Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board: HECB WA
Although Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma are the state's largest cities, other cities host the state's largest employers, including Redmond that has the Microsoft Corporation with an estimated 35,000 employees. Other large employers include Sea Tac International Airport in Seattle, which has approximately 21,000 employees, and Providence Health & Services headquarters in Renton, which has about 19,000 workers. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the top industries in Washington are similar to other states: Office and Administrative Support Occupations, Sales and Related Occupations, and Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations. Typically, a job applicant with a postsecondary education or degree can earn a higher wage and qualify for better benefits, such as health insurance. For example, Executive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants have a mean annual wage of $51,640, but Office Clerks with a high school diploma earn about $31,920.
The top educational institutions are in the public university system, which has high ratings for educational excellence, but the state has an extensive network of community colleges and private colleges. Washington officials coordinate the needs of the state's top industries with the educational curriculum. According to the BLS report on 2011 wages, Washington's top paying careers that require a degree are doctors, such as Obstetricians and Gynecologists at $238,690, Chief Executives at $190,970 and Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers at $135,780. Although doctors need doctorate degrees, executives, pilots and flight engineers usually need a bachelor or master degree.
Students often get their associate career training degrees, such as supervisory management or business management, that allow them to earn more than workers with no postsecondary education. Another popular plan is to obtain a transfer associate degree at a community college and transfer to one of Washington's four-year colleges to earn a bachelor degree. An example of a job requiring a minimum of an associate career training degree is an air traffic controller that has a mean annual wage of $115,200 in Washington.