jobs in Los Angeles.
A solution architect is often the pinnacle of the software development world. Solution architects are the people who work with companies to help come up with a solution that builds and integrates computer systems to meet specific needs. They also get involved with a project when the computer systems analyst is developing requirements. They play an integral role throughout the balance of the project. They oversee development, and play a managerial role that is intended to provide motivation and guidance to the development team throughout the systems development life cycle. The solutions architect is the ultimate person responsible for the overarching vision that underlies the solution and the execution of that vision.
The median base salary for a solution architect is $130,000.
We all know what an attorney does, or at least we think we do if we watch courtroom TV. However, being an attorney means you have a million and one choices to decide the work you actually want to do. For example, attorneys can work in the justice system, or they can work as a corporate in-house attorney, or they can even have their own private practice. Even after looking at the difference jobs attorneys can have, there is still an expansive amount of career options. Attorneys can enter the field of defense, bankruptcy, patent, personal injury, and many more. There are as many types of lawyers as there are laws (and that means A LOT).
The median base salary for an attorney in Los Angeles is $125,000.
We talked about software developers above, and there are a lot of similarities between a software developer and a software engineer. In fact, many people consider them the same thing. The difference is often one of seniority in the company: the programmer at the bottom, the developer in the middle, and the engineer at the top. Engineers have degrees and experience that the other two don’t, and while they may be doing the same types of work, they are often in more of a managerial role—or, if not directly managing employees, they manage the projects that they’re all working on.
The median base salary of a software engineer in Los Angeles is $95,000. The biggest difference, and the reason that up-and-coming jobseekers should take notice, is that there are probably ten to twenty times the job openings for software engineers than there are for attorneys. It may not pay as well, but it’s a whole lot easier to find a job.
Engineer (including electrical, mechanical, structural and process engineers)
Engineers are always in high demand, just as construction is always in demand. Engineers are an essential part of the building process and building is booming in southern California (as well as most of the West). No matter what type of engineering you go into, you’re likely to find a stable job fairly easily, and get paid a decent wage.
The median base salary of an engineer in Los Angeles is $84,000.
This is just a selection of the many types of jobs that are hot right now in Los Angeles. Odds are good that construction and engineering, and all things related to computers, will continue to boom. But whether you’re looking at an advanced degree, a four-year school, a two-year training course, or an apprenticeship, there will definitely be opportunities available to you.
Are you ready to take your career to the next level?