Where to Next? Tech Towns for Recent IT Grads

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This spring, new IT grads are preparing to accept their diplomas and start their professional lives. A career in tech opens the doors to fulfilling and challenging professional options nearly anywhere in the world, though some cities are better equipped for new grads than others. CompTIA's Tech Town Index drills down the latest info about job markets, cost of living and viability for IT professionals. Here, we look at a few that are especially encouraging to recent IT grads. 

Charlotte, North Carolina (#1 Tech Town)

The combination of nearby top universities, low cost of living and a high media wage for IT jobs, topped with the folksy dose of Southern charm, it’s no surprise to see Charlotte at the top of the Tech Towns list.

05659 AITP Tech Towns_1 Charlotte, North Carolina

Tech Talent Tip: In a word: options! According to the Tech Towns report, “Over the past 12 months, the area saw more than 44,000 IT jobs posted, and that number is likely to continue rising with a projected 11% growth in tech jobs over the next 5 years.” One of the biggest factors is the financial sector, with Charlotte as a major banking center (only behind NYC in the US), and those heavy-hitters, like Wells Fargo. Bank of America, Ally Financial and TIAA-CREF, are always looking for top tech talent at every level.

Bonus: Within 150 miles of Charlotte are two other top contenders for recent tech grads: Raleigh (#2 on the Tech Towns list) and Durham-Chapel Hill (#15). Each city has its own charms: As North Carolina's capital city, Raleigh is melting pot of opportunity, led by a governor who wants to position Raleigh as a start-up incubator. Durham is enjoying a renaissance, having recently been listed as one of the best cities for Millennials, thanks to explosive nightlife, entertainment and accessibility.

Seattle, Washington (#7 Tech Town) 

With massive corporations like Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon calling this port city home, you know Seattle is a place that understands global connections and economies. But it’s also known for its quirky, authentic, low-key vibe. Yes, it’s rainy, but Seattleites know how to make the most of it—amazing museums, world-class dining and entertainment, nightlife and culture.

05659 AITP Tech Towns_7 Seattle, WA

Tech Talent Tip: Seattle shows no signs of slowing down with an expected growth in IT jobs of 11% in the next five years and a $109,741 median salary for IT pros. Tech companies are always looking for the next Silicon Valley (or valleys) and Seattle is nicely situated to be a major contender.

Bonus: It is on the pricier side for housing and cost of living, but the picturesque location—close to mountains, the ocean and forests—is a holy grail for outdoorsy types. Seattle is also ranked seventh in healthiest cities, and seeks to help people find a well-rounded work-life balance.

Denver, Colorado (#8 Tech Town)

If it feels like every other person you know is moving to Denver, you’re probably right. Denver is definitely having a moment right now, bolstered by the progressive laws and the economy boom that followed. The Mile High City also boasts an international airport, and serves as a hub for agriculture, tech, and energy-based businesses. Denver famously boasts 300 days of sunshine, which encourages Denver’s active, nature-loving personality. 

05659 AITP Tech Towns_8 Denver, Colorado (1)

Tech Talent Tip: The tech industry is broad and thriving in Denver, with major companies like Chipotle, Deloitte, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Charter Communications claiming it home. Between August 2017 and July 2018, Denver posted 50,897 IT jobs, meaning that there’s plenty of options for opportunity.

Bonus: If Denver is too cosmopolitan for you, nearby Boulder and Colorado Springs have the same perks—great weather, access to outdoor lifestyle, interesting cuisine and culture options. Boulder is a college town, with its own laid-back, bohemian vibe, and Colorado Springs is like a small hometown, with family-friendly amenities, like affordable housing and good public schools. 

Madison, WI (#14 Tech Town)

If you think Wisconsin is simply brats, beer and football, you are missing out. Straddling a thin isthmus across two lakes, this scenic little big city has a suburban feel with big-city attractions. 

05659 AITP Tech Towns_14 Madison, Wisconsin (1)

Tech Talent Tip: New grads can find a graduated version of their own college experience with more real-world applications. Young professionals will find a bucolic place to put down roots with long-lasting corporations, like Alliant Energy, the University of Wisconsin and several healthcare companies. The promise of growth, with 11,059 IT job postings in one year, presents nearly limitless opportunities for new tech grads to land a long-term job.

Bonus: You don’t have to be a Badger superfan to fit in around Madison. As capital city and home to a top-tier university, Madison cultivates not just college students, but also academics, politicos, civic-minded and forward-thinking residents, in the heart of the friendly Midwest.

Trenton, New Jersey (#18 Tech Town) 

Historic and modern, Trenton has been climbing the rankings in recent years because it encompasses the best of both worlds: close proximity to major urban epicenters (New York City, Philadelphia, Brooklyn) but with real-world affordability and opportunity.

05659 AITP Tech Towns_18 Trenton, New Jersey

Tech Talent Tip: For new grads who have student loans to worry about, Trenton offers the big-city glam without emptying your bank account. The cost of living is higher than the national average, but significantly less expensive than nearby New York City, Boston, and Baltimore. Because it’s competing with such places, Trenton is in need of qualified IT professionals, and with Trenton tech talent making a healthy median income of $91,104, opportunities abound.

Bonus: For recent grads or career-changers, location is everything. 40 miles north of Philadelphia, 60 miles south of NYC, and plenty of options in-between, Trenton residents can be part of the scene at a fraction of the cost.

Want more Tech Towns? Find out the top 20 cities for IT pros to live and work in the full report.

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