Engineering: Strength in Numbers

  • 6,590 engineering employees (2014)
  • $97,800 engineering average annual salary, 10.5% higher than the national average (2013)

World-class sums up the engineering hub. The large base of scientific and technical talent, easy global access and proximity to college and university programs gains recognition within Denver South, Colorado, and well beyond.

The engineering services cluster includes companies that provide a full spectrum of planning, design, development, operations, and maintenance of critical structures, machinery, and equipment. These companies provide engineering services for all types of industries ranging from construction and transportation to manufacturing and energy. More specifically, the cluster includes companies that implement complex projects from initial concept to delivery and operation and provide consultancy services, prepare feasibility studies, prepare preliminary and final plans and designs, provide technical services during the construction or installation phase, inspection and evaluation of engineering projects, and related services. This industry cluster report includes companies involved in all aspects of engineering services, as opposed to engineering occupations since engineers may be focused on a full range of industries.

The Denver South region’s[1] talented workforce and innovative capacity create a world-class hub for engineering services companies and industry activities. With 6,580 engineering services workers in nearly 300 companies, the Denver South region has the highest employment concentration in 2013 out of the 50 largest metropolitan areas. The Denver South region was followed by the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan statistical area (MSA), the Kansas City, Mo.-Kan. MSA, the Richmond, Va. MSA, and the Raleigh, N.C. MSA. As a result of this high concentration of engineering services employees, the region is a preferred destination for new companies. Indeed, 25 percent of all engineering services employment in the nine-county region Metro Denver and Northern Colorado region[2] is located in the Denver South region. Notable company announcements in 2013 included:

  • Merrick & Company opened its newly located corporate headquarters in Greenwood Village in May 2013. The company moved from Aurora to One Greenwood Corporate Center and brought approximately 280 employees to the new office location. Merrick & Company cited the site’s accommodative facility, proximity to light rail, and ample parking as key factors in its location decision.
  • The Colorado Department of Transportation selected Centennial-based Felsburg Holt & Ullevig as one of two design-built teams to complete improvements to U.S. 6 between I-25 and Knox Ct. The $98 million project will address numerous safety and operational issues, replace five bridges that are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and improve the Federal Boulevard/U.S. 6 interchange. The project is slated for completion by the end of July 2016.
  • The City and County of Denver selected Greenwood Village-based Merrick & Company to provide professional engineering and design services for a multi-use path along the east side of Inca Street between 38th Avenue and 45th Avenue. The project will also improve the existing 38th Avenue Underpass including additional lighting, sidewalk repair, and refurbishment of the underpass walls and railings and will provide pedestrian and bicycle access to the planned commuter rail station at 41st Avenue and Fox Street. The project design is slated for mid-2014.
  • GEI Consultants, Inc. was awarded several contracts through its Denver South office for a variety of geotechnical, environmental consulting, and planning services related to the water safety and operations in Metro Denver. Included are design and consulting services for an Aquifer Storage and Recovery pilot well system in the Town Of Castle Rock and infrastructure to connect water pipelines to Rueter-Hess Reservoir for the Parker Water and Sanitation District to move water to multiple locations and provide increased capacity.
  • URS Corporation was selected by the Colorado Department of Transportation to provide infrastructure repairs in the state after the South Platte River Basin flooding in September 2013. The company partnered with subcontractor Lawrence Construction Company to conduct permanent and temporary repair work on state highways located east of I-25. The company has a significant presence in the Denver South region.
  • Douglas County-based CH2M Hill was named to Fortune’s 2013 list of the “World’s Most Admired Companies.” Criteria for the ranking included innovation, social responsibility, global competitiveness, and product quality. The company ranked fourth in the engineering and construction industry and received top marks in innovation and social responsibility.
  • CH2M Hill was named to Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list. The company was recognized for deploying a new CH2M Hill University website featuring its eight schools of learning and received recognition for promoting transparency between senior leaders and employees.

The engineering services cluster includes companies that apply physical laws and principles of engineering in the design, development, and utilization of machines, materials, instruments, structures, processes, and systems. The engineering services cluster consists of one, six-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code (541330).

Denver South

United States

Direct Employment, 2013



Number of Direct Companies, 2013



One-Year Direct Employment Growth, 2012-2013



Five-Year Direct Employment Growth, 2008-2013



Avg. Annual Direct Employment Growth, 2008-2013



Direct Employment Concentration



Sources: Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. Marketplace database, July-Sept. 2007-2010; Market Analysis Profile, 2011-2013;

Development Research Partners.

Engineering Services Employment

  • The engineering services cluster directly employed 6,580 people in the Denver South region in 2013.
  • Employment growth in the region’s engineering services cluster averaged 2.8 percent per year over the past five years, compared with a 0.2 percent decline nationwide.
  • More than 79 percent of the region’s engineering services employees worked in Douglas County (40 percent) and in Arapahoe County (39 percent).

Engineering Services Companies

  • Nearly 300 engineering services companies operated in the Denver South region in 2013.
  • Roughly 70 percent of the region’s engineering services companies employed fewer than 10 people, while 1 percent employed 250 or more.
  • More than 90 percent of the region’s engineering services companies were located in Arapahoe (56 percent) and Douglas (34 percent) Counties.

Many companies choose locations because of the available workforce. With nearly half of the nine-county region’s 3.5 million residents under the age of 35, employers can draw from a large, young, highly educated, and productive workforce. Of the region’s adult population, 40.9 percent are college graduates and 90.3 percent have graduated from high school. Further, the state has the nation’s second-most highly educated workforce as measured by the percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The attractiveness of the region draws new residents through migration. The nine-county region’s population is expected to grow 51.1 percent from 2010 to 2040, driving a 36.3 percent increase in the region’s labor force over the same period. It is important to note the changing composition of the workforce supply as the baby boomers begin to retire. This has serious implications for businesses whose employee pool includes significant numbers of these workers.

Engineering Services Workforce | The Denver South’s engineering services industry employs 6,580 people and includes a large pool of talented, well-educated, and highly skilled workers. Compared with the age distribution across all industries, the engineering services cluster in the nine-county region has a larger share of employees that are between the ages of 25 and 64 years old.

The engineering services workforce supply consists of four main components: those currently working in the industry; those doing a similar type of job in some other industry; the unemployed; and those currently in the education pipeline. The Metro Denver and Northern Colorado Engineering Services Occupation Profile below includes the 10 largest engineering services occupations in the region. For these 10 largest occupations, the chart details the total number of workers employed in that occupation across all industries, the number of available applicants that would like to be working in that occupation, and the number of recent graduates that are qualified for that occupation.

Metro Denver and Northern Colorado Engineering Services Occupation Profile

10 Largest Engineering Services Occupations in Metro Denver and Northern Colorado

Total Working Across All Industries (2013)

Number of Available Applicants (2013)

Number of Graduates (2012)

1. Civil engineers




2. Mechanical engineers




3. Electrical engineers




4. Secretaries & administrative assistants, except legal, medical, & executive




5. Architects, except landscape & naval




6. Business operations specialists, all other




7. Architectural & engineering managers




8. General & operations managers




9. Electronics engineers, except computer




10. Software developers, systems software




Notes: The number of available applicants is a point-in-time measurement of the number of people who have registered in Colorado’s workforce development system’s statewide database, Connecting Colorado, as being able and available to work in a particular occupation. Results should be interpreted with caution since registration in Connecting Colorado is self-reported. In addition, the skills rubric may assign up to four occupation codes for each registrant. Therefore, the number of available applicants could be inflated.

Source: Provided by Arapahoe/Douglas Works!; QCEW Employees, Non-QCEW Employees, Self Employed, & Extended Proprietors – EMSI 2013.3 Class of Worker.

Wages | The 2012 average annual salary for an engineering services worker in the nine-county region was $96,430, compared with the national average of $85,780. Total payroll for the engineering services cluster in the nine-county region reached nearly $2.4 billion in 2012. The median, average, and percentile annual salaries for the 10 largest occupations in the engineering services cluster are included in the following chart.

Metro Denver and Northern Colorado Engineering Services Salary Profile, 2013

10 Largest Engineering Services Occupations in Metro Denver and Northern Colorado

Median Salary

10th Percentile Salary

25th Percentile Salary

Average Salary

75th Percentile Salary

90th Percentile Salary

1. Civil engineers







2. Mechanical engineers







3. Electrical engineers







4. Secretaries & administrative assistants, except legal, medical, & executive







5. Architects, except landscape & naval







6. Business operations specialists, all other







7. Architectural & engineering managers







8. General & operations managers







9. Electronics engineers, except computer







10. Software developers, systems software







Source: Provided by Arapahoe/Douglas Works!; QCEW Employees, Non-QCEW Employees, Self Employed, & Extended Proprietors – EMSI 2013.3 Class of Worker.

Education and Training | The higher education system in Colorado provides an excellent support system for businesses in the region. There are 28 public institutions of higher education in Colorado, of which seven four-year and six two-year public institutions offering comprehensive curricula are located in the nine-county region. In addition, there are over 100 private and religious accredited institutions and nearly 340 private occupational and technical schools offering courses in dozens of program areas throughout the state. Although not exhaustive, a list of the major accredited educational institutions with the greatest number of graduates for each of the 10 largest engineering services occupations in the region are included below. A directory of all higher education institutions with corresponding web sites may be accessed via


  • Of Colorado’s adult population, more than 37 percent has completed a bachelor’s or higher-level degree, making Colorado the second-most highly educated state in the nation behind Massachusetts. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey)
  • Colorado ranked ninth in the number of science and engineering graduate students per 1,000 individuals ages 25 to 34 years old in 2011. Universities such as Colorado School of Mines, the University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder), and Colorado State University (CSU) all offer competitive science and engineering doctorate programs and research facilities. (National Science Foundation, 2014)
  • Colorado ranked fourth in the number of science and engineering occupations as a percentage of all occupations in 2012. This measure points to a large pool of potential innovators in the state. (National Science Foundation, 2014)
  • Denver South’s surrounding counties (Arapahoe, Denver, and Douglas) issued 224 patents per 1 million people in 2011, slightly below the 225 patents issued per 1 million people in Colorado. A high number of patents indicate a high level of technological capacity and innovation. (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, 2013; U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2013)
  • NerdWallet found that two of the 10 best places in Colorado for job seekers was in Denver South—Centennial and Parker. The study looked at the cost of living, the unemployment rate, and the growth in the number of working-age people in each city. (NerdWallet, 2013)
  • Colorado ranked fourth in the Milken Institute’s 2012 State Technology and Science Index, which uses 79 indicators in five categories to gauge each state’s technology concentration, science and technology workforce, human and risk capital, and research and development capacity. Colorado received top-10 rankings in all five categories, and received its highest individual scores in technology concentration and research and development capacity (third). (Milken Institute, 2013)
  • Metro Denver ranked second among the nation’s largest metropolitan areas for total population gain in the 25- to 34-year age group between 2010 and 2012, according to the Brookings Institution. The region’s stable economies, “cool” cities, and high-tech centers are drawing young adults. (The Brookings Institution, 2013)
  • Denver ranked as the fifth-most highly-skilled intensive science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) economy in the nation, according to the Global Cities Initiative. The $10 million, five-year joint project between the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and JPMorgan Chase aims to help leaders of metropolitan areas strengthen their regional economies by becoming more competitive in the global marketplace. Denver received accolades for its highly educated workforce and innovative ecosystem. (The Brookings Institution, 2013)
  • The Summer Engineering Experience for Kids, SEEK Denver, is a new, collaborative effort between Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and his Office of Children’s Affairs, CH2M HILL, Denver Public Schools, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and local businesses. The three-week program provides elementary students in grades 3-5 the ability to solve problems and create products while discovering the underlying math and science principles involved in these processes. SEEK, a national STEM program developed by NSBE in 2007, began for the first time in Denver in mid-2013. (SEEK, 2013)
  • CH2M Hill supports a variety of STEM programs, including introducing elementary students to basic science and math concepts, sponsoring secondary student science and engineering competitions, and providing financial support and hands-on engineering experiences to keep university students engaged. The company’s DiscoverE program places professional engineers in classrooms, enabling them to share their passion for making a difference through challenging and rewarding careers. DiscoverE’s Future City program is a U.S. design-build competition for students in grades 6-8 that challenges young minds to imagine their future by combining technical skills with creativity and teamwork to create cities of the future. (CH2M Hill, 2013)
  • The Colorado Academy for the Development of STEM-related Careers—a partnership between Metropolitan State University of Denver, Colorado School of Mines, Community College of Denver, and the Cherry Creek School District—is designed to position the state as a leader in scientific and technology education. The overall program ensures Colorado students from kindergarten to graduate level receive specialized training and certifications to connect targeted communities to job readiness and career enhancement, coordinate with state Workforce Centers, and assist in job placement.


  • Denver South boasts a close proximity to Denver International Airport (DIA) and Centennial Airport, the premier business and general aviation airport in the Rocky Mountain Region.
    • DIA was the fifth-busiest airport in the nation and 15th-busiest worldwide in terms of passenger traffic in 2013. DIA is home to 16 commercial carriers—the largest of which are United Airlines, Southwest, and Frontier Airlines—that offer scheduled nonstop service to nearly 180 destinations worldwide. (U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2014; Airports Council International 2014; and Denver International Airport, 2014)
    • Located near the Denver Tech Center and 23 other business parks, Centennial Airport is the major local reliever airport for DIA and generates more than $1.3 billion for the region annually, the highest among the state’s general aviation airports. (Centennial Airport, 2013; Colorado Department of Transportation, Division of Aeronautics, 2013)
  • Metro Denver’s unique geographic location in the Mountain time zone makes it the largest region in the U.S. to offer one-bounce satellite uplinks. This capability provides companies with real-time connections to six of seven continents in one business day. (Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation)
  • The nine-county region’s central U.S. location allows convenient access as air travelers can easily reach two-thirds of the nation within two hours and is within four hours flying time of every North American city with a population of 1 million or more. Further, the region’s position on the 105th meridian—the exact midpoint between Tokyo and Frankfurt—favorably serves growing world markets. (Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation)
  • Advancements in communication and infrastructure have resulted in a more mobile workforce in the Denver South region. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 8.4 percent of Denver South’s workers telecommute, compared with 6.4 percent in the Metro Denver and Northern Colorado region and a smaller 4.3 percent in the United States. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate)
  • Colorado ranked fourth in the 2012 Beacon Hill Institute’s infrastructure index, a sub-index of the State Competitiveness Report. The index is comprised of the concentration of mobile phones, access to high-speed broadband, air travel, worker commute times, and access to an affordable quality of living. Colorado received top 10 rankings for air passengers per capita (4th) and high-speed lines per 1,000 people (5th). (Beacon Hill Institute, 2013.
  • The Denver-Aurora-Broomfield MSA is a key distribution hub, making fast Internet connections a necessity in the region. More than 93 percent of the population in the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield MSA reported access to download speeds greater than 100-megabyes per second, compared with 56.7 percent nationwide in 2013. (The Federal Communications Commission, 2013; National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 2013)
  • Colorado ranked first among the 50 states for the largest percentage of highly connected residents in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Nearly 36 percent of Coloradans access the Internet from both their homes and another location from multiple devices, higher than the national average of 27 percent. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013)


U.S. News & World Report recognized five Metro Denver universities among the nation’s “Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs” that offer doctoral degrees. The College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder) ranked 32nd, the Colorado School of Mines ranked 49th, the College of Engineering at Colorado State University (CSU) ranked 65th, the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Denver ranked 139th, and the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Denver ranked 152nd. (U.S. News & World Report, 2014)

Three Metro Denver universities ranked among the nation’s top 100 graduate engineering programs in 2014, according toU.S. News & World Report. The College of Engineering and Applied Science at CU-Boulder ranked 34th, the Colorado School of Mines ranked 55th, and the College of Engineering at CSU ranked 67th. The list recognizes more than 210 engineering programs that grant doctoral degrees based on assessments by recruiters and peer deans, employment rates for graduates and starting salaries, and student selectivity. (U.S. News & World Report, 2014)

  • The University of Colorado system ranked 10th among the nation’s public institutions for science and engineering research and development expenditures totaling $800 million in fiscal year 2012. The university also ranked fourth for federally funded research expenditures. (National Science Foundation, 2014)
  • CSU partnered with Douglas County-based CH2M Hill to offer two graduate-level courses that are part of a systems engineering program offered by the schools’ College of Engineering. Through the CSU Denver South initiative, the four-course program began in early 2014 and includes two classes taught on CH2M Hill’s Englewood campus and two classes available online, which cover the core curriculum needed for completion of a master’s or Ph.D. in systems engineering from CSU. CSU Denver South will provide convenient educational opportunities to students where they live and work, and will address the workforce needs of local industry. (Colorado State University, 2014)
  • The University of Colorado will begin offering educational opportunities to Douglas County in the fall of 2014. The University of Colorado will occupy exhibit space in The Wildlife Experience museum and will offer engineering programs, among others. (The University of Colorado, 2014)
  • The Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science at the University of Denver partners with companies to deliver comprehensive continuing education and training programs. The Ritchie School provides a number of ways to ensure that employees are equipped with the skills to meet the challenges of the evolving workplace including traditional degree programs, certificate programs tailored to companies’ specific training needs, single or multi-day short courses at the University of Denver campus or on location, and one or two week intensive state-of-the-art technical specialty programs. (University of Denver, 2013)


  • Colorado’s simplified corporate income tax structure based on single-factor apportionment allows companies to pay taxes based solely on their sales in the state. Along with few regulatory burdens, Colorado’s corporate income tax rate of 4.63 percent is one of the lowest and most competitive tax structures in the nation. (State of Colorado; The Tax Foundation)
  • Colorado has the nation’s ninth-best tax climate for small businesses and entrepreneurs, according to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council’s “Small Business Tax Index 2014.” The index evaluates state taxes on personal income, capital gains, dividends and interest, corporate income, and other factors to determine each tax system’s overall cost to small business. (Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, 2014)
  • Denver South’s office rental rates averaged $22.08 per square foot in the first quarter of 2014, making the region’s office market highly competitive with other major markets in the U.S. Denver South has more than 41 million square feet of office space and roughly 5,000 acres of ready-to-be-developed land. (CoStar Realty Information, Q1 2014)


  • MONEY Magazine ranked Parker among the top 15 “Best Places to Live” in 2013. The annual ranking highlights cities and towns that offer affordability, job growth, strong education and health systems, diversity, and economic strength. The city’s well-regarded cultural centers, proximity to Denver, and affordable housing contributed to its high ranking. (MONEY Magazine, 2013)
  • NerdWallet named Highlands Ranch and Parker among the top 10 “Best Towns in Colorado for Young Families.” The rankings considered the quality of public schools in towns, affordability, and whether the population and household incomes in the town were growing. (NerdWallet, 2013)
  • Coldwell Banker Real Estate ranked Highlands Ranch as Colorado’s “Top Booming Suburb.” The rankings identified suburbs that showed strong economic growth since the recovery, and had a population that was finding jobs at a better rate than the national average. (Coldwell Banker Real Estate, 2013)
  • The Denver South region boasts a variety and quality of housing options from expansive apartment complexes to single-family homes surrounded by open spaces. One of the largest and most comprehensive master planned communities in the nation—RidgeGate—is located conveniently along I-25 and Lincoln Avenue in Lone Tree and offers 3,500 acres of mixed-use density including retail, dining, healthcare, recreation, and mass transit. (Denver South Economic Development Partnership, 2014)
  • The cost of living in Metro Denver is only 4 percent above the national average and is well below that of many other major cities. (The Council for Community and Economic Research, Cost of Living Index, 2013)
  • Metro Denver’s fourth quarter 2013 median home price of $279,300 was significantly less than comparable communities on the east and west coasts, but is higher than the national median price of $196,900. Metro Denver ranked 20th among 165 metro areas for median single-family home price in the fourth quarter of 2013. (National Association of Realtors, Q4 2013)
  • Denver South is home to a wide array of transportation options. The Southeast Corridor Light Rail Line runs along the west side of I-25 from Broadway in Denver to Lincoln Avenue in Douglas County, and in the median of I-225 from I-25 to Parker Road in Aurora, connecting the two largest employment centers in the Metro Denver region. The Denver South region also offers bus services to the southeast corridor from all corners of the Metro Denver region, including express buses and regional buses operating during the peak commute hours. (Denver South Economic Development Partnership, 2014)
  • The Regional Transportation District (RTD) offers two corporate pass programs for companies in the Denver South region. The EcoPass is an annual transit pass purchased by a company for all of its employees, providing unlimited usage of RTD services. FlexPass is an annual pass program that can be customized to meet the needs of the employer and employees. The program’s flexible nature enables employees to choose their service level, vary passes from month-to-month, and enter or leave the program at any time. Both passes are tax deductible to the employer and provided tax-free to employees. (Regional Transportation District, 2014)
  • FasTracks—a comprehensive plan to buildout Metro Denver’s entire mass transit system by 2019—is the largest simultaneous transit buildout in U.S. history. Approved by voters in 2004, FasTracks will vastly improve mobility for current and future residents and will make Metro Denver one of the top regions in the country in terms of miles of fixed rail.
  • The American College of Sports Medicine ranked Metro Denver as the fifth-fittest metro area in the nation on its 2013 American Fitness Index. The index rated the nation’s 50 largest metro areas on factors including preventative health behaviors, chronic disease levels, access to healthcare, and community resources and policies that support physical activity. Denver’s high percentage of residents participating in physical activity and low diabetes and cardiovascular disease rates contributed to its high ranking. (American College of Sports Medicine, 2013)
  • Nearly 30 public and private golf courses are located in the South Metro Corridor and world-class ski resorts are located within 100 miles of the Corridor. (Denver South Economic Development Partnership)
  • National forests occupy nearly 22 percent of Colorado’s state land area, the third-highest percentage among the 50 states. Colorado’s 55 national and state parks, substantial wilderness and recreation areas, and the greatest number of 14,000-foot mountain peaks in the nation are vital components to the state’s quality of life and offer some of the highest quality outdoor opportunities. (U.S. Forest Service, 2013; Colorado State Parks, 2013)
  • Colorado is the leanest state with the nation’s lowest rate of adult obesity (20.5 percent) and is the only state with an obesity rate below 21 percent. (Trust for America’s Health, 2013; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2013)
  • Metro Denver ranked third-sunniest among 20 major U.S. cities with sunshine on almost 70 percent of the days each year. (U. S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Climatic Data Center, 2013)

Information Prepared by:

Development Research Partners, Inc.
10184 West Belleview Ave, Ste 100
Littleton, Colorado 80127
April 2014


[1] The Denver South region consists of zip codes 80111, 80112, 80124, 80126, 80129, 80130, 80134, and 80237.

[2] The nine-county Metro Denver and Northern Colorado region consists of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, Larimer, and Weld Counties.