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Image shows tech workers having a conversation while looking at a screen. SmartAsset analyzed data to identify the best places for tech workers in this study.

Over the past several years new tech hubs have emerged across the U.S., with hotspots such as San Francisco and New York City losing some ground. The COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated this trend. According to LinkedIn data compiled by Axios, many more workers in the software and IT services sectors left the greater metro areas of those two cities between March 2020 and February 2021 than during the previous year.

With the tech workforce expected to make more shifts such as those outlined above, SmartAsset took a closer look at the best places to work in tech for 2021. We compared 50 of the largest metro areas across five metrics: the percentage of workers employed in tech, average salary for tech workers, ratio of average tech salary to average salary across all fields, percentage of current bachelor’s jobs listed that are in tech and cost of living. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s second annual study on the best places to work in tech. Check out the 2020 version of the study here.

Key Findings

  • No Northeast metro areas rank in the top half of our study. Like last year, Northeast metro areas fall behind. The top-ranking Northeast metro area is Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pennsylvania, which includes parts of New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland and ranks 29th overall. Four other metro areas in the same region rank in our bottom 10. With a high cost of living and low percentage of bachelor’s jobs currently listed in tech, the lowest-ranking Northeast area is the New York City metro area.
  • Tech workers make up more than 5% of the workforce in eight large metro areas. Nationally, workers in computer and mathematical occupations make up just 3.3% of the total workforce, according to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data. However, in eight areas, more than one in 20 workers is part of the tech industry. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California and Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington have the largest current tech workforces as a percentage of all occupations, with about 13% and 9% of workers, respectively, employed in tech.

Image is a map by SmartAsset titled "Top 11 Places to Work in Tech: 2021 Edition."

1. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

The average salary for tech workers in Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida is about $95,400, the 17th-highest in our study. Orlando metro area tech workers earn significantly more than other workers there. The ratio between the average salary for tech workers and the average salary for all workers in the area is highest in the study overall, at 1.84. There are also many job openings in tech, with recent Indeed data showing that almost 23% of bachelor’s jobs in the area are currently listed in the industry.

2. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington has the second-largest tech workforce across all 50 metro areas. According to BLS data, almost 9% of the workforce is employed in computer or mathematical occupations. The Seattle metro area also ranks in the top fifth of metro areas for three other study metrics. It has the third-highest average salary for tech workers ($127,760), the sixth-highest ratio between the average salary for tech workers to average salary for all workers (1.72) and the 10th-highest percentage of bachelor’s jobs currently listed that are in tech (19.09%).

3. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas ranks in the top 40% of our study for four of the five metrics we considered. Tech workers earn about $97,500 on average (12th-highest) and the ratio between the average salary for tech workers and average salary for all workers in the area is 1.74 (fifth-highest). Additionally, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington has the 11th-highest percentage of its workforce currently working in tech (4.66%) and the fourth-highest percentage of bachelor’s jobs listed that are in tech (16.21%).

4. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

The San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas metro area ranks second-best for the ratio between the average salary for tech workers and the average salary for all workers (1.78) along with the percentage of bachelor’s jobs currently listed that are in tech (almost 19%). Additionally, it has the 15th-lowest estimated annual cost of living. According to data from the MIT Living Wage Calculator, a single adult needs about $24,100 per year to cover food, housing, medical costs, transportation and other required expenses.

5. Columbus, OH

Columbus, Ohio ranks in the top 40% of metro areas for three metrics. It has the 12th-lowest estimated annual cost of living ($23,970), the 14th-highest ratio between the average salary for tech workers and the average salary for all workers (1.65) and the 16th-highest percentage of workers employed in tech (4.30%). The area falls a bit behind when it comes to current job listings. Less than 15% of bachelor’s jobs currently listed on Indeed are for computer and mathematical occupations.

6. Richmond, VA

The average salary for tech workers in the Richmond, Virginia metro area is almost $95,000, which is about 71% higher than the average salary for all workers in the metro area ($55,630). Compared to other metro areas, this is the 18th-highest average tech salary and the ninth-highest ratio of average salary for tech workers to average salary for all workers. Richmond also has the 19th-highest percentage of job listings requiring a bachelor’s degree that are in tech, at about 16%.

7. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado is one of the eight metro areas in the study overall with a tech workforce greater than 5%. According to BLS data, almost 6% of workers are employed in computer and mathematical occupations. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood also ranks in the top fifth metro areas when it comes to tech salary. The average salary for tech workers is about $102,500, the eighth-highest in our study.

8. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

The Cincinnati metro area has the lowest estimated annual cost of living out of any metro area in our study, at about $22,600. Additionally, tech workers earn 64% more than the average worker in the area. Finally, about 16% of bachelor’s jobs currently listed are in tech, the 23rd-highest rate among all 50 metro areas we considered.

9. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI (tie)

Almost 5% of the workforce in the Minneapolis metro area works in the tech industry. The metro area ranks in the top third of the study for two additional metrics: average salary for tech workers (more than $96,500) and percentage of bachelor’s jobs currently listed that are in tech (about 18%). Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington ranks lowest in the top 11 (39th in the study overall) for the ratio of average salary for tech workers to average salary for all workers (1.54).

9. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD (tie)

The average salary for tech workers in the Baltimore metro area is second-highest in our top 11 and sixth-highest overall, at about $106,000. This metro area also ranks in the top fifth metro areas for two other metrics: percentage of workers employed in tech (5.48%) and ratio of average salary for tech workers to average salary for all workers (1.70).

9. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ (tie)

The Phoenix metro area ties with the Minneapolis and Baltimore metro areas as the No. 9 place to work in tech. Though the Phoenix metro area ranks in the bottom half of metro areas for its average salary for tech workers and cost of living, the tech scene is on the rise. Recent Indeed data shows that almost 21% of job listings requiring a bachelor’s degree are in tech. Additionally, in 2020, almost 4% of workers were part of the industry.

Image is a table by SmartAsset titled "Best Places to Work in Tech: 2021 Edition."

Data and Methodology

To rank the best places to work in tech, we considered 50 metro areas with a population of one million or more. We compared them across five metrics:

  • Percentage of workers employed in tech. Tech workers include those in computer and mathematical occupations. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is for May 2020.
  • Average salary for tech workers. This is the mean annual salary for workers in computer and mathematical occupations. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is for May 2020.
  • Ratio of average salary for tech workers to average salary for all workers. A higher ratio means that the average tech worker earns more than the average worker. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is for May 2020.
  • Percentage of bachelor’s jobs currently listed that are in tech. Data comes from Indeed and is for June 2021.
  • Cost of living. This is the income needed for a single adult to cover five main annual expenses: food, medical, housing, transportation and other. Data comes from the MIT Living Wage Calculator and is for June 2021.

First, we ranked each metro area in every metric, weighting all metrics equally. Then we found each area’s average ranking and used the average to determine a final score. The metro area with the best average ranking received a score of 100. The metro area with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.

Moving for Work?

  • Think carefully about whether you want to buy or rent. Even if you have the savings to buy a first home, be sure the switch makes sense. If you are coming to a city and plan to stay for the long haul, buying may be the better option for you. Additionally, a home may offer more space for people who do regularly work from home. However, if your stop in a new city will be a short one, renting may make the most sense. SmartAsset’s rent vs. buy calculator can help you see the cost differential between purchasing a home or apartment and renting.
  • For career changes and residency changes alike, always seek out trusted financial advice. No matter where you live, a financial advisor can help you get your financial life in order. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with advisors that may be able to help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact us at press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/PeopleImages

Stephanie Horan, CEPF® Stephanie Horan is a data journalist at SmartAsset. A Certified Educator of Personal Finance (CEPF®), she sources and analyzes data to write studies relating to a variety of topics including mortgage, retirement and budgeting. Before coming to SmartAsset, she worked as an analyst at an asset management firm. Stephanie graduated from Williams College with a degree in Mathematics. Originally from Philadelphia, she has always been a Yankees fan and currently lives in New York.
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