San Diego is a vibrant, active, and thriving city. However, to fully understand the San Diego employment dynamic, you have to realize that San Diego is unlike most other cities. While tens of thousands of companies call San Diego home, only a few major corporations are in the mix. In fact, 57% of the companies in San Diego employee four people or less! Even when you look beyond the self-employed companies or businesses, small business dominates San Diego at every level.

San Diego is a premier city in which to live, work, and raise a family. Salaries tend to be higher than other cities in California, and San Diego is also cutting edge when it comes to people breaking social barriers. Companies that encourage women and other minorities to thrive, and businesses that are looking to shape the future of technology are sinking roots in San Diego and growing dramatically.

Government and education

The next dynamic to consider with the business footprint of San Diego is that the government (including the United States Navy) are the primary employers of the area. The United States Navy employs 30,664 employees.

University of California, San Diego comes in second with 28,071 employees. This famous university is known for the excellent higher education they provide their students. The research at the undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral level, and the professional school is among the best in the country.

Other major players are San Diego County who employs 15,727 people, and the City of San Diego employees 10,026. Of course, this includes the San Diego Unified School District, which is the largest school district in the state. With more than 132,000 students from preschool through 12th grade, the Unified School District employees more than 15,000 people.

Health facilities and medical employers

Sharp Healthcare is the top medical facility in San Diego. This not-for-profit health care giant employees more than 16,000 people.

Scripps Health, Kaiser Permanente, and UCSD Medical Center are also leaders in the health care of the city.

Major Corporations

With just under 10,000 employees, Qualcomm Incorporated is a leading employer in San Diego. This company is always on the forefront of technology, written word, streaming content, video, audio, games, and virtually any mind grasping industry. This multi-billion-dollarwireless technology leader is valued at over three times the closest competitor.


San Diego is home to California Manufacturers & Technology Association. This is due to a significant “cluster” of well-known companies that manufacture goods for every industry. Names such as the following make up this impressive group.

It is worth noting that many big players have bases in San Diego, even if not their home base. For example, Cricket Wireless, which was bought by AT&T, has a large facility in San Diego. This is a big name and big business. If the dynamics of the workforce were different, they would be more of a presence. However, they are big players and feel right at home in the city of San Diego.