What’s sky-high, rumbling with volcanic activity*, and breathtaking to behold?
Honolulu’s tech industry of course!
*For the record, no volcanoes on the island of O’ahu, where Honolulu is located, are active.
While the city of Honolulu has grown and developed as a tourism hub, local organizations have decided it is time to branch out. Local and state governments along with economic development groups have begun a rebranding campaign to transform Honolulu into a Startup Paradise. It’s still early in the development process but Honolulu’s new tech industry is making waves.
A couple of factors are behind this movement to promote innovation and tech. First of all, the natural resources and limited space on the island of O’ahu mean that Honolulu’s tourism industry cannot expand infinitely. At some point, land would run out – or at least become too crowded to be a truly peaceful getaway. Though Honolulu was undergoing a shift toward tech before Covid-19 shook economies worldwide, the pandemic’s impact on tourism proved how important it is for the city to diversify into additional industries.
Additionally, the people of Honolulu recognize the imperative to ramp up green technology and innovation in the face of climate change. While the island community is at great risk for damage from rising sea levels, it is currently the most oil-dependent state in the nation with about four-fifths of its total energy coming from petroleum as of 2021. The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative supports innovation and investment in environmentally sustainable technologies, while Hawaii Green Growth leverages data and innovative financing to create scalable environmental solutions across the state.
And lastly, Hawaii has a giant population of highly educated young people. Honolulu specifically, has higher than U.S. average education levels among residents over 25. However, an issue that particularly troubles Hawaii’s governor, David Ige is the “brain drain” of skilled Hawaiians moving to Silicon Valley or other mainland tech centers to put their tech skills to good use.
In order to diversify the economy, grow sustainably, and plug the “brain drain,” Hawaii is promoting many initiatives to grow its digital economy.
These initiatives include entrepreneurial accelerators like Blue Startup, a city-wide connected vehicle project, the Energy Smart 4 Homes initiative supporting efficient technologies, and the University of Hawai’i’s Innovation Initiative.
With such active promotion of tech innovation in Honolulu the number of tech jobs available has skyrocketed. Between 2010 and 2019, tech employment in Hawaii grew by 7.7% and, with a third of the state’s population based in Honolulu, this metro area offers more of these opportunities than anywhere else.
The most abundant tech jobs in Honolulu are computer systems analysts, software developers, user support specialists, systems administrators, systems managers, network support specialists, and graphic designers.
Major employers in the area include Hawaii Pacific Health, American Savings Bank, Sagely telehealth, Oceanit Laboratories, and the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii.
Hawaii households have the fifth highest median income in U.S. and Honolulu County has the highest median income in the state. Furthermore, jobs in the tech industry pay well above average salaries. Below is a breakdown from the Bureau of Labor Statistics of average salaries in Honolulu for popular tech roles.
|Occupation||Average Yearly Salary|
|Computer Systems Analyst||$80,100|
|User Support Specialist||$53,050|
|Network Support Specialist||$70,610|