As part of its annual Salary Survey (PDF), Dice generates a list of the U.S. states that offer the highest average salaries for tech professionals. Just as one might assume, many of the states that pay out the biggest salaries also host major tech hubs—California, which tops this year’s list, is not only the home of Silicon Valley but also Los Angeles and the up-and-coming “Silicon Beach.”
But it’s a testament to the widespread importance of technology that even states without a major tech hub can still offer high average salaries. A few years ago, most businesses could operate with a few specialized business programs and a handful of spreadsheets; now, thanks to advances in everything from cloud technology to machine learning, a company that’s not exploring how to apply the most cutting-edge technology is at risk of being cut into little pieces by advanced competition.
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That means businesses all across the country are hungry for a variety of tech pros, ranging from data analysts to mobile app builders. And that’s why the top-paying states aren’t concentrated along a particular coast, but found from sea to shining sea. (And if you’re looking for salary information for your own career, be sure to check out the Dice Careers App.)
We start off with…
2016 salary: $104,706
Year-over-year change: -1.3 percent
Over the past few years, Silicon Valley has enjoyed what is best described as a “unicorn stampede,” as startup after startup hit the all-important billion-dollar valuation. While many of those startups will eventually merge or IPO (earning some of their investors billions in the process), it hasn’t been totally smooth sailing: Uber, for example, probably wants a re-do on 2017.
Startup drama notwithstanding, Silicon Valley continues to serve as a preeminent tech powerhouse, drawing billions of dollars in continued investment. Tech giants such as Apple and Google relentlessly expand, plunging into new initiatives such as augmented reality and self-driving vehicles, even as startups keep proliferating.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles evolves into a tech hub in its own right. Snapchat (based in the beachside L.A. neighborhood of Venice) recently held its IPO, doubtlessly inspiring other tech startups to give the city a shot.
2016 salary: $103,711
Year-over-year change: 2.6 percent
CompTIA’s 2015 Cyberstates report suggested that one in 10 Massachusetts workers are employed in software, telecommunications, or another technology field. That the state hungers for qualified tech pros is no secret: the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council makes a regular point of emphasizing all the state’s open technology jobs.
And thanks to Harvard, MIT and other institutions, the state has a sizable pipeline of tech talent, ready to feed local firms such as EMC. The big question is whether those companies can persuade new talent to stay local once it graduates.