There are plenty of reasons to live in Orlando, but for those working in the tech industry, The City Beautiful is one of the best places to be. Orlando ranks ninth for fastest-growing tech hubs by job growth in the U.S., according to Best Colleges.
Orlando’s tech industry job growth is projected to be 26.8% — more than double the growth for computer and information technology jobs nationally by 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Best Colleges rankings considers an analysis of the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages and a 2022 report by 24/7 Wall St.
“Orlando offers resources for startups and tech professionals through its tech hub portal,” Best Colleges stated in its rankings. “Professionals can find peer networking, professional development and other career opportunities. Startups can also recruit workers by posting jobs and showcasing innovation in the industry.”
Annually UCF produces a high volume of top talent to the tech field. In the 2022-23 academic year thus far, UCF has awarded more than 4,600 degrees in STEM fields to graduates.
STEM fields emphasize technology, innovation, problem-solving, and critical thinking and are in high demand by employers throughout Central Florida and the state. STEM workers, on average, earn higher salaries and can extend across various fields, including advanced manufacturing, aerospace, artificial intelligence, biomedical sciences, cybersecurity, engineering, game development and nursing.
Faculty lead highly regarded programs across tech-related fields at UCF, with computing being a strong focus. UCF ranks No. 57 for graduate computer engineering, No. 70 for computer science graduate programs and No. 86 for computer science undergraduate programs, according to U.S. News & World Report. The organization also ranks UCF No. 20 for innovation in the nation.
“If you look at high-tech centers around the world, they emerge close to universities,” says Christo Pirinsky, co-director of UCF’s fintech graduate program, which is the first of degree of its kind in Florida and provides graduates with employable technical skills in areas such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, crowdfunding, cybersecurity, mobile application development and peer-to-peer lending.
UCF is a top producer of talent for the digital media and video game industry. This year, UCF’s graduate game design program, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA), ranks No. 2 — its fourth consecutive year in the top two, according to The Princeton Review and PC Gamer. FIEA has produced 940 graduates and about half are employed in Central Florida.
Orlando is known as the modeling and simulation capital of the world — and UCF’s Institute of Simulation and Training has played a critical role in the industry’s growth in the region for 40 years through key partnerships with the government. Through the School of Modeling, Simulation and Training, which was established in 2018, UCF is training individuals already in the tech space how to take their talents to the next level.
UCF is also a partner with several key tech companies across the region, such as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman through the college work experience programs, which provide student industry connections before they even graduate.
In 2022, Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis ranked the Orlando region No. 25 in the nation and No. 1 in Florida for producing tech talent. Last year, UCF ranked the No. 2 university in Florida and No. 8 nationally for producing highly skilled employees for some of the world’s most prominent technology companies, according to a survey from TonerGiant.
“I’ve only been in Central Florida for a few years and can feel the reputation as a hub of technology is at an inflection point,” says Ajai Singh, chair of UCF’s Department of Finance, who helped establish the university’s fintech program. “The corporate world knows it. Other schools know it. I believe everyone is about to know it.”