For those seeking business leadership positions, the top industries in the Pacific Northwest offer many opportunities. These industries range from cutting edge technology to healthcare and innovative retailers.

For those who have earned a master’s of business administration, a wealth of opportunity exists in this area. The Pacific Northwest region is one of the fastest-growing in the United States.

One report shows that the West grew twice as fast the rest of the country in terms of population and employment between 1971 and 2014. The West includes the Pacific Northwest as well as big states such as California, Colorado and Arizona.

The following represent a few of the big industries in the region, along with some of the biggest companies in those industries. These areas offer plenty of careers in management, making the effort of earning a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) worthwhile.

Some MBA programs, such as the one from Concordia University Portland, allow you to earn an MBA in as few as 18 months with specialization options in a number of fields, including project management, general business, finance and healthcare administration.


The West has been home to an explosion in technology-based businesses, with companies such as Facebook, Google and Apple all headquartered in Northern California between San Francisco and San Jose, an area known as Silicon Valley.

The Pacific Northwest also has shared in this boom. These include:

  • Tech giant Microsoft has its headquarters in Redmond, just east of Seattle, with more than 128,000 employees.
  • Microchip maker Micron Technology has its headquarters in Boise, Idaho, with more than 30,000 employees.
  • F5 Networks, located in Seattle, offers hardware and software that ensures safety along data delivery lines.

The technology sector remains highly competitive, with innovation driving much of the industry. An MBA can open the door to leadership positions in this field. Although a strong background in technology also proves beneficial, no matter what phase of the operation you work in.


Many of the biggest businesses in the Pacific Northwest are household names, many of which emerged in the later part of the 20th Century. Retail, one of the top industries in the Pacific Northwest, attracts many business majors and requires expertise in everything from distribution and manufacturing to marketing and sales. The industry also requires those with strong knowledge in leadership, management and finance.

Many retailers call the Pacific Northwest Home, including:

  • Headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, just outside Portland, Nike employs more than 44,000 people worldwide.
  • The biggest online retailer in the world, Amazon started as an online bookseller. Based in Seattle, Amazon surpassed Walmart in 2015 as the nation’s most valuable retailer.
  • Based in Seattle, Starbucks sells coffee and other products at more than 23,700 locations worldwide.
  • Nordstrom. The giant department store, headquartered in Seattle since the early 1900s, operates more than 300 stores across the United States.


Many growing, transportation-related companies call the Pacific Northwest home. Another growth industry with competitive salaries, transportation attracts MBA holders with specialties in a number of areas, including marketing, sales, supply chain management and finances.

Companies include:

  • Located in Portland, Erickson manufactures and operates aircraft, including helicopters used to fight fires.
  • Expedia, Inc. This parent company for online travel booking sites has its headquarters in Bellevue, Wash., outside Seattle. The company owns Expedia, Travelocity, Hotwire, Orbitz, HomeAway and, among many other sites.
  • Alaska Air Group. Despite the name, this airline has its headquarters in Seattle, Wash. The group owns Alaska Airlines, a former regional airline which now has become a major carrier with flights to more 100 destinations in the U.S.


Like much of the country, one of the top industries in the Pacific Northwest is healthcare. An aging population, as well as more awareness of the advantages of health screenings and preventive care, have made the healthcare industry one of the fastest-growing in the country.

In the Pacific Northwest, major hospitals are located in all the major metropolitan areas. Also, a growing MedTech industry has opened up jobs in this dynamic field. The health insurance business has seen growth there, including local providers such as Lifewise Health Plan (which offers plans in Oregon and Washington) and PacificSource Health Plans.

These are just a sample of the dynamic companies and top industries in the Pacific Northwest. This region is fast-growing, and is home to many innovative and expanding businesses. For someone who wants to earn an MBA and have a career an exciting environment, they’d have a difficult time finding a better spot.