Tech salaries are on the rise across all major tech hubs, including Silicon Valley ($123,826), Seattle ($109,628) and Boston ($108,438), according to data from Dice Technology’s 2020 Tech Salary Report. But the real news is that many emerging tech hubs, with notably lower total costs of living, are doing just as well. These smaller cities and metro areas typically offer a blend of tech and non-tech companies seeking to hire IT workers for software development, computer engineering, cloud computing, IT support, customer service and more.
The following six emerging tech hubs are delivering significant tech salary gains and are pulling in new tech talent and companies thanks to access to venture capital, local universities and colleges and often a lower cost of living, according to Dice.
The state of Ohio is home to headquarters and outposts of 55 Fortune 1000 companies, including Facebook, which built a complex in central Ohio. Columbus, in particular, is a notable tech hub, and is home to IBM’s Watson Health (Explorys) and its North American Center for Advanced Analytics. The city also won a U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge. Tech job postings in Columbus grew 38 percent over the previous year, and tech workers earn a reported average salary of $92,017 per year, which is up 14 percent from the previous year. Salaries have risen to be almost on par with established tech hub Austin, Texas, where the average tech salary is $95,118 but the cost of living is 12 percent higher.
Columbus ranks in the top 10 cities for tech markets, top 10 for rising startup cities and it’s in one of four states that provides property tax exemption and incentives for data centers, according to data from JobsOhio. According to Dice, companies such as Accenture, JPMorgan Chase, Huntington National Bank, Careworks and IBM are all looking to hire tech and IT workers in large quantities.
Tech salaries in St. Louis have risen nearly 14 percent over the past year, despite job postings for tech dropping 6 percent. The average tech salary in St. Louis falls just under $98,000, according to data from Dice. Key employers in the area include Boeing, IBM, Wells Fargo, Edward Jones and Enterprise Rent-A-Car, all of which are seeking IT workers in large volumes to fill their ranks. Additionally, Dice notes the federal National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) announcement that it plans to build a campus in St. Louis, which will be home to 3,100 employers. St. Louis is poised as a fast growing tech hub, with salaries edging closer to major tech hubs such as San Francisco, where the cost of living is also 56 percent higher, according to data from NerdWallet.
Accenture Federal Services announced in June that the company plans to build an advanced technology center in St. Louis that will bring up to 1,400 jobs to the area in the next five years. CEO John Goodman cited the city’s “skilled talent, vibrant technology ecosystem and strong commitment to collaboration between government, civic, business, academic and community partners” as a draw to the area, according to BusinessWire.
Atlanta is home to the Atlanta Tech Village, which is a small business incubator in the Buckhead community, with 180 tenant companies in its first year. The Atlanta Tech Village is now the fourth largest tech hub in the U.S., with 300 companies as of 2018 and as of 2019, it was responsible for raising nearly $900 million in venture capital financing and had the fourth most tech job postings of any U.S. city. The average salary for tech workers in Atlanta is $94,084 per year, which is up nearly 10 percent from the previous year, according to Dice.
While Atlanta has been championing startups for years, it’s also attracted the attention of major tech companies. According to Dice, companies such as IBM, Capgemini and Cox Communications are looking to hire tech workers at a “significant volume.” The report also highlights Home Depot, which is headquartered in Atlanta and is busy hiring IT workers. The city has taken some hits, however, due to COVID-19, with Macy’s announcing the company will not be bringing its technology hub to Atlanta’s Midtown technology hub, a move that was set to bring 630 jobs to Atlanta.
Denver’s growing tech hub is known as “Silicon Mountain,” referring to the city’s Rocky Mountain skyline. The average salary for a tech worker in Denver is $102,557 per year, 6.5 percent higher than the previous year, according to Dice. That brings Denver’s average tech salary closer to tech hubs such as Seattle, where the average tech salary is $109,628 but the average cost of living is also 41 percent higher.
Tech companies such as Amazon, Netflix, Facebook and Apple all have campuses in the Denver area. In 2019 Amazon announced plans for the expansion of its Denver Tech Hub, adding 400 new high-tech jobs in fields such as cloud computing, software and hardware engineering and advertising, according to BusinessWire. Other key IT employers include Comcast, Bank of America, KPMH and Transamerica, according to Dice. Dice attributes Denver’s growth to its available space — major cities such as New York City or San Francisco are congested with tech companies and require higher prices for less square footage, but Denver gives companies enough space to grow.
Austin, Texas, has always been considered one of the major tech hubs, where the average tech salary is $95,118 per year, according to data from Dice. But Dallas-Fort Worth is emerging as another major Texas tech hub, where the average tech salary grew nearly 6 percent over the past year with tech employees earning a reported average salary of $95,002 per year. Dice notes that local tech companies such as IBM are on the lookout for software developers, network engineers and project managers and Deloitte is hiring for cybersecurity and solutions architect positions. Tech postings increased 5 percent over the past year with key employers for IT jobs, including Salesforce, Lockheed Martin, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and Goldman Sachs.
The cost of living in Dallas is 10 percent higher than in Austin and housing costs are 16 percent higher, with the average three-bedroom home selling for over $408,000 in Dallas, compared to just under $350,000 in Austin, according to NerdWallet. Nevertheless, the average cost of living is still lower compared to Seattle, where the cost of living is 44 percent higher than Dallas and the average salary is only around $10,000 higher. The tech industry in Dallas has grown rapidly since between 2006 and 2008 when Texas Instruments and AT&T moved its headquarters to the city. Since then companies such as Oracle, Cisco, Fujitsu Network Communications, HP, Microsoft and Verizon Wireless are just a handful of tech companies that have expanded to Dallas.
Silicon Valley has long been the main tech hub of California. But San Diego is becoming an appealing city for tech companies and workers due to its lower cost of living. Tech job listings grew 37 percent in the past year with an average tech salary of $109,428 per year, which grew 5 percent from last year. Amazon expanded to San Diego in 2018, adding 300 tech jobs and companies such as Northrop Grumman, Qualcomm and Booz Allen Hamilton are hiring IT workers at a rapid pace, according to Dice.
San Diego is appealing to tech workers in part because its cost of living is 40 percent lower than San Francisco, according to data from NerdWallet. In San Diego, the median home cost is just under $800,000, while it’s slightly over $1.25 million in San Francisco. For renters, you can get a two-bedroom apartment for around $2,400 in San Diego, while the same averages around $4,100 in San Francisco.