2018 Salary: $118,306
Year-over-year change: 3.2 percent
Silicon Valley tops the list for tech pro income. The average annual income for tech pros in the West Coast’s epicenter of technology is $118,306. This is a 3.2 percent gain versus the previous year, a growth rate outpacing other top-ten metro areas such as Washington D.C. and Denver.
But pump the brakes before moving here. Our cost of living data shows that $118,306 you make each year is more like $93,081. Is the slog of dealing with Silicon Valley commutes and housing prices worth relinquishing $25,000 annually? (That figure is the largest delta between income and cost of living in our Salary Survey; Silicon Valley living comes at a considerable premium.)
We’ve cautioned against moving to Silicon Valley in the past, and the newest Salary Survey gives us no reason to change that guidance. We know it’s expensive; some go into debt just to be there.
2018 Salary: $105,059
Year-over-year change: 5.7 percent
As in Silicon Valley, Seattle’s tech scene grew from the presence of major tech firms (in Seattle’s case, Microsoft and Amazon), and now features a variety of startups. Seattle’s annual tech pro income of $105,059 may not reach Silicon Valley heights, but it’s a very respectable salary nonetheless, and well above the national average for tech pros. (It’s also a 5.7 percent jump versus last year, one of the biggest increases on our top-ten list.)
Seattle also ranks in the top five for adjusted salary due to cost of living. Here, you only “lose” about $10,000: the $105,059 average salary is more like $95,076. In ranking the top adjusted salaries, Seattle came in fifth, one of only two cities to rank in the top five for both gross salary and adjusted income due to cost of living.
2018 Salary: $103,846
Year-over-year change: 2.8 percent
When you think ‘tech hub,’ you may not consider San Diego… but you should. Like Silicon Valley and Seattle, San Diego hosts a major player in tech (Qualcomm) and a thriving startup scene. The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) also has a great tech program flooding the area with graduates.
With an average tech salary of $103,846, San Diego checks in third on our list. Its average income represents a 2.8 percent increase over last year, which is very respectable.
But as with most major cities in California, San Diego has a cost-of-living problem. Though third on our list for income, it ranks 17th for adjusted income due to cost of living. Our data shows that a six-figure salary will feel a lot more like $89,291 in San Diego.
“In the tech sector, we have this issue with graduates moving up to Silicon Valley,” said Paul Roben, the associate vice chancellor on innovation at UCSD, in an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune. But as we know, the grass in Silicon Valley isn’t necessarily greener.