Places with the Best (and Worst) Tech Salaries

Salary, Money
Tech salary goes further in some cities.

While other factors are important to happiness in the workplace, we still measure success by our salaries. A new study provides a bit of insight into where you can expect to earn the most – and least.

Robert Half’s annual Salary Guide details what tech professionals are earning. It shows the national income average for various positions, and where those salaries fall on the spectrum of earnings.

When those salaries are broken down by city, though, the survey asks that you do a bit of math. Rather than tell us a tech professional in Fresno, California makes “x” amount, for example, Robert Half provides an earnings percentage versus the national mean salary (it uses its own data as well as that from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The analyst firm also suggests its findings are a guide, not the Kelly Blue Book of earning potential, so enjoy its findings with many grains of salt.

For example: If a tech professional earns $80,000 annually on average, that same pro should expect to earn 30 percent less in Fresno. Cities such as Macon, Georgia and Mobile, Alabama are experiencing similar downturns.

Naturally, there are explanations for such variances. Washington, D.C. professionals make 33 percent more than the average; same with Chicago at 23.5 percent. Cost of living is higher in those locales, so we’d expect a bit more earning power there. In the case of Washington, D.C., there’s also fierce competition for specialized tech talent that can handle massive projects for the federal government and various contractors, helping boost salaries.

Some geographies are experiencing a tech boom, contributing to expanded salaries. Salaries in Boulder, Colorado are up 17.5 percent, for instance; Midland/Odessa, Texas is up 10 percent. Woodbridge, New Jersey salaries are 26.5 percent above average.

It’s very possible that salaries in some of these locales are seeing upticks due to other, non-tech industries that need tech talent. Boulder, Odessa and Woodbridge are just three examples of where tech salaries are jumping, but none are considered well-heeled tech hubs. Nor are those cities emerging as tech centers in their own right.

As we’ve said before, avoiding Silicon Valley is sometimes your best bet. Now we have more information on which locations might prove most lucrative.

16 Responses to “Places with the Best (and Worst) Tech Salaries”

  1. What would be really interesting would be a comparison of salary and cost of living for each location.

    Before dashing off to D.C. or somewhere else that appears to be a goldmine, check out the price of a decent home there!

  2. With all due respect, you all, and RHT, failed to address the main point of IT salaries, and that is that except for a blip during late 90s and Y2K, those have been stagnant over the past 30 years, and have not kept up with the drop in value of the mighty US dollar.

    Thanks to the HCLs, Tatas, Infosyses, Cognizants, and their ilk, and Microsoft’s, Facebook’s, etc. support of the abuse of the H1-B visa debacle, consulting rates and salaries have been kept depressed beyond reasonableness. At a time when employers are falsely claiming that there is not enough local talent, they have done nothing to address this “fake” shortage of IT expertise by raising salaries as true Supply and Demand principles dictate.

    Shameful greed.

    Case in point, you can hire today a contract programmer of most modern languages and environments at the same absolute dollar hourly rate that you could hire someone equally qualified 30 years ago. During that time the dollar lost 2/3 of its buying power!

    Part of the fault for this lies in the geeks themselves, who could not get their act together as lawyers, accountants, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc. did, and form a serious association, the like of the ABA, AMA, APA, etc., with lobbying capacity and power. Instead, the geeks concentrated on getting IT standards, improved efficiency, better tools, better skills and technologies, all saving money for the employers, and not pay standards that kept up with inflation. They made their own work commodity, and it will soon be replaced by AI robots too.

    So, while the comparison of pay among regions of the country is mildly interesting, it does not even remotely address the key problem, that of the deteriorating level of pay throughout the industry.

    Even Dice plays along, every so often telling us about a 2.5% or whatever increase in pay year-over-year in absolute numbers, but not in comparison to the declining value of the dollar.

    Not cool.

    • Bicanoo_magic

      Totally agree. I’m in Australia and been in the industry for evaaaa, and see exactly the same situation here.

      Salaries are the same today as they were 20 years ago senior IT Project Managers got paid around USD$160K when houses were like USD$200k. Now a IT PM gets around USD$120K while a house in Sydney costs a minimum of USD$1.5M while the average house price is over USD$2M!

      In very real terms inflation and cheap overseas Indian labour has seen the salaries plummet.

      The consulting industries did the same thing here. They lobbied that there was a local shortage of talent and justified the wholesale import of super cheap, temporary Indian labour.

      The fact that these guys were very inexperienced and inefficient only sought to further put money in the pockets of the owners. The customer got screwed royally because of these inefficiencies.

      They would charge these resources out at AUD$1400/day and pay them as low as AUD$200/day.. they’d take ten times longer to do a job which suited the consultant owners just fine.

      Eventually the customers figured out that the quality and delivery was substandard but not before blowing millions on failed projects.

      You can still earn USD$200K+ but you have to be contractor and be good. But in general, our government has majorly contributed to the bludgeoning of our IT industry in Australia.