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Seeking a Work-Life Balance? You’ll Fall in Love with Iowa

Here, you can find plenty of job opportunities in a state that's affordable and fun to live in.

By Heather Cherry on January 14, 2022

“LOVE” sculpture in the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, IA.
Kathryn Gamble

When it comes to building a career, look no further. You will find a wealth of job opportunities in Iowa while enjoying one of the nation’s most livable locations. The state’s highly diverse economy added more than 40,000 jobs between 2014 and 2019, and every industry sector is experiencing excessive demand.

“There are great opportunities in hospitality, retail, manufacturing and health care,” says Chris Diebel, director of public affairs at the Iowa Business Council. “All of our members are telling us that hiring is a top priority – jobs are plentiful here.”

And unlike other areas outside of Iowa, jobs are available at multiple levels, meaning Iowa has something for everyone. “For example, in retail and hospitality, there are entry-level jobs and many leadership positions,” Diebel says. “In addition, there are highly skilled jobs in manufacturing that pay extremely well.”

“Iowa is a finance and insurance hub. In the larger markets
like in Des Moines, you’ll find many quality professional
positions across industries.”

Chris Diebel | Iowa Business Council

Diverse Industries & Global Companies

Iowa’s thriving industries nearly run the gamut – advanced manufacturing, biosciences, education technology, insurance, financial services, and the list goes on. As a result, the state has a significantly higher concentration of specialized talent than the U.S. average in several categories, such as animal scientists, agricultural engineers and actuaries. Plus, many companies here don’t just positively affect Iowa, they have worldwide reach, such as GOMACO, a distributor/manufacturer of concrete paving equipment in Ida Grove.

Within these industries lives a slew of globally known companies, from Whirlpool and Pella Corporation to Meredith, Principal Financial Group, Collins Aerospace and HNI Corporation.

And what new residents will find is that many companies in Iowa go above and beyond to support their employees.

“At other companies, you might get transferred a few times to get a promotion,” says Adrienne Wheeler, director of talent acquisition and development at HNI Corporation. “But if you really want to stay in the Midwest – Iowa specifically – and you want to start here at HNI Corporation, you could have a career in many business functions. We do hire externally but support hiring from within, so, ultimately, someone could start at HNI, take part in our mentoring and training programs, get promoted and have a career trajectory for whatever they see for themselves.”

Work-Life Balance

While great jobs can be found, they aren’t the only thing people can expect to discover when living in Iowa. “Career opportunities pair nicely into the cost of living and quality of life,” Diebel says.

Many people are drawn to the area’s affordability, lush activities and work-life balance. In fact, the work-life balance is what attracted Kate Willer back to the Midwest. Willer grew up in Des Moines, moved to Fort Worth, Texas, for college and later settled in New York City after graduation.

“I was singing and acting – New York City is where everything was based,” says Willer, who is a general manager at Bubba Southern Comforts, a restaurant in Des Moines that specializes in Southern favorites and classic cocktails. “Once I left Iowa, I said there was never any way I would move back.”

But … she did.

“I’ve been back in Iowa for five years now, and I couldn’t be happier. Everyone is so welcoming, and it’s affordable to live.
I can enjoy the many things the community has to offer.”

Kate Willer

“I wanted to move back to be near my family,” she says. “I was considering Chicago or Minneapolis, but then I got the opportunity to open Bubba here in Des Moines – it was like the universe saying, ‘This is where you’re supposed to be.’”

And as for the work-life balance?

“In New York, everything is so expensive – you keep pushing, and you must be career-first focused,” she says. “But when you stop and take a breath, you realize you’re just working and grinding while missing out on things with your family. But in Iowa, everyone has a better sense of enjoying your life while still having a great work ethic.”

New to Iowa? Get a Wingman

Wingman connects Iowa City and Cedar Rapids newcomers with individuals who know the cities well and can help them network. Serving as a Wingman means one might suggest doctors, restaurants, real estate agents and local sports leagues, among other things, to a newcomer. More than 55 trained volunteers serve the cities. Each Wingman has a profile on the program’s website. Newcomers can then search for a Wingman who has a similar background or interests. Ready to find your Wingman? Click here.

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