It’s no secret that the U.S. tech industry craves talent. With disruptive technologies set to prompt an inevitable change, a growing number of innovation-based companies look to hire experts with in-depth expertise in emerging areas of information technology (IT) like machine learning, AI, XR, and blockchain.
According to a 2020 technology survey from human resource consulting firm Robert Half, 67 percent of IT managers said they wanted to expand their teams in areas such as security, cloud computing, and business intelligence, but 89 percent reported challenges in recruiting talent. When asked to name their biggest challenges to bringing on talent, IT managers named inadequate compensation as the number one barrier.
While the unemployment rate for technology occupations in the U.S. fell to a 20-year low of 1.3 percent in 2019, demand is not exactly translating into rising salaries for technology professionals overall. According to Dice’s 2019 Salary Survey, average tech salaries increased by a mere 0.7 percent between 2017 and 2018. Given the stagnation, some 68 percent of tech professionals reported that they were interested in changing employers in order to receive higher compensation.
These findings may shed light on the fact that, like it or not, not all tech industry jobs are created equal. Those looking to earn well into the six-figure range will need to specialize in particularly “hot" or emerging areas. And as it turns out, location is a major factor to consider too.
When looking into the top-paying states for IT workers, we turned again to Dice’s 2019 Salary Survey, which polled 10,780 employed technology professionals across the U.S. Unsurprisingly, states known for massive tech hubs and leading tech companies often struggle to find all the tech talent they need—a reality reflected in the higher average salaries paid out to local IT pros.
Many of the tools we wouldn't be able to function without today—like iPhones, Twitter, and Netflix, to name a few—were born out of the decision to start a company from a garage in California. Whether it’s creating radically new technologies, business models, or pushing the envelope of innovation, “California Dreamin’" is not just a song, but a mindset that contributed $385.8 billion to California's overall economy in 2018.
Silicon Valley continues to serve as a tech powerhouse, drawing billions of dollars in investment every year. Tech icons like Apple and Google relentlessly expand, plunging into new initiatives like augmented reality and self-driving vehicles.
This, while Los Angeles evolves into a tech destination in its own right, with companies like Snapchat, Hulu, and YouTube snapping up local engineering talent from the likes of the California Institute of Technology, the University of Southern California, and the University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA).
According to a 2019 CompTIA Cyberstates report, Massachusetts has the highest concentration of tech workers at 11.3 percent. The Bay State was also among the top five states to garner nearly 85 percent of venture capital investments in 2018 by pulling in $3.5 billion in financing.
While often overlooked in favor of larger tech hubs like New York or California, Massachusetts has long cultivated an ecosystem of science and technology. In particular, the Greater Boston Area is estimated to play home to over 1,000 IT enterprises, ranging from early-stage startups to billion-dollar organizations like Hubspot, Actifio, SimpliVity. And thanks to the likes of Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and other noteworthy institutions, the state has a pipeline of tech talent to feed local firms.
Primarily known for its influential scene of bureaucrats and politicians, our nation’s capital is transforming into a hub for entrepreneurs and startups with government ties. In 2019, Mayor Muriel Bowser revived the economic-development website #ObviouslyDC for companies interested in opening in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area, citing tech, healthcare, smart cities companies, education, and cybersecurity firms as a few sectors the District hopes to attract.
According to a 2019 Robert Half report on the state of tech hiring in Washington, D.C., 73 percent of local tech businesses have plans to expand their teams this year, particularly in the areas of cybersecurity, cloud-related technology, and business intelligence. This, while institutions like Georgetown University, American University, and Howard University create a stream of IT talent for firms like Cofense, EverFi, and EdgeConneX, and for federal government roles.
Since the origins of AOL and a range of telecom companies in the 1990s, Northern Virginia has stood as a nexus for many software security firms, SaaS enterprises, and consumer tech companies. But those aren’t the only markets keeping Virginia’s place as a key player in the world’s technology economy. Loudoun County’s “Data Center Alley" is the world’s largest concentration of data centers, with more than 3,400 technology companies and nearly 13.5 million square feet of technology office space currently in operation.
In 2018, Amazon gave news of its $2.5 billion plan to launch the company’s HQ2 headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. The move added to the region’s ongoing influx of growth from local startups, suppliers and tech companies in areas of specific interest to Amazon, including software development, cybersecurity, machine learning, and autonomous systems. The result? Job opportunities abound—and high-paying ones at that.
According to CompTIA’s 2019 Cyberstates report, there are approximately 377,809 people working in technology-related jobs in the state of Washington. Nearly 90 percent of those jobs are located in King County, which includes Seattle and neighboring cities like Redmond and Bellevue.
Many software engineers, developers, and data scientists find employment for local tech giants Amazon and Microsoft and at the satellite offices of Silicon Valley-based companies like Alphabet and Facebook. As the movement of people and companies from Silicon Valley to Seattle has been going on for years, the same phenomenon is now playing out between Seattle and Spokane, a mid-sized city in a rural part of the state.
While New Jersey and innovation are two words you might not think to group together, they’ve become synonymous—and rightfully so. The lent Thomas Edison his nickname as the "Wizard of Menlo Park," and is the birthplace of the transistor, band-aid and motion picture camera. New Jersey is also home to nine-time Nobel Prize winner Nokia Bell Labs, an industrial research and scientific development company behind the next generation of internet technology.
This rich history planted the seeds for innovative industries across biotech, telecommunications, and IT to help grow New Jersey’s place as a burgeoning tech hub. The state is home to 337,900 workers tech workers comprising 7.8 percent of the state’s total workforce, one of the most concentrated high-tech industry clusters in the U.S.
From military technology and supercomputers to current household names in computers and technology, Minnesota has long been at the epicenter of the high-tech computing industry. To date, the state is one of the largest and fastest-growing tech regions in the country, especially in the finance industry, with a 52 percent growth in credit intermediation-based tech jobs over the last five years.
Many niche-specific startups now operate in the Twin Cities, backed by local Fortune 500 companies like Ecolab, Securian Financial Group, and U.S. Bancorp looking to capture both local and transplant talent. With that, the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities is doubling down on its efforts to commercialize promising technologies developed by school researchers—all as a host of tech startups help the state lead the Midwest in terms of venture capital funding.
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