Silicon Valley is often thought of as the innovation capital of the world, but it’s not the only place where you can find and advance a career in tech.
From Durham to Denver and Atlanta to Austin, a new wave of Tech Towns are thriving in regions such as the Midwest, Rockies and Southeast. This means tech pros looking to jumpstart their careers have more variety and choice than ever—with a recent study showing that 14 states and the District of Columbia are represented in the nation’s Top 20 Tech Towns.
The tech industry growing beyond its traditional coastal hubs is particularly good news for newcomers in the workforce. High costs of living in cities like San Francisco and New York pose significant challenges for younger workers looking to save up and buy a home.
That’s why many tech pros are flocking to cities like Charlotte—the number one ranked Tech Town—where job opportunities are plentiful but the cost of living remains low. More than 44,400 tech jobs were posted in Charlotte over the last year and IT pros make a median salary of $87,755—but what’s most attractive is that the cost of living is 1.3 percent lower than the national average. Compare that to San Francisco, where cost of living is 64.2 percent higher than the national average, or Boston, where its 34.6 percent higher.
The geographic diversity of the nation’s top Tech Towns also demonstrates the positive impact the tech industry is having on regional economies. For example, in Austin – the third ranked Tech Town—the tech industry accounts for $30 billion, or 23.3 percent, of the region’s overall economy. Additionally, more than 37,000 tech jobs were posted in Austin over the last year, and that number is projected to grow 15 percent over the next five years, rivaling Silicon Valley in terms of growth.
Another factor driving geographic diversity in America’s tech hub landscape is the emergence of college towns as leading tech hot spots. Access to talent is a leading priority for tech companies, so perhaps it’s no surprise that cities like Madison, WI and Boulder, CO—with their close proximity to universities and well-educated talent—have blossomed into full-on innovation hubs.
This is all not to say that tech heavy-hitters like San Francisco and Boston aren’t excellent places to launch a career—as opportunities in these areas continues to skyrocket faster than housing costs. The bottom line is that you don’t have to move to a traditional tech hub to advance in a tech career or make a substantial salary—but you certainly can.
The only question left is: Which Tech Town is right for you?
The 2018 Tech Town Index provides insight into the depth and breadth of America’s flourishing tech ecosystem and highlights the characteristics that make each of the nation’s Top 20 Tech Towns unique. Download the full report here to make educated decisions about where to live and work based on opportunity and opportunity costs.