SAS, the world’s largest privately held software company, rose 19 places to 29th in Fortune Magazine’s annual “Best Places to Work” list.

After dropping to 48th in 2007 from 30th in 2006, the Jim Goodnight-owned firm regained ground in rankings that are based on a variety of criteria. Fortune’s criteria include benefits, salaries, job growth, turnover and roles for women and minorities.

Also on the list is Cary-based Kimley-Horn & Associates, which placed 38th. The consulting and engineering and technology-services firm was down from 28th a year earlier.

Other regional firms or tech firms with major presences in North Carolina included:

  • Cisco Systems, 6th
  • Network Appliance, 14th
  • Alston & Bird, 31st
  • Ernst & Young, 57th
  • Deloitte & Touche, 95th

The latter three firms have their headquarters in Atlanta.

Among the strengths the magazine cited at SAS was the company’s providing of on-campus daycare facilities. “The software giant was an early adopter (1981) of on-site child care,” Fortune said. “It now has four centers caring for more than 600 children (cost $350 a month)."

Kimley-Horn, meanwhile, was praised for treatment of new employees. “Employees rave about the freedom new hires receive,” the magazine said. It quoted one employee as saying: “Young people are given the chance to expedite their career from the beginning.”

Cisco drew praise for Chief Executive Officer John Chambers’ leadership, including a new blog through which he encourages workers to submit ideads.

At NetApp, Fortune said executives are easy to approach. One new benefit includes assistance for autism, and 28 employees have taken advantage of the offering for their families.

For more, see .