Success in tomorrow’s economy will require a broadly skilled workforce.  Colorado has one of the nation’s most educated, technically savvy workforces contributing to its strong position in a broad range of industries. Our young, skilled and growing workforce makes a critical contribution to the vitality of the Colorado economy.

World-class educational programs and research facilities and a state commitment to supporting customized job training programs assure that our workforce skills will remain cutting edge, allowing employers to compete in a global economy.

Colorado talent facts in our key industries

Talent is the most powerful incentive a state can offer and directly impacts a company’s bottom line.

  • Advanced Manufacturing: During 2012, more than 600 degrees in the field of precision production were awarded in Colorado, an increase of more than 250% from a decade prior.
  • Aerospace: With more than 2,400 employed, there is a 60% higher concentration of aerospace engineers in Colorado than the U.S. as a whole.
  • Bioscience: In 2012, nearly 2,500 degrees were awarded in the field of biological and biomedical sciences, more than a 50% increase from a decade earlier.
  • Defense & Homeland Security: While over the past decade military occupations have decreased nationally, in Colorado, military occupations have increased by nearly 12,500.
  • Energy & Natural Resources: Colorado has nearly a 270% higher concentration of mining and geological engineers than the U.S. as a whole
  • Financial Services: From 2004 to 2013, those employed as securities, commodities and financial services sales agents increased in Colorado by nearly 43%.
  • Food & Agriculture: People employed as farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers have increased by more than 10% over the last decade.
  • Health & Wellness: With the addition of more than 4,000 jobs over the past decade, health care support occupations increased by 33% in Colorado – the most of any major occupational grouping.
  • Infrastructure Engineering: There are more female civil engineers in Colorado (1,400 in this discipline) than any other field of engineering.
  • Technology & Information: In 2013, of the nearly 105,000 workers employed in computer occupations, more than 20% are application software developers.
  • Transportation & Logistics: While the nation added only 332 jobs – or less than 1% - air transportation workers over the past decade added more than 6% in this occupational grouping.
  • Tourism & Outdoor Recreation: occupations in the tourism and outdoor recreation industries account for 4.86% of Colorado’s workforce, with 7,100 companies in this industry.

Source: EMSI Analyst, 2014.2

Colorado workers are also exceptionally productive, consistently ranking in the top ten for per capita gross state product. Forbes Magazine recently deemed Colorado to have one of the two best labor pools in the country. Colorado has the highest amount of collaborative workspace (including incubators, accelerators and coworking spaces) per one million people, according to Deskwanted, GmbH.

Colorado Talent/Entrepreneurial Rankings:

  • 1st best state for labor supply
  • 2nd best state to start a business
  • 4th for number of new companies per 1,000 employees
  • 4th for proprietors as a percentage of total employment
  • 5th best state to make a living
  • 4th top state for entrepreneurial activity
  • 5th hot spot for startup IT jobs
  • 8th top state for talent pipeline


Coloradans are among the nation’s most highly educated populations, ranking 2nd in the number of citizens with a bachelor’s degree. Our colleges and universities offer a broad range of business, management, engineering and technical degrees, and most graduates remain in Colorado to pursue their careers.  

Investing in primary education is critical to ensure that the youth of today are prepared to be the workforce and leaders of tomorrow. Colorado supports this through the P-20 education innovation, which includes college and career readiness and educator effectiveness, as well as the pre-K-12 accountability.

In academic year 2012-2013, a total of 52,715 degrees and certificates were awarded.  This includes 10,136 certificates, 8,728 associate degrees, 24,766 bachelor’s degrees and 9,085 graduate degrees.  

In the Colorado higher education system, there are over 470 institutions, educating approximately 400,000 students. Click here to see a list of all higher education institutions in Colorado.

Educational Attainment  High School Graduates  College Graduates
Colorado  88.7% 35.5%
U.S.  84.2% 27.2%

Colorado educational statistics

  • The Aerospace/Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering program at the University of Colorado Boulder is ranked the 9th best in the nation. Source: EMSI Analyst, 2014.2
  • The Atomic/Molecular/Optical Physics Program at the University of Colorado Boulder is ranked as the best in the nation.  Source: US News & World Report, Best Colleges and Universities 2014
  • During 2012, more than 8,200 Business Administration and Management degrees were awarded. Source: EMSI Analyst, 2014.2
  • During 2012, nearly 18,200 degrees in health professions were awarded. Source: EMSI Analyst, 2014.2
  • More than 2,500 degrees in the field of computer and information sciences were awarded to Colorado students during 2012. Source: EMSI Analyst, 2014.2
  • In 2012, Colorado awarded 12.5% of degrees in STEM fields. Source: EMSI Analyst, 2014.2
  • University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is the first school to offer a bachelor’s degree with a core on innovation.

Research and Development Laboratories in Colorado

Colorado is a global leader in research, technology innovation, and commercialization, and is home to some of the most advanced research laboratories in the world. There are 24 federal research and development laboratories in Colorado.

  • Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of the Interior
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere
  • Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences
  • JILA
  • Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics
  • National Ecological Observatory Network
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Earth System Research Laboratory, National Geophysical Data Center, National Weather Service, National Enviroinmental Satellite, Data, and Information Services, Space Weather Prediction Center
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • National Telecommunications and Information Administration
  • University Corporation for Atmospheric Research – National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service – Natural Resources Research Center, National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, Crops Research Laboratory, Central Great Plains Research Station
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture – Rocky Mountain Research StatioT/FRA – Transportation Technology Center
  • U.S. Air Force Academy
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • CO-LABS, a consortium of federally funded scientific laboratories, 
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture – National Wildlife Research Center
  • DOT/FRA – Transportation Technology Center
  • U.S. Air Force Academy
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • CO-LABS, a consortium of federally funded scientific laboratories, universities, businesses, local governments and community leaders, was organized to establish Colorado as a global leader in research, technology innovation, and commercialization.

To view a map of Colorado’s Innovation Resources, including federal labs and higher education institutions, visit Colorado Innovation Network's, Innovation Resources Map.

Colorado Job Training Programs

Bridging the gap between business needs and future employees is critical to ensure long-term success of a business.  Colorado offers two customized job training programs for companies that are locating or expanding in Colorado to ensure that the local workforce has the required technical skills:

  • Colorado First Customized Job Training Program provides job training funds to assist individual businesses in designing specialized training programs. Colorado First is intended for companies that are relocating to Colorado or hiring new employees. Group training for small businesses with similar needs is available. Learn more
  • Colorado Existing Industry Job Training Program provides assistance to established Colorado businesses in order to remain competitive. Learn more

For more information on these job training programs, contact Jessica Erickson