The U.S. technology industry saw breakthrough growth across the board in 2015. Established forces like mobility, big data and cloud computing accounted for a notable portion of these gains, along with emerging trends such as Internet of Things (IoT). This powerful combination of new and maturing technologies is injecting new life into the realms of hardware, software, business intelligence and security alike. Overall, the industry added 200,000 jobs last year, a 3 percent year-over-year increase from 2014 and the highest rate in more than a decade, according to CompTIA’s Cyberstates 2016 report. (Disclosure: I am employed by CompTIA.)
In the wake of this growth, tech hubs have appeared in almost every state, but some stand out from their peers for exceptional employment and wage increases. Technology stalwarts like California, New York and Massachusetts round out the best spots to kick start an IT career, but states like Florida and Texas also make a strong showing among the nation’s leading IT hubs. For workers looking to gain a foothold in the IT industry, there’s no better time to get involved and find a niche.
Local technology leaders
The technology industry represents a bedrock of the U.S. economy. It currently encompasses more than seven percent of GDP and 11.6 percent of private sector payroll. IT workers are also well compensated, with the average employee earning $105,400 compared to $51,600 for their peers outside the industry. Though IT career opportunities can be found nationwide, some states have fostered exceptional growth in both IT employment and earnings:
- California: The West Coast has long held a reputation as the center of the IT world, and with good reason. Between 2014 and 2015, California added nearly 59,500 technology jobs – the most of any state in the nation. The state’s tech payroll dwarfs its nearest competitors, reaching a towering sum totaling more than $171 billion. At the same time, California is home to more than 50,000 technology establishments, making up 8.2 percent of the state’s entire private sector workforce.
- New York: On the opposite side of the country, New York represents a rapidly rising technology hub. In the past year, the state added 15,500 technology positions at an average wage of $109,200. The state’s technology industry employers spend more than $40 billion on payroll annually, a notable portion of which goes to he computer systems design sector – which saw the greatest gains from 2014 to 2015. Cumulatively, New York employs 369,500 IT industry professionals across 24,000 organizations.
- Texas: Texas represents the foundation of the southern tech corridor, as the state is home to more than 585,000 technology workers across 34,100 businesses. The state’s tech community continues to enjoy rapid growth, adding 13,800 IT positions within the last year. Tech employers in Texas spend more than $58 billion on payroll annually, with IT employees earning nearly double the state’s average earnings at $99,700 annually. Texas leads the country with respect to employment in a variety of sectors, including telecommunications, computer and software wholesaling and electronic repair.
- Massachusetts: The Bay State maintains its standing as both a national and regional leader in the IT sector, employing 294,600 workers, an increase of 11,700 in the past year. Massachusetts also enjoys high wages, with IT workers taking home an average of $127,900 annually, totaling more than $37.6 billion across the industry. The state boasts the highest concentration of tech workers in the country, with 9.8 percent of all jobs in the state falling within the IT industry. Many tech jobs within Massachusetts fall within the scope of R&D and testing, bolstered by the concentration of universities and biotech firms in the state.
- Florida: Florida represents another growing tech hub, with the private sector adding 11,400 IT positions over the past year, amounting to nearly 312,000 employees. The state’s tech sector consists of 5.6 percent of Florida’s private sector occupations, with job openings increasing by 23.5 percent in the past year. Florida is also the top state in the country for careers in the computer training niche. Tech sector employees earn $82,600 on average, with employers recording more than $25.7 billion in payroll expenses annually.
Finding a home in IT
The technology industry is broader than it has ever been, as its intersections with other verticals expand and redefine what it means to work in IT. As the industry continues to post impressive annual growth and salaries well above both national and regional averages, there’s never been a better time to get your feet wet in the industry. New and established tech hubs are providing opportunities for industry veterans and newcomers alike, and IT workers stand to benefit from growing demand in a range of skills. From IoT expertise to mobility and cloud experience, it’s a job seeker’s market for passionate employees looking to make their mark on this thriving industry.