Go west, tech entrepreneurs. Go east, young IT innovators. Go south, tech-savvy women. Go just about anyplace in the United States today, and you’ll find available IT jobs to suit a range of categories and experience levels. Of course, some states and cities offer better opportunities (and weather) than others, depending on your salary, work environment and lifestyle requirements. But whatever tech job you’re pursuing, it will probably be worth the chase.
The United States of Tech
In 2016, tech workers in the United States earned an average of $108,900, more than twice the national average of $53,040 across all other industries. Even if you take California (the state with the highest tech sector wage) out of the mix, the average tech salary remains strong at $99,540.
For a more granular look at wages, job growth, tech concentration, industry sector and other data on the national, state and city levels, check out Cyberstates 2017. In this snapshot, we take a look at where the tech jobs are at.
Growth and Declines
To start with, the tech industry (including core IT companies and tech divisions within other types of businesses) had a robust 2016, with 36 states adding jobs and 15 states losing them. Delaware, Kansas, Iowa, Tennessee and Mississippi were the hardest hit.
On the other end of the spectrum, California, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Michigan experienced the strongest tech job growth. Based on a percentage of change, Utah (6 percent), North Carolina (5.9 percent), Michigan (5.1 percent), Washington (4.9 percent) and Montana (4.5 percent) performed the best.
Hot Tech Cities
The top five cities for tech employment – New York City, San Jose, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Boston – had about 1.5 million IT workers, or about 25 percent of the country’s tech workforce. San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago and Seattle round out the top 10.
Show Me the Money
The salaries for tech workers in Washington, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia and New York also exceeded the national industry average. When it comes to metropolitan areas, San Jose tops the list with an average wage of $217,260. San Francisco ($168,920), Seattle ($145,460), Boston ($134,900) and New York City ($130,720) follow.
Just remember that the buying power of a New York City paycheck is a lot less than one in Indianapolis. And that Silicon Valley job might sound pretty sweet, until you consider the average home there (and we do mean average) sells for about $1 million. You’ll find much better deals on real estate in South Dakota, Mississippi, Wyoming, West Virginia and Montana, but those states have the country’s lowest average tech wages.
Compared with a city’s prevailing wage, San Diego and Seattle tie for the top spot with tech wages coming in at 115 percent over the mean local wage. Tech workers in Detroit, Nashville and Cleveland also receive a significant premium over the mean local wage (64 percent, 61 percent and 56 percent, respectively).
The Land of New Ideas
If you’re looking for the most innovative tech state – a category based on the number of tech patents granted, startups and new tech-related businesses – head to California, Massachusetts, Washington, Colorado or New Jersey.
And if you want to get in on the ground floor of a new company, Texas, Florida, New York and Virginia topped the startup and new business subcategories. Almost every state added new tech businesses in 2016, with 21 of them seeing at least a 2 percent increase.
The IT Gender Divide
Although men account for 66 percent of the tech workforce, the tide continues to change. Some states, though, do better than the average in employing women. Washington, D.C., tops the list at 39 percent, followed by South Dakota, Mississippi, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Tech jobs with the highest percentage of female workers include assemblers, computer operators, database administrators, computer systems analysts and information research scientists.
Among metropolitan areas, Memphis had the most balanced gender ratio, with women representing 38 percent of its tech workforce. About 43 percent work as database administrators, while 41 percent work as computer systems analysts.
Finding a satisfying job in a desired location takes planning, skill and a little luck. The right information also helps. Take a look at Cyberstates 2017 to start planning your next move in IT.