Which cities are paying tech professionals the highest average salaries? According to the latest Dice Salary Survey, those top cities include Silicon Valley (which encompasses San Francisco, San Jose, Mountain View, and other municipalities), Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C.
All of these cities enjoy a confluence of factors that make them strong tech hubs, including heavy concentrations of universities and colleges (ensuring a pipeline of young tech talent), the presence of venture-capital firms and other sources of funding, and a mix of established companies and startup firms. The presence of other industries (the federal government, in the case of D.C.; publishing and finance, in New York) also guarantees a steady stream of local clients for smaller firms that don’t yet have a national or international scope.
These cities share one other thing in common: a high cost of living. Local rents are often stratospheric, even in far-flung neighborhoods and subdivisions. In Silicon Valley, tech pros earning six-figure salaries sometimes have trouble finding an apartment that fits comfortably within their budget. That’s bad for cities attempting to foster growth and innovation, as it drives young, scrappy entrepreneurs to other towns and states—but it’s an opportunity for other regions to begin fostering tech hubs of their own.
For example, municipalities such as Salt Lake City and Raleigh have spent the past few years actively trying to spark tech-ecosystem growth, often by highlighting a comparatively low cost of living and more opportunities for a healthy work-life balance. Many of those smaller cities also have a strong educational ecosystems and research incubators (such as Raleigh’s Research Triangle), guaranteeing more tech talent. Uber created its autonomous-driving division in Pittsburgh, for example, in order to take advantage of the A.I. research being done at nearby Carnegie Mellon University.
A number of these growing tech hubs ranked within the Dice survey’s top 20 towns with higher tech salaries, including the aforementioned Raleigh (in 20th), Charlotte (14th), and Portland (15th). That suggests healthy competition within those cities for tech pros, which drives salaries higher; it’s more of an open question whether that spike is driven by a growing number of area tech firms, or other industries needing all kinds of tech pros in order to get things done.