15 Best Cities for STEM Careers (and Quality of Life)

It’s a good time to work in a STEM field—many companies are hungry for engineers, developers, and mathematicians. But not every metro area is a good one for STEM careers; for example, many have lots of job opportunities, but a stratospheric cost of living, while others simply lack jobs.

WalletHub recently crunched some numbers and came up with best metro areas for STEM professionals. In an utterly unsurprising turn of events, some of the country’s biggest tech hubs topped the list (despite higher costs of living), although some smaller towns also did quite well.

WalletHub graded 100 metro areas on three benchmarks:

  • Professional opportunities (including job openings, share of workforce in STEM, projected demand for STEM jobs, etc.)
  • STEM friendliness (quality of local engineering universities, tech meetups per capita, etc.)
  • Quality of life (housing affordability, family-friendliness, and so on.)

Here are the results for the top 15 cities:

Or if you’re the visual type, here’s a map:

Source: WalletHub


It seems natural that Seattle landed in first place: After all, the area around the West Coast metropolis is home to Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing, and lots of other technology companies that need STEM pros. Boston’s strong university culture (MIT, Harvard, and Boston University are nearby) and cluster of technology firms no doubt helped it land second place. And in addition to a strong university ecosystem, third-place Pittsburgh boasts a rising number of tech firms, including an Uber facility devoted to autonomous-vehicle research.

This study also highlights how STEM jobs aren’t limited to a few key hubs; encouraged by the tax revenue that comes with big tech companies setting up shop in their backyards, city governments across the country have been doing more to attract STEM-rich firms. In some cases, there’s a lot of upside; for example, towns such as Salt Lake City have benefitted from an influx of companies and STEM workers fleeing California. However, there are downsides, as well; many residents and lawmakers in New York City reacted badly to the prospect of Amazon setting up one half of its “second headquarters” there, fearful of skyrocketing housing prices.

For STEM workers across the U.S., the message here is pretty clear: There are lots of places around the country with good quality of living… and great job opportunities.