Rankings: The 100 Best Cities to Work in Tech

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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 occupationBest region
Computer systems analystMidwest
Information security analystWest
Computer programmerSouth
Software systems developerSouth
Web developerSouth
Database administratorMidwest
Computer network administratorSouth
Computer network architectNortheast

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).

RankCityTop local tech jobTop tech job salaryCost of living, compared to national averageReal income (salary adjusted for cost of living)
1Hinesville, Ga.Computer systems analyst$92,0009.7% below$101,883
2Charlotte, N.C.Software systems developer$112,3206.5% below$120,128
3Hattiesburg, Miss.Computer systems analyst$78,78017.9% below$95,956
4New Bern, N.C.Computer programmer$104,40014.6% below$122,248
5California, Md.Web developer$90,6100.3% above$90,339
6St. LouisDatabase administrator$95,3209.2% below$104,978
7Winston-Salem, N.C.Computer network architect$117,48011.0% below$132,000
8Raleigh, N.C.Database administrator$102,4304.1% below$106,809
9Rocky Mount, N.C.Database administrator$86,27016.1% below$102,825
10Staunton-Waynesboro, Va.Software systems developer$112,40015.2% below$132,547
11Huntsville, Ala.Computer systems analyst$89,47010.6% below$100,078
12Brunswick, Ga.Software systems developer$98,78014.4% below$115,397
13Monroe, Mich.Computer systems analyst$99,7106.0% below$106,074
14Birmingham, Ala.Database administrator$90,91011.2% below$102,376
15AtlantaComputer network architect$114,1003.7% below$118,484
16DallasComputer network architect$117,8000.2% above$117,565
17Columbus, Ga.Database administrator$100,06010.7% below$112,049
18Durham, N.C.Computer network architect$110,0704.8% below$115,620
19Austin, TexasComputer network architect$122,5300% (same as average)$122,530
20SeattleComputer programmer$129,47010.5% above$117,167
21Decatur, Ala.Computer systems analyst$88,28015.7% below$104,721
22Columbus, OhioDatabase administrator$97,2807% below$104,602
23Rome, Ga.Computer programmer$105,91018.9% below$130,592
24Providence, R.I.Computer network architect$117,7600.3% below$118,114
25Lynchburg, Va.Information security analyst$112,13010.2% below$124,866
26Cedar Rapids, IowaWeb developer$86,12010.7% below$96,439
27HoustonSoftware systems developer$110,8301.6% above$109,085
28Hartford, Conn.Computer network architect$120,8001.5% above$119,015
29Greensboro, N.C.Computer network architect$111,54010.2% below$124,209
30Jackson, Mich.Computer systems analyst$97,56010.4% below$108,884
31Gainesville, Ga.Computer systems analyst$94,21011.5% below$106,452
32Burlington, N.C.Computer network administrator$101,84010.6% below$113,915
33San AntonioComputer network architect$118,5105.6% below$125,540
34Winchester, Va.Computer network architect$121,2508.0% below$131,793
35Bloomsburg, Pa.Computer systems analyst$97,9906.7% below$105,027
36Springfield, OhioDatabase administrator$86,08012.1% below$97,929
37Richmond, Va.Computer systems analyst$94,5403.9% below$98,377
38San FranciscoWeb developer$104,40024.7% above$83,721
39Salisbury, Md.Software systems developer$113,19010.7% below$126,753
40Akron, OhioSoftware systems developer$100,37010.0% below$111,522
41Peoria, Ill.Database administrator$92,2409.2% below$101,586
42CincinnatiComputer systems analyst$84,35010.4% below$94,141
43Colorado Springs, Colo.Software systems developer$114,9800.4% below$115,442
44Kennewick, Wash.Information security analyst$109,5002.9% below$112,770
45Trenton, N.J.Database administrator$107,63011.3% above$96,703
46BaltimoreInformation security analyst$115,1707.2% above$107,435
47Sacramento, Calif.Computer network architect$121,5502.0% above$119,167
48Texarkana, TexasComputer systems analyst$83,83012.4% below$95,696
49Portland, Ore.Computer network architect$118,7901.7% above$116,804
50Montgomery, Ala.Information security analyst$95,18010.9% below$106,824
51Brownsville, TexasComputer programmer$100,83016.2% below$120,322
52San Jose, Calif.Computer network architect$146,94027.1% above$115,610
53DetroitComputer network architect$111,0504.1% below$115,798
54Valdosta, Ga.Software systems developer$96,22019.1% below$118,937
55Dayton, OhioComputer systems analyst$86,79010.0% below$96,433
56Springfield, Ill.Computer systems analyst$94,1709.0% below$103,484
57MinneapolisSoftware systems developer$114,8202.3% above$112,239
58DenverSoftware systems developer$115,1306.0% above$108,613
59PhoenixComputer systems analyst$90,6502.9% below$93,357
60Battle Creek, Mich.Computer programmer$107,6209.4% below$118,786
61Beaumont, TexasSoftware systems developer$102,31010.2% below$113,931
62Kingsport, Tenn.Computer systems analyst$86,70014.9% below$101,880
63Warner Robins, Ga.Software systems developer$103,80011.5% below$117,288
64Omaha, Neb.Database administrator$88,3706.6% below$94,615
65Auburn, Ala.Computer programmer$94,46015.4% below$111,655
66Chattanooga, Tenn.Database administrator$87,71010.7% below$98,219
67ChicagoComputer network architect$113,9503.8% above$109,778
68Sierra Vista, Ariz.Computer systems analyst$89,45010.4% below$99,833
69Fresno, Calif.Computer network architect$123,3803.7% below$128,120
70Bloomington, Ill.Computer systems analyst$87,9106.2% below$93,721
71Salem, Ore.Database administrator$89,2604.1% below$93,076
72Las VegasComputer network architect$108,1702.2% below$110,603
73Idaho Falls, IdahoSoftware systems developer$114,51010.2% below$127,517
74Pittsfield, Mass.Software systems developer$106,2703.8% below$110,468
75BostonWeb developer$84,33011.1% above$75,905
76Reading, Pa.Computer systems analyst$89,9903.8% below$93,545
77Washington, D.C.Software systems developer$122,63019.1% above$102,964
78Macon, Ga.Software systems developer$99,96013.8% below$115,963
79Rochester, Minn.Database administrator$92,6006.1% below$98,616
80Kansas City, Mo.Software systems developer$98,5606.3% below$105,187
81Sioux City, IowaComputer systems analyst$85,07011.1% below$95,692
82Nashville, Tenn.Database administrator$87,3905.6% below$92,574
83Springfield, Mass.Computer systems analyst$88,2802.6% below$90,637
84Salt Lake CityDatabase administrator$97,3300.6% below$97,918
85Appleton, Wis.Information security analyst$113,6408.1% below$123,656
86Davenport, IowaComputer network architect$113,8409.8% below$126,208
87Atlantic City, N.J.Computer network architect$116,3103.5% above$112,377
88Santa Barbara, Calif.Computer network architect$126,7409.5% above$115,744
89Charlottesville, Va.Computer systems analyst$94,2502.1% below$96,272
90Ogden, UtahDatabase administrator$95,2904.9% below$100,200
91PhiladelphiaComputer systems analyst$95,1005.9% above$89,802
92Albuquerque, N.M.Computer network architect$112,2603.7% below$116,573
93Cumberland, Md.Software systems developer$99,24011.9% below$112,645
94Midland, TexasComputer programmer$101,5300.8% above$100,724
95Bridgeport, Conn.Computer network architect$123,55020.10% above$102,873
96Memphis, Tenn.Computer network architect$108,5309.0% below$119,264
97Cape Girardeau, Mo.Computer network administrator$80,53017.3% below$97,376
98Blacksburg, Va.Database administrator$87,92011.5% below$99,345
99Longview, TexasComputer programmer$100,6509.1% below$110,726
100Lawrence, Kan.Computer programmer$120,8107.3% 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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Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 10/26/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


5 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 11/13/2020 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.97% to 8.54% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% to 8.77% Fixed APR with AutoPay.