Rankings: The 100 Best Cities to Work in Tech

 December 3, 2018
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best cities for IT jobs

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The majors that college students choose can have a big impact on their earnings, both after graduation and throughout their careers.

One of the highest-paying college majors is computer science. 2018 graduates with this degree are projected to earn starting salaries averaging over $66,000 a year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Selecting a major is not the only major decision facing computer science and technology students. Leading up to graduation, they’ll need to start looking for their first jobs out of college. And they’ll need to consider the cities in which they’ll live. After all, location can affect how much they earn in their position and how far that pay will go.

Our new rankings look at data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to find the cities in each major U.S. region that offer the best pay to computer and information technology (IT) professionals.

Key findings

  • Local pay matters, but so does cost of living. To rank well, cities had to offer some of the highest pay across eight IT professions after cost of living was taken into account. Cities that ranked higher are those where educated tech workers earn high pay relative to their living expenses.
  • The South offers the best deal to tech professionals. Of the top 20 cities in our rankings, 17 are in southern states. And nearly half of the top 100 cities for tech professionals can be found in the South.
  • Tech professionals command wages well above average. For the lowest-paying occupation we surveyed, web developers, the median annual pay was $67,990 a year — nearly twice the national median pay of $37,690 for all occupations. The highest-paying tech professionals are computer network architects, who earn a median of $104,650 a year.

Top 5 cities for tech professionals in each region

Our rankings were designed to identify the cities in each U.S. region that offer the best financial situations to tech professionals. To do so, we used data from the BLS to compare pay in different cities for eight IT jobs that require a college education, adjusted for the local cost of living.

Here are the eight tech occupations we surveyed, along with the best region to find such a job, according to our study results:

Tech occupation Best region
Computer systems analyst Midwest
Information security analyst West
Computer programmer South
Software systems developer South
Web developer South
Database administrator Midwest
Computer network administrator South
Computer network architect Northeast

The top-ranking cities had some of the highest salaries for the jobs considered, relative to local prices and living expenses. In other words, college-educated tech professionals should consider living in these top cities if they want to earn the most and see their paycheck go the furthest.

Our study revealed that the South is a standout region for tech jobs. It’s home to 47 cities that were ranked among the top 100 on our list. Here’s the number of cities in each region that made it into the top 100:

  • South: 47
  • Midwest: 24
  • West: 18
  • Northeast: 11

As mentioned, the South is a clear standout for tech professionals. In fact, the top five cities in this region are also the best in the nation overall.

While the region tends to offer lower living costs to residents, tech workers can still expect incomes that are relatively high. Several cities in the Midwest offer a similarly favorable scenario to tech professionals.

Here’s a closer look at the best metropolitan areas for tech professionals in each U.S. region.

Top 5 cities for tech professionals in the South

1. Hinesville, Georgia

Georgia was ranked as one of the best states to live in if you have student debt. And one factor that works in favor of Hinesville residents is local costs, which are nearly 10% lower than the national average cost of living. Yet tech workers here earn some of the highest pay in the nation, relative to local prices.

Local computer systems analysts make $92,000 a year while software systems developers earn $107,430 on average. Both salaries are more than double the average annual wage in Hinesville of $42,660, as reported by the BLS.

2. Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte is one of the best cities in the nation to earn a living as a software systems developer or computer network architects. Annual wages for these jobs average $112,320 and $112,840, respectively, in Charlotte — well over double the local average wage of $50,150.

Even better, local prices are below the national average by 6.5%. So these high incomes will go further in Charlotte.

3. Hattiesburg, Mississippi

The main factor that put Hattiesburg at the top of this list is its low cost of living, which is around 18% below the national average.

Yet while local prices are low, tech professionals still earn a great income here. A typical worker makes $37,500 a year in Hattiesburg, but tech professionals make more than twice that amount.

In particular, computer systems analysts earn relatively high pay in this area, earning $78,780 on average. So do computer network administrators, with earnings that average $80,810 a year.

4. New Bern, North Carolina

Like the cities listed above, New Bern has a low cost of living, with expenses that are nearly 16% lower than the national average.

Still, New Bern continues the trend here of top cities where costs are low and some local tech professionals earn about double the local average income. While a typical worker here earns $42,490 a year, computer systems analysts average $83,430 and computer network administrators make $76,600.

5. California, Maryland

Unlike the other top cities in the South, California’s living costs are about on par with the national average. But the city has higher wages, with an average of $70,860, and offers similarly high salaries to local tech professionals.

Web developers are particularly well paid here, earning $90,610 a year on average. Computer systems analysts also come out ahead in this Maryland city, with the local average wage for this occupation at $98,580.

Top 5 cities for tech professionals in the Midwest

1. St. Louis

The cost of living in St. Louis is about 9% less than the national average, which can make it an affordable place for tech graduates to live and work.

This is especially true for the city’s top-paying tech jobs. Database administrators earn $95,320 a year here, on average. Computer systems analysts average $90,780. Such incomes are substantially higher than the average $49,180 annual wage for St. Louis workers.

2. Monroe, Michigan

Relative to local costs, Monroe offers one of the highest average salaries for local computer systems analysts in the nation. At $99,710, the occupation pays more than twice the local average pay of $43,900 a year.

Computer network administrators won’t command the same high pay, averaging $75,220 a year. But the cost of living in Monroe is 6% below the national average. So even those in this position can stretch their income.

3. Columbus, Ohio

Columbus residents pay 7% less to cover their basic costs than the national average, and locals earn a decent $50,020 on average. This sets most locals up for a decent living in this Ohio city.

The situation is better for tech workers. Columbus offers some of the best pay for database administrators ($97,280). And computer network architects also do well, averaging $105,560 in annual income.

4. Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Cedar Rapids is the best city in the nation to earn a living as a web developer. Local web developers earn $86,120 a year, on average. Considering that Cedar Rapids has a cost of living that’s 10.7% below the national average, web developers who live here may see their incomes go further.

Software systems developers can also earn a decent living here. They make $93,570 on average. That’s easily twice the average wage ($48,410 a year) in Cedar Rapids.

5. Jackson, Michigan

The cost of living in Jackson is 10.4% less than the national average. That helps tech professionals get the most out of their salaries.

Jackson’s average salary of $97,560 for computer systems analysts is the best in the nation for this occupation when adjusted for local living costs. Software systems developers also command high pay here, averaging $100,920. Both types of tech jobs pay close to double the local average salary of $49,890.

Top 5 cities for tech professionals in the West

1. Seattle

Unlike top cities in other regions, Seattle doesn’t offer low living costs. In fact, living here is 10.5% more expensive than the national average. But it might pay to live in a more expensive city.

The Seattle area is a major tech hub and home to Microsoft and Amazon headquarters. Professionals in this industry are paid well. Computer programmers average $129,470 a year, while web developers make $92,280 on average. By comparison, the average wage in this city is $63,120.

2. San Francisco

Next is San Francisco, another huge player in the tech industry thanks to its proximity to Silicon Valley. With local costs nearly 25% above the national average, it’s also one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S.

Despite that, tech professionals will have plenty of job opportunities and chances to earn high incomes here. Software systems developers earn $134,000 a year on average, and web developers make $104,400. Both are far above the average local wage of $69,700 for San Francisco.

3. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Another city that tech professionals could consider is Colorado Springs. The city’s cost of living is about on par with the national average, and the average local wage is $50,050 a year.

Here, a software systems developer earns more than twice that at an average $114,980 a year. Computer systems analysts in Colorado Springs earn $96,410 annually.

4. Kennewick, Washington

Technology majors can head to Kennewick to earn a great living, particularly if they’re interested in being an information security analyst or a computer systems analyst. For the former, the average salary is $109,500 in Kennewick, while local computer systems analysts average $91,810 a year.

These salaries far exceed the city’s average wage of $53,470. And thanks to slightly lower local costs, tech professionals will get a little more bang for their buck.

5. Sacramento, California

Sacramento locals face a cost of living just 2% above the national average. IT professionals in this city earn more than enough to make up for this.

Computer network architects earn $121,550 on average, and information security analysts make $113,750 a year. By comparison, the average wage for Sacramento is less than half that: $55,010.

Top 5 cities for tech professionals in the Northeast

1. Providence, Rhode Island

A typical worker in Providence earns $52,220 on average and pays prices on par with the national average.

Tech professionals earn even more here. Computer network architects and computer systems analysts, in particular, can earn a decent living in Providence, with typical salaries of $117,760 and $95,780, respectively.

2. Hartford, Connecticut

Tech graduates may want to consider finding their next job in Hartford. Computer network architects here typically earn $120,800 a year, and database administrators earn $99,970 a year.

These salaries are well above the local average wage of $60,040, while local costs of living are just 1.5% above the national average. Bottom line: Tech professionals can easily make ends meet while working and living in Hartford.

3. Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania

Next is Bloomsburg, where local workers earn, on average, $46,250 a year. Top tech jobs in this city pay more than twice this average.

Computer systems analysts make $97,990 a year, while computer programmers earn $103,080 annually. Additionally, Bloomsburg has living expenses that are 6.7% less than the national average.

4. Trenton, New Jersey

Trenton isn’t a cheap place to live — it’s 11.3% pricier than the national average. Despite this, it’s a top city for tech professionals who want to land a high-paying job.

A local database administrator earns $107,630 a year. A computer network architect earns even more, with annual earnings at $124,630. Compare that to the average salary in Trenton: $62,980.

5. Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Software systems developers can look to Pittsfield to find optimal pay and living conditions. Local prices are 3.8% below the national average, yet workers in this occupation earn $106,270 a year.

Computer systems analysts can also make a good living here, with an average annual pay of $79,190. By comparison, the average local wage is $49,650 a year.

Top 100 U.S. cities for tech jobs

Below is a list of every city that finished in the top 100 of our rankings. The table also lists: the top tech occupation for each city, its average salary, the cost of living for that city, and the occupation’s salary adjusted for cost of living (real income).

Rank City Top local tech job Top tech job salary Cost of living, compared to national average Real income (salary adjusted for cost of living)
1 Hinesville, Ga. Computer systems analyst $92,000 9.7% below $101,883
2 Charlotte, N.C. Software systems developer $112,320 6.5% below $120,128
3 Hattiesburg, Miss. Computer systems analyst $78,780 17.9% below $95,956
4 New Bern, N.C. Computer programmer $104,400 14.6% below $122,248
5 California, Md. Web developer $90,610 0.3% above $90,339
6 St. Louis Database administrator $95,320 9.2% below $104,978
7 Winston-Salem, N.C. Computer network architect $117,480 11.0% below $132,000
8 Raleigh, N.C. Database administrator $102,430 4.1% below $106,809
9 Rocky Mount, N.C. Database administrator $86,270 16.1% below $102,825
10 Staunton-Waynesboro, Va. Software systems developer $112,400 15.2% below $132,547
11 Huntsville, Ala. Computer systems analyst $89,470 10.6% below $100,078
12 Brunswick, Ga. Software systems developer $98,780 14.4% below $115,397
13 Monroe, Mich. Computer systems analyst $99,710 6.0% below $106,074
14 Birmingham, Ala. Database administrator $90,910 11.2% below $102,376
15 Atlanta Computer network architect $114,100 3.7% below $118,484
16 Dallas Computer network architect $117,800 0.2% above $117,565
17 Columbus, Ga. Database administrator $100,060 10.7% below $112,049
18 Durham, N.C. Computer network architect $110,070 4.8% below $115,620
19 Austin, Texas Computer network architect $122,530 0% (same as average) $122,530
20 Seattle Computer programmer $129,470 10.5% above $117,167
21 Decatur, Ala. Computer systems analyst $88,280 15.7% below $104,721
22 Columbus, Ohio Database administrator $97,280 7% below $104,602
23 Rome, Ga. Computer programmer $105,910 18.9% below $130,592
24 Providence, R.I. Computer network architect $117,760 0.3% below $118,114
25 Lynchburg, Va. Information security analyst $112,130 10.2% below $124,866
26 Cedar Rapids, Iowa Web developer $86,120 10.7% below $96,439
27 Houston Software systems developer $110,830 1.6% above $109,085
28 Hartford, Conn. Computer network architect $120,800 1.5% above $119,015
29 Greensboro, N.C. Computer network architect $111,540 10.2% below $124,209
30 Jackson, Mich. Computer systems analyst $97,560 10.4% below $108,884
31 Gainesville, Ga. Computer systems analyst $94,210 11.5% below $106,452
32 Burlington, N.C. Computer network administrator $101,840 10.6% below $113,915
33 San Antonio Computer network architect $118,510 5.6% below $125,540
34 Winchester, Va. Computer network architect $121,250 8.0% below $131,793
35 Bloomsburg, Pa. Computer systems analyst $97,990 6.7% below $105,027
36 Springfield, Ohio Database administrator $86,080 12.1% below $97,929
37 Richmond, Va. Computer systems analyst $94,540 3.9% below $98,377
38 San Francisco Web developer $104,400 24.7% above $83,721
39 Salisbury, Md. Software systems developer $113,190 10.7% below $126,753
40 Akron, Ohio Software systems developer $100,370 10.0% below $111,522
41 Peoria, Ill. Database administrator $92,240 9.2% below $101,586
42 Cincinnati Computer systems analyst $84,350 10.4% below $94,141
43 Colorado Springs, Colo. Software systems developer $114,980 0.4% below $115,442
44 Kennewick, Wash. Information security analyst $109,500 2.9% below $112,770
45 Trenton, N.J. Database administrator $107,630 11.3% above $96,703
46 Baltimore Information security analyst $115,170 7.2% above $107,435
47 Sacramento, Calif. Computer network architect $121,550 2.0% above $119,167
48 Texarkana, Texas Computer systems analyst $83,830 12.4% below $95,696
49 Portland, Ore. Computer network architect $118,790 1.7% above $116,804
50 Montgomery, Ala. Information security analyst $95,180 10.9% below $106,824
51 Brownsville, Texas Computer programmer $100,830 16.2% below $120,322
52 San Jose, Calif. Computer network architect $146,940 27.1% above $115,610
53 Detroit Computer network architect $111,050 4.1% below $115,798
54 Valdosta, Ga. Software systems developer $96,220 19.1% below $118,937
55 Dayton, Ohio Computer systems analyst $86,790 10.0% below $96,433
56 Springfield, Ill. Computer systems analyst $94,170 9.0% below $103,484
57 Minneapolis Software systems developer $114,820 2.3% above $112,239
58 Denver Software systems developer $115,130 6.0% above $108,613
59 Phoenix Computer systems analyst $90,650 2.9% below $93,357
60 Battle Creek, Mich. Computer programmer $107,620 9.4% below $118,786
61 Beaumont, Texas Software systems developer $102,310 10.2% below $113,931
62 Kingsport, Tenn. Computer systems analyst $86,700 14.9% below $101,880
63 Warner Robins, Ga. Software systems developer $103,800 11.5% below $117,288
64 Omaha, Neb. Database administrator $88,370 6.6% below $94,615
65 Auburn, Ala. Computer programmer $94,460 15.4% below $111,655
66 Chattanooga, Tenn. Database administrator $87,710 10.7% below $98,219
67 Chicago Computer network architect $113,950 3.8% above $109,778
68 Sierra Vista, Ariz. Computer systems analyst $89,450 10.4% below $99,833
69 Fresno, Calif. Computer network architect $123,380 3.7% below $128,120
70 Bloomington, Ill. Computer systems analyst $87,910 6.2% below $93,721
71 Salem, Ore. Database administrator $89,260 4.1% below $93,076
72 Las Vegas Computer network architect $108,170 2.2% below $110,603
73 Idaho Falls, Idaho Software systems developer $114,510 10.2% below $127,517
74 Pittsfield, Mass. Software systems developer $106,270 3.8% below $110,468
75 Boston Web developer $84,330 11.1% above $75,905
76 Reading, Pa. Computer systems analyst $89,990 3.8% below $93,545
77 Washington, D.C. Software systems developer $122,630 19.1% above $102,964
78 Macon, Ga. Software systems developer $99,960 13.8% below $115,963
79 Rochester, Minn. Database administrator $92,600 6.1% below $98,616
80 Kansas City, Mo. Software systems developer $98,560 6.3% below $105,187
81 Sioux City, Iowa Computer systems analyst $85,070 11.1% below $95,692
82 Nashville, Tenn. Database administrator $87,390 5.6% below $92,574
83 Springfield, Mass. Computer systems analyst $88,280 2.6% below $90,637
84 Salt Lake City Database administrator $97,330 0.6% below $97,918
85 Appleton, Wis. Information security analyst $113,640 8.1% below $123,656
86 Davenport, Iowa Computer network architect $113,840 9.8% below $126,208
87 Atlantic City, N.J. Computer network architect $116,310 3.5% above $112,377
88 Santa Barbara, Calif. Computer network architect $126,740 9.5% above $115,744
89 Charlottesville, Va. Computer systems analyst $94,250 2.1% below $96,272
90 Ogden, Utah Database administrator $95,290 4.9% below $100,200
91 Philadelphia Computer systems analyst $95,100 5.9% above $89,802
92 Albuquerque, N.M. Computer network architect $112,260 3.7% below $116,573
93 Cumberland, Md. Software systems developer $99,240 11.9% below $112,645
94 Midland, Texas Computer programmer $101,530 0.8% above $100,724
95 Bridgeport, Conn. Computer network architect $123,550 20.10% above $102,873
96 Memphis, Tenn. Computer network architect $108,530 9.0% below $119,264
97 Cape Girardeau, Mo. Computer network administrator $80,530 17.3% below $97,376
98 Blacksburg, Va. Database administrator $87,920 11.5% below $99,345
99 Longview, Texas Computer programmer $100,650 9.1% below $110,726
100 Lawrence, Kan. Computer programmer $120,810 7.3% below $130,324

Methodology: This study used annual median wages (calculated as hourly mean wage multiplied by 2,080 hours) in 350 U.S. metropolitan areas, per Occupational Employment Statistics reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for eight different computer and IT occupations: computer network architects, computer programmers, computer systems analysts, database administrators, information security analysts, computer network administrators, software systems developers, and web developers. All wage data is for May 2017 and was released in March 2018.

The wages in a metropolitan area were normalized for the regional price parity (RPP), a measure of local costs of living reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, to compare real incomes between cities and occupations more accurately. RPPs were estimated for 2016 and released in May 2018.

We compared and scored RPP-adjusted incomes for each occupation, across all cities surveyed. Lastly, the city’s scores for each occupation were aggregated and averaged to generate the total rankings listed here.

Please note that U.S. cities were excluded from this list for which an RPP number was missing, or if they didn’t have median annual wages reported for at least two of the eight occupations considered here.

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5 Important Disclosures for Navient.

Navient Disclosures

You can choose between fixed and variable rates. Fixed interest rates are 3.99% – 8.74% APR (3.74% – 8.49% APR with Auto Pay discount). Starting variable interest rates are 2.74% APR to 8.24% APR (2.49% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Variable rates are based on an index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus a margin. Variable rates are reset monthly based on the fluctuation of the index. We do not currently offer variable rate loans in AK, CO, CT, HI, IL, KY, MA, MN, MS, NH, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.

6 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

Fixed rates range from 3.99% APR to 8.24% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 3.24% APR to 8.24% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.

7 Important Disclosures for Purefy.

Purefy Disclosures

Purefy Student Loan Refinancing Rate and Terms Disclosure: Annual Percentage Rates (APR) ranges and examples are based on information provided to Purefy by lenders participating in Purefy’s rate comparison platform. For student loan refinancing, the participating lenders offer fixed rates ranging from 2.73% – 7.99% APR, and variable rates ranging from 1.74% – 7.99% APR. The maximum variable rate is 25.00%. Your interest rate will be based on the lender’s requirements. In most cases, lenders determine the interest rates based on your credit score, degree type and other credit and financial criteria. Only borrowers with excellent credit and meeting other lender criteria will qualify for the lowest rate available. Rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice. Terms and conditions apply.  

8 Important Disclosures for Citizens.

CitizensBank Disclosures

Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69%-9.92% (3.69%-9.92% APR). Fixed interest rates range from  4.49%-10.11% (4.49%-10.11% APR). 

Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 6.39%- 9.60% (6.39% – 9.60% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 6.58% – 9.79% (6.58% – 9.79% APR).

Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69% – 9.16% (3.69% – 9.16% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% – 9.35% (4.49% – 9.35% APR).

Education Refinance Loan for Parents Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69%- 9.09% (3.69%- 9.09% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% – 9.28% (4.49% – 9.28% APR).

Medical Residency Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69% – 9.16% (3.69% – 9.16% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% – 9.35% (4.49% – 9.35% APR).