Where can web developers make the most money? As you probably suspect, major tech hubs such as San Francisco, Seattle, and San Jose pay out the biggest salaries to those tech professionals who build the frameworks (literally and metaphorically) of the modern web. That being said, it’s also worth analyzing the non-metropolitan areas where web developers can pull down great pay.
After all, not all web developers want to move to a major tech hub. The cost of living in such places is often ridiculous, eating away at all but the highest salaries. By contrast, working from a “non-metropolitan area” (i.e., not a huge city) ensures that even a relatively modest web developer salary can cover life’s staples without driving you too deep into a financial hole.
Let’s kick off with the states and U.S. territories that offer highest pay for web developers, based off data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This data comes from mid-2018, but the Dice Salary Survey shows us that salaries for tech professionals in general have been pretty stagnant over the last year; we can assume that this data hasn’t deviated much (if at all) in the past twelve months.
No surprises here: Washington, home of “old school” tech giants such as Amazon and Microsoft, in addition to a plethora of startups and other companies in need of web-development talent, tops the list. Coming in second and third are Virginia and Washington, DC, which benefit from federal government spending (including the contractors that take federal contracts). California and New Jersey (close to NYC) take fourth and fifth.
Let’s move on to metropolitan areas with highest pay for web developers:
Again, no huge surprises here: Two Silicon Valley stalwarts—San Francisco and San Jose—occupy the first and third positions on the list, respectively, with Seattle plugged firmly into second. More interesting: The presence of cities that one wouldn’t associate with “tech hubs,” such as Sacramento, Denver, and Columbia, SC. Although the cost of living in those cities has been steadily creeping upward, they’re still generally cheaper than San Francisco.
New York’s placement at the bottom of the list also comes as somewhat of a surprise, considering the density of companies in need of web talent, and the generally higher salaries on offer. Granted, $84,310 is still nothing to sneeze at, but it’s lower than some might expect.
Now let’s look at non-metropolitan areas with highest pay for web developers:
This is where things get interesting. Massachusetts is a small state, and the high “non-metropolitan” salaries might be a “halo” effect from nearby Boston, which is a tech hub with lots of growing tech (and non-tech) companies. (Northeast Virginia, further down the list, no doubt enjoys the same sort of effect, thanks to its proximity to Washington, DC and the Northern Virginia Tech Corridor.)
It’s a similar story with northwest Colorado, provided the BLS definition of that zone includes the areas near Boulder, Denver, and Fort Collins—that would mean lots of tech professionals in that ecosystem who don’t necessarily live in those cities.
The presence of Minnesota might seem surprising, but the state has attracted tech jobs (and high tech salaries) for years; earlier in 2019, for instance, it placed on Dice’s list of the top states for tech professional salaries. Cities such as Minneapolis-Saint Paul have a healthy mix of startups and major corporations, and local schools provide a robust pipeline of local talent. That clearly benefits the more rural areas of the state in addition to its urban areas.
As for Ohio, our best guess is that it’s a similar situation to Colorado—the proximity of Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo means lots of web developers who benefit from being near job hubs, but don’t necessarily live within city limits. Hooray for remote work!
In the meantime, if you’d like a cost-of-living comparison for web developers in various metro areas, as well as Dice’s breakdown of web developer salaries in those cities, check this out. As with other tech professions, web developer salaries hinge mightily on skills and experience.