The technology industry is booming, and the benefits are spreading far and wide — in California’s Silicon Valley and beyond. Metropolitan areas across the nation are home to opportunities in a variety of tech jobs.
Companies also are hiring for roles ranging from software developers and Web developers to computer and information research scientists and everything in between. The most successful tech cities are home to big companies or are places that encourage startups through accelerator programs and venture capital investment.
Best of the best
NerdWallet examined the nation’s 370 largest metropolitan areas to find the best places for tech jobs. All of the top 10 places for tech jobs feature more opportunities than the national average of 18 tech jobs for every 1,000 employees. The tech workers on our list are paid very well — every metro area on our list has a relatively higher average salary than the national mean of just under $70,500. Only one place in our top 10, however, has a lower median rent than the average median rent of the places we analyzed.
Here’s what we analyzed to find the best places for tech jobs:
Size of the tech industry. We examined the number of tech jobs for 1,000 employees in each metro area, using 2014 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Income for tech jobs. We looked at the annual mean salary for tech jobs in each area. We also considered the median gross rent as a cost-of-living metric to see how far the average income went in every place.
Tech jobs are geographically diverse. Some places on our list are expected — Silicon Valley and Seattle — but tech hubs are found throughout the country. On the East Coast, tech companies are thriving in the Washington, D.C., corridor and the Boston metro area. To the south, there’s Huntsville, Alabama, and the Research Triangle in North Carolina. Boulder, Colorado, and the Silicon Hills of Austin, Texas, also made our list.
Information technology is the leader. Although all tech industry careers are flourishing, most of the top places on our list are computer science and information technology hubs. Opportunities in other areas, such as aerospace, biotech and other science- and research-based fields are most popular in the South’s Research Triangle and in Huntsville.
Best places for tech jobs in 2015
1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
It’s no surprise to see the heart of Silicon Valley at the top of our list: A whopping 126 of every 1,000 jobs are in the tech industry. The average tech salary here is also the highest on our list at more than $130,000 a year. Likewise, rents are high, with a median of over $1,600 a month. The valley is home to thousands of tech companies and startups, including big names in the industry: Apple, Adobe and eBay. Silicon Valley also made our lists of Best Places for Engineers and Best Places for STEM Graduates.
2. Huntsville, Alabama
The heart of the Southern tech scene is in Huntsville, Alabama. In Rocket City, 68 of every 1,000 jobs are in technology-related fields. Average salaries are on the lower end of our list at $92,296 annually, but median rent is cheapest at $725 a month. The city also made our list of Best Places for Engineers. The main drivers in Huntsville are at Cummings Research Park, a science and technology business park with hundreds of companies, and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
3. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Washington
The Seattle metro area, including Bellevue and Everett, is anchored by tech giants Amazon and Microsoft, as well as the region’s aerospace mainstay the Boeing Co., but there’s also room for smaller companies, such as Expedia and Zillow. Meanwhile, Google, Facebook and Twitter all have operations in the area. Among these three cities, 77 of every 1,000 jobs are in tech. Salaries are on the higher end of our list at over $108,000 a year on average. In this Pacific Northwest area, median rent is over $1,100 a month. The region also made our list of Best Places for STEM Graduates.
4. Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Two-thirds of the North Carolina Research Triangle is the Durham-Chapel Hill area, where 66 of every 1,000 jobs are in tech. Here, salaries are over $94,500, while rents are the second lowest on our list at $870 a month. Big companies, including IBM and Cisco, have homes at Research Triangle Park. Companies and cities partner to encourage startups with several accelerator programs, and others, such as American Underground, based in Durham, host office space along with a Google for Entrepreneurs tech hub.
5. Boulder, Colorado
In Boulder, 70 of every 1,000 jobs are in the tech industry. Average salaries fall just shy of six figures, while rents hover at $1,168 a month. Venture capital firms in Boulder, such as Foundry Group and Techstars, focus on tech opportunities. Major companies including Twitter and Oracle have snatched up Boulder companies, and others maintain outposts here. Some tech companies that call the city home are Backflip Studios, Sphero, Alteryx, Rally Software and PivotDesk.
6. San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, California
Just north of the heart of Silicon Valley, Redwood City, San Mateo and San Francisco are home to the biggest names in tech, including Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Yelp, Salesforce, Dropbox, Yahoo, Oracle and many more. In this area, 72 of every 1,000 jobs are in technology fields, the average annual salary is our list’s second highest at over $113,000, but rents are also among the highest with a median of $1,435 a month. This area also made our list of Best Places for STEM Graduates.
7. Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia
In the metro area around the nation’s capital, about 79 of every 1,000 jobs are in tech. Venture capitalists and accelerator programs help the industry thrive, and in D.C. alone, there are over 1,000 tech startups. Last year, the mayor of Washington, D.C., unveiled an economic development initiative, Digital DC. Tech workers see salaries of over $104,000 on average, but they also pay the second-highest rents on our list at a median of $1,481 a month. Companies in the area include TrackMaven, Brazen Careerist, Silica Labs, Urgent.ly, Soundtracker, Encore Alert, Speek, EverFi, ID.me and more. These powerhouse locations also made our list of Best Places for STEM Graduates.
8. Raleigh-Cary, North Carolina
In the second North Carolina Research Triangle area on our list, 56 of every 1,000 jobs are in tech. Raleigh-Cary is ideal for tech employees looking for affordable living, with median rent at $908. The area also made our list of Best Places for STEM Graduates. Tech companies such as Red Hat call Raleigh-Cary home, while over 170 companies are based at Research Triangle Park. Nearby universities help supply a flow of dynamic workers for one of the new metro areas set to welcome Google’s high-speed fiber-optic Internet service.
9. Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas
Austin, Round Rock and San Marcos in Texas make up the area affectionately dubbed “Silicon Hills.” Due to venture capital interest and a wealth of incubators and accelerators, startups thrive in the Austin area, where about 58 of every 1,000 jobs are in tech. Although the area’s tech workers see the lowest salaries on our list at just over $84,300 a year, rents are also lower at a median of $1,000 a month. The area is home to Dell, IBM, HomeAway, Yodle, Jobs2Careers, Phunware, RetailMeNot, Bazaarvoice, Main Street Hub and more. Of course, Austin also hosts the annual South by Southwest festival, which showcases new and emerging technologies.
10. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Massachusetts
Between startups and flourishing mainstays, the Boston area continues to make its mark on the tech world. Here, 57 of every 1,000 jobs are in tech, and workers can expect average salaries just over six figures. Rents are the fourth highest on our list at a median of $1,200 a month. Companies that call the Boston area home include HubSpot, Constant Contact, Wayfair, TripAdvisor, HourlyNerd, Demandware, WordStream, Bit9, Jibo, Fiksu, Bullhorn, CarGurus and more. The area also made our list of Best Places for STEM Graduates.
Best places for tech jobs in 2015
|Rank||Metro area||Tech employees per 1,000 jobs||Average tech salary||Median rent||Overall score|
|1||San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||126.27||$130,179.80||$1,640.00||75.00|
|4||Durham-Chapel Hill, NC||66.16||$94,535.35||$870.00||58.18|
|6||San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA||72.47||$113,093.16||$1,435.00||53.42|
|9||Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX||58.82||$84,366.35||$1,000.00||49.73|
|12||Cedar Rapids, IA||40.43||$80,076.22||$672.00||48.35|
|14||Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC||41.65||$90,666.03||$835.00||48.13|
|15||Colorado Springs, CO||52.58||$85,434.58||$976.00||48.04|
|18||Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI||44.50||$86,452.42||$911.00||46.50|
|20||Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA||43.74||$87,779.10||$947.00||45.77|
|22||Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA||39.37||$80,131.23||$795.00||45.27|
|23||Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL||39.84||$84,043.53||$876.00||44.75|
|24||Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT||40.07||$91,626.25||$978.00||44.66|
|28||Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA||37.62||$77,597.25||$783.00||44.16|
|31||Kansas City, MO-KS||38.31||$79,361.89||$834.00||43.80|
|33||St. Louis, MO-IL||34.38||$82,426.88||$814.00||43.49|
|34||Lansing-East Lansing, MI||40.82||$69,752.26||$789.00||43.21|
|36||Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX||30.42||$92,314.13||$886.00||42.99|
|40||Fort Collins-Loveland, CO||39.50||$83,961.79||$986.00||42.21|
|47||Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI||31.80||$78,935.40||$807.00||41.68|
|57||Ann Arbor, MI||39.68||$74,280.41||$930.00||40.91|
|63||Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL||32.28||$85,225.93||$966.00||40.11|
|64||State College, PA||36.01||$71,576.71||$869.00||40.05|
|65||Jefferson City, MO||30.87||$58,575.28||$617.00||39.98|
|66||Salt Lake City, UT||35.49||$77,451.64||$935.00||39.98|
|67||New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ||33.67||$104,580.78||$1,237.00||39.96|
|73||Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR||30.21||$69,537.08||$754.00||39.68|
|75||Fort Worth-Arlington, TX||26.85||$86,618.05||$908.00||39.57|
|77||Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA||26.65||$84,773.99||$885.00||39.49|
|79||Green Bay, WI||26.95||$68,314.26||$706.00||39.09|
|81||Las Cruces, NM||18.74||$75,804.77||$650.00||39.03|
|82||Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL||31.67||$78,692.60||$925.00||39.00|
|85||Warner Robins, GA||26.95||$75,241.55||$805.00||38.80|
|86||Greensboro-High Point, NC||20.49||$77,203.12||$711.00||38.78|
|88||San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX||27.64||$78,342.53||$857.00||38.78|
|90||San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA||37.92||$96,736.56||$1,289.00||38.43|
|91||Burlington-South Burlington, VT||35.67||$76,171.54||$996.00||38.39|
|92||Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY||24.47||$70,354.10||$718.00||38.39|
|99||Oklahoma City, OK||25.15||$70,442.50||$762.00||37.73|
Here’s how we calculated the score for each of the 370 largest U.S. metro areas:
1. Tech employees per 1,000 total jobs are 50% of the score. Data are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2014 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates.
2. Annual mean wage for tech jobs is 25% of the score. Data are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2014 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates.
3. Median gross rent for each place is 25% of the score. Data are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey.
This study focuses on the following occupations as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics: applications software developers, systems software developers, computer systems analysts, computer and information systems managers, computer user support specialists, computer programmers, network and computer systems administrators, web developers, computer occupations, computer network support specialists, computer network architects, database administrators, information security analysts, computer and information research scientists.
San Jose, California, image via iStock.