Known for both a diversified economy and a robust energy sector, Denver has enjoyed steady growth since the 1950s. The city is now home to nearly three million people, and about half the population is employed. While some of the costs of living are high in Denver, there are also many salaries high enough to cover these costs.
“(Denver’s) major industry sectors are aerospace, broadcast and telecommunications, healthcare and wellness, financial services, bioscience, energy, and IT-software,” according to the Denver city website.
According to a recent 2022 study, Colorado ranked sixth among U.S. states in the strength of its economy. The diversity of its workforce is a major theme in the success of Denver’s economy.
Is Living in Denver Affordable?
The cost-of-living in Denver is higher in certain ways compared to the national average. Housing, health care, and transportation are all above the national average. On the other hand, food and energy are less expensive than the national average, according to Salary.com
Find out what you should be making for where you live with SkillsetGroup's income map and geographic salary projections!
What Careers Are in High Demand in Colorado?
The energy sector is a major employer in Denver. Ranked no. 3 worldwide as an oil and gas city by industry trade publication Rigzone, Denver has a lot to offer anyone involved in this segment of the economy.
For example, the average industrial engineer in Denver can expect to make about $104,000 per year, according to SkillsetGroup’s 2023 Salary Guides. Our geographically targeted salary guides offer projections for more than 260 professional positions across industries. An industrial engineer on the high end of the salary schedule could stand to make as much as $114,400 per year. Compare that to an average salary of $89,950, nationwide, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
On the other hand, some jobs track the national salary averages or lag behind. A chemical engineer in Denver makes about $100,000 on average, compared with an average national salary of $105,550, according to the BLS.
Aerospace is another major employer in the Denver, Colorado area. Lockheed-Martin, for instance, is just one of dozens of aerospace companies hiring in Denver. On average, program managers at an aerospace company in Denver can expect to make an annual salary for of $107,460. That compares with only $94,500m, on average, nationally.
Is it Easy to Find a Job in Denver?
Denver’s unemployment rate sits at just 2.9%, which is roughly the same as its rate prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Customer service representative turns out to be the most common job in Denver, according to Zippia. The average customer service representative in Denver earns $45,000 per year. Zippia found that cashiers were next most common, followed by interns, administrative assistants, and sales associates.
While those are the most common jobs in Denver, there are some jobs that are more in-demand. Leading the list of in-demand jobs in Denver is registered nurse, followed by account executive, sales associate, and security officer. For a point of reference, the average sales account manager in Denver earns about $90,500 per year.
According to a 2021 survey, the most popular job in Denver is retail salesperson, followed by fast food and counter worker, registered nurse, and customer service representative.
Which Jobs Have the Highest Salaries in Denver?
Based on SkillsetGroup’s 2023 Salary Guides, finance and accounting professionals tend to make the highest salaries. The average accounting manager in Denver, for instance, earns $181,500. That’s followed by account sales representatives, account managers, and tax accountants. Tax accountants in Denver make about $90,000 on average.
This leaves out the IT sector, however. Salaries for software engineering jobs, IT project managers, web developers and other IT jobs are soaring across the U.S., and they don’t adjust as much geographically.
Is living in Denver affordable? What salary do you need to live in Denver?
Denver has a thriving tech culture, booming aerospace industry and robust energy sector. It’s a great place to live and work, with easy access to nature and plenty of sunshine throughout the year. All of that does come at a cost, however.
Unfortunately, the cost of rent has surged by more than 45% between 2021 and 2022 in Denver, making it the 9th most expensive metropolitan area in the U.S. in terms of rent. The median rent in Denver is $2,550 as of Aug. 2022. Meanwhile the median sales price on a home stands at $554,990.
If you can afford the rent, you’ll at least save a little at the dinner table. Food prices in Denver are lower than the national average. So you can afford to get that nicer cheese in Denver grocery stores.
You may also be able to save some cash by walking or cycling instead of driving in Denver. Walkscore names it the 16th-most-walkable city in America. Denver already has 196 miles of on-street bike lanes built, with plans for another 270 miles of bike paths in the future.