The tech industry is booming across the country. From big cities to small ones, successful startups are taking root, and job prospects for tech workers are rising precipitously and show no signs of stopping. Lots of people want to get in on the tech boom, and SmartAsset wanted to find out what cities are truly making the most of it.
For two hundred cities, we collected data on average wages for all workers, average wages for tech workers and percentage of all workers who are employed in tech from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We also looked at the cost of living index for each city from the Census Bureau. We then ranked the cities for three categories, giving high marks for high relative pay for tech workers, high percentages of tech workers in the workforce (representing high levels of opportunity in the field) and low cost of living indices. The total of these three rankings became the cities’ overall tech industry scores.
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The Best Cities to be a Tech Worker
Using that criteria, we found these ten cities have the best climates to work in tech:
Omaha has five Fortune 500 companies – a full one percent of the entire index – headquartered within its city limits. Four of them are global-scale firms which need a lot of tech infrastructure support (food manufacturer ConAgra, America’s biggest train operator Union Pacific, construction goliath Kiewit, and national insurers Mutual of Omaha), and the fifth is Warren Buffett’s holding company (a phrase which hardly does the scale of the thing justice) Berkshire Hathaway.
Omaha benefits from average internet speeds of 35.6 megabytes per second, which is 50 percent greater than the national average. The costs of living there are a mere 88.3 percent of the national average, 3.8 percent of all Omaha workers are tech employees, and those tech workers make 74 percent more than the city average.
Besides the diversity and strength of the industries in Omaha, which also include the country’s largest privately-held bank, numerous energy producers and the Gallup polling organization, some draws of the city are its frontier history and the NCAA Baseball College World Series tournament.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs is the second-largest city in Colorado after Denver, and although it may not be as well-known as the state capital, it has plenty of claims to fame on its own. It is located at the base of the iconic mountain of the American west, Pikes Peak. Colorado Springs is responsible for manufacturing a lot of the United States’ high-tech equipment, including servers and semiconductors.
Colorado Springs also has longtime military ties, with the United States Air Force Academy located there, as well as major defense contractors, and the nonprofit Space Foundation, which is dedicated to raising money to continue human exploration of outer space. The cost of living in Colorado Springs is 92.8 percent of the national average, 5 percent of all employees there work in tech, and those tech workers make 84 percent more than the city average.
Located in the far north of Alabama, Huntsville is nicknamed the “Rocket City” because of its contributions to America’s space race efforts. The main linchpins of Huntsville’s economy, which employs 6.5 percent tech workers (the highest on our top ten list), continue to be NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the US Army Aviation and Missile Command. The University of Alabama-Huntsville also drives the tech sector with its engineering degree programs. Huntsville’s cost of living index is 91.2 percent of the average.
Dallas has always had something of a cowboy reputation, but it is now home to some very modern companies and industries. The headquarters of electronics manufacturer Texas Instruments is in Dallas, and the city also has major offices of AT&T and ExxonMobil. The Dallas area is even sometimes nicknamed “Silicon Prairie.” About 4 percent of all Dallas workers are in the tech industry, and they make 73 percent higher wages than the city average.
The Illinois capital, Springfield, has one particularly noteworthy geographical feature that is also connected to its tech industry. Lake Springfield is an artificial body of water owned by the City Water, Light and Power company, and this utilities firm provides many of the tech jobs that account for Springfield’s 2.3 percent technology employment. Living in Springfield is a relative bargain, with a cost of living that’s just 85.8 percent of the national average (the lowest cost of living on our top ten list).