2017 Central Florida Technical Talent Annual Report

executive summary

If your company will be hiring engineers, software developers, or IT professionals in 2017 begin planning early! The market is HOT and by the end of 2017 projections are that over 50% of all STEM jobs will be in computer science-related fields. STEM jobs are experiencing significant demand growth and a diminishing supply driving salaries way up. Over 90% area respondents for this survey reported that they were planning on hiring engineers, programmers, or IT contractors of some kind in 2017. Even companies in typically low-tech industries are now hiring engineers, web developers, programmers, and IT professionals. With posted job notices in the IT field going up annually at a rate of nearly 40%; the supply-demand gap will continue to widen for technical workers in 2017 and beyond.

Florida was ranked 4th in the nation for high-tech employment and 3rd for high-tech business locations by Forbes. Even with the third largest workforce in the United States and a high-tech employee base of 311,000+, the State faces a critical shortage for highly skilled labor. Central Florida, listed by Forbes as one of the top two locations for job growth for all U.S. metros, continues to have increasing numbers of tech and non-tech firms moving into the area every day.

Recently Orlando was listed as one of the best cities to invest in residential real estate in 2017 due in part to a driving demand for workers within virtually all sectors – especially health & technology. According to the Orlando Economic Development Commission, Orlando has a talent pipeline of more than 500,000 students within a 100 mile radius and is one of the nation’s fastest-growing population and employment markets. Over the last several years, Orlando has seen a 7.2% population growth and 4.4% annual job growth rate. Even with a young and well-educated workforce and a population in excess of 1.2 million, Orlando may represent the epicenter for this technical labor shortage.

Who’s hiring the technical talent in Central Florida?

From defense, tourism, space, to healthcare; Central Florida represents one of the most diverse economies in the nation. As the number of high-technology companies throughout the area continues to grow along with increased demand for high-tech workers from low-tech industries; maintaining a stainable pipeline of affordable, educated, highly skilled workers will continue to become more challenging.

Central Florida is one of the most desirable pro-business locations in the world with a zero state income tax, a relatively low cost of living, a warm climate, several of the top beaches on the planet, and world class attractions including Walt Disney World, Epcot, Universal Studios, Sea World, and Busch Gardens. The Pew Research Center ranked Orlando as the fourth most popular American city based on where people want to live. Forbes projects several Florida cities to be the fasted growing in the US for 2017 – with Orlando/Central Florida ranked #2. Following are some of the current business activities in the area.

Military & Government

Central Florida is a major provider of defense work. The region boasts about $4 billion in government contracts each year. According to the Orlando Business Journal, the top 5 Technology companies in the area based upon the number of Central Florida employees are:

  1. Lockheed Martin Corporation
  2. Harris Corporation
  3. Cubic Corporation
  4. Craig Technologies
  5. Riptide Software

Following are some of the contracts recently awarded.

Lockheed Martin Corporation

  • $1 billion contract from the U.S. Navy supporting the F-35 fighter jet (work split between Fort Worth and Orlando)
  • Was recently awarded a $9 billion contract to deliver 90 F-35’s over the course of several years (1600 jobs in Florida with 1300 in Orlando)
  • $427.3 million contract for design & production of the Hellfire missile (portions of work will be performed in Orlando)
  • $540.8 million Trident II missile production and deployed system support contract (some work to be completed at Cape Canaveral where they are looking for software engineers, system engineers, project engineers and more). The Trident is the Navy’s submarine-launched fleet missile.

Northrup Grumman CORPORATION [NGC]

NGC is completing a major 500,000-square-foot business complex in Melbourne and plans to hire nearly 2,000 workers. The complex likely will support the multibillion-dollar contract Northrop Grumman was awarded to design and build the U.S. Air Force’s stealth bomber aircraft. Open jobs include manufacturers, software engineers, systems engineers, analysts and more. Recent NGC awards include:

  • $17.8 million in contract recently awarded to the Melbourne Aerospace division to develop an Airborne Laser Mine Detection System [ALMDS] used to assess an area of mine threats and other dangers (all work will be performed in Melbourne)
  • $10.9 million contract for the production of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye — a radar aircraft that supports surrounding military units (work is being split Melbourne, FL and Syracuse, N.Y.)
  • $14.7 million contract to perform services for military-grade cargo aircraft
  • $16.9 million U.S Army contract to perform work on a targeting laser (work to be performed at the Apopka unit)
    Harris Corporation
  • $700 million contract with the State of Florida to provide a communications network connecting public safety, law enforcement, public schools and other state and local government agencies using the Harris Trusted Enterprise Network, a dedicated, private-core backbone managed and operated by Harris at the Melbourne, FL headquarters
  • $403 million Defense Logistics Agency contract for tactical radio spares and components
  • $16.1 million contract with the U.S. Air Force to support depot and sustainment engineering, repairable and disposable item management, stock, storage and issuance of spares, and hardware and software maintenance
    General Dynamics Corporation
  • $9 million U.S. Army contract to develop simulation software to support training for Military Intelligence warfighters (all work being completed in Orlando)
  • $115.7 million contract modification to continue to provide logistics support for the C-20 and C-37 aircraft platforms (work partially completed in Florida)
  • $58.6 million nuclear submarine maintenance contract (partial work being completed at Cape Canaveral where they seek to employ several engineers)

Central Florida is the modeling, simulation and training capital of the world and hosts the premier simulation conference known as IT/SEC being held every November at the Orlando expo center. According to the Orlando Economic Development Commission, $4 billion in military & simulation contracts flow through the area annually.

Orbital ATK

  • $78.1 million contract to build a test satellite, which may be launched by SpaceX or United Launch Alliance. The satellite will be equipped to detect nuclear detonations for the Pentagon and carry out a laser communications demonstration for NASA (work performed in Dulles, Va., and Cape Canaveral, FL)

AAR Corporation

  • $204.2 million contract for the transportation services to support the U.S. Africa Command Area of Responsibility (work to be completed in Palm Bay, FL)

The Space Center is projecting numerous new projects for 2017 , both public & private. Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Boeing both look to launch several private rockets during the next several years as NASA remains optimistic about the role of the space program within the new administration. Space Florida now manages the three-mile Kennedy Space Center shuttle runway, which it hopes to turn into a commercial hub for horizontal launches and landings by the likes of Virgin Galactic or Sierra Nevada Corp. At the space center’s Exploration Park, just outside the center’s south gate, Blue Origin and OneWeb Satellites are building large manufacturing centers for production of rockets and satellites.

Commercial Technology

AMD Orlando is the centerpiece for the company’s graphics PC business with the intellectual property developed here in Central Florida forming the basis for virtually all of today’s gaming console chip sets. Today AMD is working on next generation graphics for virtual and augmented reality applications and has recently committed to a AMD/Intel licensing deal utilizing the AMD graphics processing unit (GPU) technology.High tech Talent Is Here

Electronic Arts has one of its largest video game development studio’s [EA Tiburon] located in Orlando. An industry-leading developer of games like Madden NFL Football, NCAA Football, Tiger Woods PGA TOUR Golf and NBA LIVE; EA Tiburon employees about 700 programmers, testers, and IT professionals.


Healthcare & Medicine

Central Florida’s 650-acre Medical City in Lake Nona continues to experience high growth. According to the Orlando Business Journal the Lake Nona Medical City is projected to create up to 30,000 jobs and have a $7.6 billion impact on the economy over the next decade and will be the home of the University of Central Florida’s medical program. Recently, Orlando’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center opened the nation’s largest VA medical simulation facility. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) SimLEARN National Simulation Center is the operational hub for coordination of all VA simulation-based clinical training. The 51,000-square-foot facility will serve as the epicenter of training for thousands of healthcare providers from across the U.S

Attractions & Tourism

From Universal’s newest water park Volcano Bay scheduled to open this summer to Sea World’s newest virtual reality roller coaster, all of the major Central Florida attractions and many of the surrounding hotels have major expansion plans scheduled for 2017. In total the Central Florida tourism industry has an estimated $5 billion in capital investment improvements and additions.

Port Canaveral, one of the largest ports in the United States, is ranked as the world’s #2 busiest cruise port in multi-day embarkations. According to cruise consultants Bermello Ajamil & Partners, industry growth based on new ship construction will create a need for 10 additional terminals in Florida, and Port Canaveral is the only port with a real opportunity to service that demand.

R&D and Manufacturing

In east Orlando and adjacent to UCF is Central Florida’s Research Park. The seventh largest of its kind in the United States, it is home to several anchor companies including Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Hewlett-Packard. Along with numerous other high-technology enterprises, the CFRP is home to a number of incubator businesses as well.

BRIDG (formerly IMCAR) is the world’s first industry led consortium in advanced manufacturing or new semiconductor designs for microelectronics, nano-electronics, sensors, fiber optics and photonics. The 109,000 ft2 clean room and office space facility near Kissimmee is scheduled for completion in March 2017.


Aside from being Florida’s largest domestic airport, the Orlando International airport is the 14th busiest airport in the U.S. by total passenger traffic with over 40 million passengers annually. The airport will soon be starting a $1.8 billion South Terminal Complex (STC), which will be located directly south of the existing terminal. According to the Orlando Aviation Authority Phase I (which will be known as “Terminal C”) will encompass approximately 300 acres and will include new aircraft taxiways and aprons, a 2.7 million square foot terminal building with 16-24 gates, and a 6-story 5,000 space parking garage. Construction of the STC is expected to begin sometime in 2017 and will be operational by 2019.

Where is the talent coming from?

While much of the talent coming into the area is from other cities across the U.S., Florida has a substantial number of STEM graduates from the state Universities. According to rankings recently released by U.S. News and World Report, Florida is the number one state in the nation for higher education and is home to 12 public universities, 28,000 STEM graduates, and 18,000 business degree majors annually.  Our focus within this article will be with the Central Florida universities which comprise the majority of these numbers.

University of Florida [UF]

Located in the Gainesville, UF is the third largest university in Florida in 2017 with a total enrollment of more than 52,000 students. U.S. News & World Report ranked Florida as the fourteenth best public university in the United States and has ranked many of UF’s graduate schools in the top 50. The school has well-regarded graduate programs through the engineering school, Hough Graduate School of Business, Levin College of Law and the College of Medicine. UF offers more than 100 undergraduate majors and 200 graduate degrees.

University of South Florida [USF]

Located in Tampa, USF is ranked as the #1 producer of Fulbright Scholars in the United States for 2016-2017. The fourth largest public university in Florida with an enrollment of almost 50,000, USF has 14 colleges, offering more than 80 undergraduate majors and more than 130 graduate, specialist, and doctoral-level degree programs. The University of South Florida System includes three member institutions: USF Tampa, USF St. Petersburg, and USF Sarasota-Manatee. In its 2011 ranking, the Intellectual Property Owners Association placed USF 10th among all universities worldwide in the number of US patents granted.

University of Central Florida [UCF]

Located in Orlando with well over 64,000 students and over 210 degree programs in 13 colleges, UCF is the largest college in Florida by enrollment and is ranked #2 in the entire nation. UCF is ranked as a best-value university by The Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s, and one of the nation’s most affordable colleges by Forbes. UCF is home to the three-time national champion Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition Team, and its Programming Team ranks third in the nation and 28th in the world among 10,000 teams. Currently UCF produces more graduates hired into aerospace and defense companies than any other university in the nation.

Salary Data

Following is some approximate average salaries for job titles we have supported over the last year. This data is derived from 2016 employees, users, and past and present job advertisements on Indeed and from 2016 Cameron Resources Group placement data. These numbers may vary widely based upon a number of factors. Please call us at (407) 359-1557 for additional detail.

Average  Salaries
Software Architect$120,480$110,543$108,373
Software Engineer$100,015$82,057$91,608
Java Developer$102,244$92,252$90,317
.NET Developer$92,311$83,681$79,779
Firmware Engineer$107,610$76,310$75,955
Hardware Engineer$100,783$77,110$78,127
System Engineer$86,285$77,961$75,847
Web Developer$78,299$63,758$66,249
Electrical Engineer$81,361$78,502$76,159
Mechanical Engineer$78,305$75,452$82,233
Network Engineer$88,923$78,725$76,544
Electronics Technician$17.84/hr$15.34/hr$16.52/hr

Average 2016 starting salary data for University of Central Florida graduates:

Starting Salary
Software Engineer$57,410
Civil Engineer$57,046
Mechanical Engineer$74,000

Following is a Bureau of Labor Statistics report showing the trend for Professional and Business Services employment growth in the Central Florida area.

additional Notes

Several CEO’s, VP’s, Directors, and HR leaders were interviewed to get their read on the state of technical employment in the Central Florida area and projections for 2017. Following is some of the information provided during these interviews:

  • The Central Florida technical workforce shortage is not just limited to engineers, programmers, and IT but technicians as well. Companies are increasingly looking to hire technicians and new grads and train them for specific roles. Several companies offer in-house training & certification to new graduates.
  • In addition to several large companies looking to expand their workforce in the upcoming year, several smaller supporting companies are planning on ramping up hiring to meet demand as well and will be competing for much of the same talent.
  • The sweet spot for many of companies interviewed are technical professionals with 5-10 years’ experience and in certain cases an active Secret Clearance. Several efforts are underway to revitalize various area’s in order to attract this demographic.
  • Due to the diversity of industries within the central Florida area and the requirement for niche skills, many high tech workers are coming from out of the state.
  • Virtually everyone interviewed agreed that availability of technical talent for future projects is a big concern.
  • Most of those interviewed said that they handle recruiting internally and rely on posting jobs to various job sites such as Monster and Indeed.
  • A consistent problem that interviewers mentioned was the overwhelming number of unqualified candidates applying to open positions.
  • Central Florida becoming a Virtual Reality [VR] & Augmented Reality [AR] hotspot due to the gaming, simulation, medical and semiconductor environment.

Call (407) 359-1557 or email info@cameron-resources.com for detailed information about the area, companies, salaries or for a presentation!

Cameron Resources Group

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *