Top 25 Best-Paying U.S. Cities for Software Engineers

What are the best-paying cities in America for software engineers? A new study suggests that metro areas in California continue to dominate when it comes to compensation—despite significant technologist migration from Silicon Valley to cities such as Austin and New York.

This study comes from Blind, which surveys (anonymous) technologists on a range of issues. In addition to overall compensation, the full study (which listed 50 cities) also analyzed base salary. For the below excerpt, we’re only listing the top 25 cities and overall compensation, but you can (and should) check out Blind’s website for the more complete breakdown. 

What can we conclude from this list? Despite numerous news stories over the past few years about how Silicon Valley is “dying” as a tech hub, and how thousands of technologists are fleeing the West Coast for other metro areas, it’s clear that California cities offer some of the highest possible technologist salaries, suggesting strong technologist demand (and tech-industry activity). 

This is largely due to the tech companies headquartered in those cities, of course. Los Gatos is home to Netflix, which is famous for paying extraordinarily high salaries to technologists (provided those technologists provide extraordinary results in return). Menlo Park (Facebook), Cupertino (Apple), and Mountain View (Google) are home-sweet-home to thousands of the nation’s highest-compensated, ultra-specialized technologists, working for the world’s highest-earning, largest tech companies—thus, their dominance of this list.  

It's a similar situation in Kirkland and Seattle in Washington state, as well as New York City and Cambridge, MA: All of these cities have well-established tech scenes with insanely-monetized companies willing to pay hefty salaries and stock options to pull in the best talent, ensuring their placement on pretty much any “best-paying” list. In that context, the presence on this list of Boulder, CO, and Los Angeles suggests they’re up-and-coming tech hubs, with rising salaries to match.  

While the past two years have witnessed a certain amount of tech-industry migration—for example, Texas has benefitted enormously from tech companies moving their headquarters and other facilities from California to Austin—California’s tech industry remains robust, at least if we’re looking through the filter of compensation. According to Dice’s latest Tech Salary Report, the average technologist salary now stands at $104,566 nationwide. 

4 Responses to “Top 25 Best-Paying U.S. Cities for Software Engineers”

  1. Yah, reading blind is an eye opener and a kick in the a/$/$ and a wakeup slap for any SAVVY technologist. Any IT’er that is NOT reading blind these days is blind to their own futures. And the great thing about blind is that The Community DEMANDS complete honesty and disclosure, ie, their catchphrase, “TC or GTFO”. blind is 20/20 vision for any technologist’s future. Ignore it at your own $$$$ peril.

  2. Doug Hoover

    Surely these numbers are biased by the fact that bigger companies outsource lower paid jobs. (They don’t contract directly any more.) Either they are salaries for actual employees only, or they are what the “real” employer pays the outsourcing firm, not what the techie gets.

  3. @DougHoover:

    No, you’re wrong.

    The individuals are actually getting those salaries in the form of TC (Total Compensation) which includes base salary, bonuses, sign-on bonuses (such sign-on bonuses are now given TWICE, once in the first year of employment, and then repeated in the second year, both years pro-rated and spread out over each year), and stock.

    Invest some time and read blind .

    An fictitious, but realistic, example:
    SWE (SoftWare Engineer) interviewing/offered at GOOGLE:
    Base: $215K offer
    Sign-On Bonus 1: $89K, 1st year, spread over 12 months
    Sign-On Bonus 2: $59K, 2nd year, spread over 12 months
    Bonus: $135K, guaranteed
    Stock: $135K, short-term vesting
    TC: $633K

    It’s ridiculous, but real.
    Take some time. Read blind . Look it up.

    Information Technology is an opportunist’s game now. And you’re either in or out.

    Again, it’s ridiculous.

    I’ve earned the right to pen that. I’ve ~38 years in IT. Have never made anywheres NEAR that kind of coin.

    I’m done. I’ve had it.

    If you can’st beats ’em, joins ’em.

    I’m goin’ strictly for the cash now.

    Get outta my way.

  4. This article fails to make the correlation between these salaries and the cost of living in those areas. Of course, they would be paid more than smaller metro areas. I’m sure there is a lot of competition which drives up the salaries as well.