The Best American Cities to Work in Tech in 2017 (Derek Miller)
August 15, 2017

You probably picture San Jose or San Francisco when you picture tech cities. But with the cost of living in the Bay Area sky rocketing, the generous benefits tech workers receive may no longer feel like a lot. The good news is that tech jobs are booming in places across the country where costs of living are lower but the wages are still high. For the fourth year in a row, SmartAsset looked at these and other factors to find the best cities to work in tech.

In order to find the best cities to work in tech, we looked at data on five different factors. We considered the percent of workers employed in tech, the ratio of the average tech salary to the average salary across all fields, the cost of living, the unemployment rate and average salary for tech workers. Check out our data and methodology section below to see where we got our data and how we put it together.

This is SmartAsset’s fourth annual study of the best cities to work in tech. Check out the 2016 work in tech study here.

Key Findings

Tech in the South – Six of our top 10 American cities to work in tech are in the South. Tech workers in the South tend to be paid much higher than their non-tech counterparts and the cost of living in the region tends to be low, making it a great place to be a tech worker.

High tech Texas – Texas dominates the top section of our rankings with five cities in the top 15. While each Texas city has different reasons for ranking, one common theme is how much higher tech workers in Texas are paid compared to the average worker.

1. Columbus, Ohio

The capital of Ohio is the best place in the country for tech workers. Columbus climbed our ranks thanks to solid scores across the board, without any single metric scoring in the top 10. Columbus’ best score came in the ratio of the average tech wage to the average wage across all fields. In that metric, the city ranked 12th. On average tech workers are paid 1.82 times more than the average worker across all fields.

The city also benefits from being home to one of the largest schools in the county, Ohio State University, which supplies fresh-faced tech workers for local tech businesses. In fact Columbus is one of the best cities for new college grads. The only metric Columbus tech workers may be concerned about is the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate for holders of bachelor’s degrees is 2.9%, the fifth-highest in the top 10.

2. Springfield, Illinois

Another state capital, Springfield, Illinois, takes second place. Springfield has the eighth-lowest unemployment rate for workers with a bachelor’s degree (1.6%). Springfield tech workers are also well paid. They earn an average of $83,500 per year, which is 69% more than the average salary in the city.

While there are places where tech workers earn more, Springfield combines a high average pay with a low cost of living. The cost of living in Springfield is about 11% less than the national average meaning that $83,500 stretches farther in Springfield than some other places in the country. But readers should keep in mind that Illinois also has some of the highest income taxes in the nation, off-setting some of that low cost of living.

3. Sierra Vista, Arizona

Sierra Vista has the highest cost of living of any city in our top 10. So, what makes it so good for tech workers? First of all, Sierra Vista is something of a tech hub with 5.4% of workers employed in the field. Only 12 other cities in our study have a higher concentration of tech workers in their city. Secondly, working in tech in Sierra Vista is a high paying gig, which offsets the slightly high cost of living. On average tech workers in Sierra Vista make $81,400 per year. That’s 74% higher than the citywide average earnings.

4. Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh (along with Durham and Chapel Hill) is home to one of the largest research parks in the world: Research Triangle Park. Within this research park are campuses for some of the largest tech companies in the country, like IBM and Cisco Systems. The research park is in Raleigh because of the proximity to high-quality research institutions like Duke University, University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University.

All those tech jobs in the area mean Raleigh is a great place to work in tech. About 5.8% of all workers in the city work in tech, the 11th-highest rate in the country. Another plus for tech workers is the pay. On average tech workers earn just over $89,000 per year, the second-highest amount in our top 10. However, that paycheck does not go quite as far in Raleigh as it may in other cities. Raleigh has a cost of living only 6% lower than the national average, a relatively high score for our top 10.

5. Dallas, Texas

Dallas rose nine spots from last year’s study to claim the fifth spot. The city owes its rise in our ranks to its improving unemployment rate for bachelor’s degree holders and the increased salary tech workers earn. Last year our data showed that bachelor’s degree holders had an unemployment rate of 4.1%. That number fell to 3.3% in this year’s study. Compared to last year, tech workers also earn $4,000 more per year on average.

Dallas’ best scores came in the aforementioned tech salary metric. Dallas tech workers are the 21st-highest paid in the country. This city also has a large concentration of tech workers. About 5.8% of workers in Dallas work in tech, the 15th-highest rate in the country.

6. Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville is the tech capital of Alabama. Over 6.1% of workers in Huntsville work in tech, a score only surpassed by one city in our top 25. Huntsville tech workers are also well compensated for their work, especially when you compare the salary to the low cost of living. The cost of living in Huntsville is about 8% less than the national average while the average tech worker earns just under $93,000 per year. Another plus for Huntsville workers is the relatively low taxes in Alabama, meaning workers keep a large chunk of what they earn.

What keeps Huntsville from scoring higher in our ranks in the unemployment rate for bachelor’s degree holders. About 3.6% of graduates with bachelor’s degrees are unemployed, the 126th-worst rate in the study.

7. Richmond, Virginia

Richmond jumped 11 spots from last year. Tech workers in Richmond saw their median incomes rise $3,000 from last year, which lifted the city up the rankings. Other metrics improved, too. Like the unemployment rate for bachelor’s degree holders, which dropped from 3.9% to 3.1%.

Richmond’s strongest metrics were related to tech pay. This city ranked 34th for average tech salary ($86,620) and 20th in the ratio of the average tech salary to the average salary across all fields (1.77).

8. Wichita Falls, Texas

Wichita Falls is a city northwest of Dallas, right next to the Oklahoma border, with a population around 100,000. Of the people who work in Wichita Falls, not too many work in tech (only about 1.39%), but the ones who do are well paid. The average tech worker in Wichita Falls earns 1.93 times the overall average salary in Wichita. That is the fourth-highest score in that metric in our study.

The cost of living is also low in Wichita Falls. Our data shows that living there costs 15.5% less than the national average, giving the city the 12th-lowest cost of living in the country.

9. San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio is the third and final Texas city to crack our top 10. Like much of the rest of Texas, living in San Antonio won’t require you to break the bank. The cost of living in San Antonio is 14% less than the national average. Tech workers in San Antonio also earn quite a lot. The average salary is $85,760. That’s the 40th-highest average salary for tech workers in the country.

The big downside for San Antonio workers is that jobs may be relatively hard to find. Our data shows that San Antonio has an unemployment rate of 3.9% for holders of bachelor’s degrees.

10. Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines dropped two spots from last year but managed to stay in the top 10. The city scores fairly well in all metrics, without any single metric leading the way. Des Moines’ best score comes in percent of workers employed in tech (3.7%). The city’s worst score came in the ratio of the average tech salary to the average salary across all fields. The average tech worker only earns 65% more than the average worker.

Wichita Falls Named Best Cities To Live In On A $100,000 Salary

These Are the Best (and Worst) Cities to Live in on a $100,000 Salary (Nicolas Rapp, Anne VanderMey)
Jul 27, 2017

Wealth is relative: In some rural American locales, a six-figure paycheck can purchase a lavish lifestyle. In others, it doesn’t cover expenses.

Comparison loan-shopping site MagnifyMoney looked at the cost of living in 381 U.S. metropolitan areas to see where a $100,000 income for a family of three would leave the household with the most leftover cash. They found that in Johnson City, Tenn., routine expenses would eat up only 62% of that income. A family in D.C., however, would spend 105% on just the basics.

The three metro areas to live if you want to stretch a paycheck the farthest were all in Tennessee—Johnson City, followed by Morristown (where 62% of annual income would go to expenses), and then Cleveland (63%).

By contrast, the places where you could make $100,000 and still go broke were mostly coastal. After D.C. came the hedge fund-heavy area surrounding Bridgeport Connecticut (where 102% of income would vanish), followed by the San Jose (99%), the San Francisco (96%), and New York (96%) areas.

For more on cost of living in American cities, explore the interactive map below. We’ve mapped MagnifyMoney’s list of the best and worst cities to live in with a $100,000 salary: Click here for map.

Analysis of two-earner household with one child and a gross annual income of $100,000 in U.S. Metro areas. Estimated monthly expenses (includes childcare, transportation, food, housing, student loans, savings, and entertainment) were subtracted from after-tax income.

Data source: MagnifyMoney

The Career Education Center makes its debut

Times Record News (senior editor/reporter Lana Sweeten-Shults)

Slightly egg-shaped chairs.

Green accent walls.

A “learning stair.”

Twenty-six cosmetology stations.

A glowing audio-visual room with green curtain.

Concrete pads on which to build a house.

A robotics and engineering area.

A medical microbiology course.

One thing’s for sure.

The Wichita Falls ISD’s new $28 million Career Education Center, which made its official debut with a ribbon cutting Tuesday morning, isn’t your grandma’s high school — or mom or dad’s high school, for that matter.

This is a career-minded facility with its finger on the pulse of emerging, oftentimes high-tech careers.

A few hundred attendees got their first peek at the 123,000-square-feet facility at 500 E. Hatton Road, thanks to an almost $60 million bond passed by voters in May 2015.

Roughly 1,300 students and more than 23 teachers will roam the new facility’s hallways after school starts Aug. 17, taking courses from among the 26 career pathways that will be offered by the school.

“For students today, it’s more of an experience instead of students sitting in rows. We don’t like that,” said Superintendent Michael Kuhrt at the ribbon cutting, also attended by leaders from such organizations as Vernon College and the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce & Industry, among others in the business and education community.

Kuhrt said the new facility “instills hope.”

“We made it. We’re here today. … This project is on time and under budget.”

Henry Florsheim, president and CEO of the Chamber, said when he arrived in Wichita Falls several years ago, there was no relationship between the Wichita Falls ISD and the Chamber.

“All of a sudden, we began sticking our nose in education. … Before we co-existed; now we’re allies.”

He added how important this new facility is to developing a strong workforce: “If you cannot provide a workforce they (businesses) need, they’re not coming (to Wichita Falls). … I heard this is the first high school that has been built in 50 years. Well, it’s about time.”

Following the ribbon cutting, attendees toured the two-story, T-shaped building, whose construction was under the helm of Trinity Hughes/Sundt.

“We probably are the best (welding) facility in the state of Texas right now,” said welding instructor Gary Cunningham, who cut the ribbon with a blowtorch to open the CEC. “ … They have allowed us to have a wonderful facility. We actually certify kids when they come out. … They have the opportunity to walk out of here with a (welding) certificate.”

Cunningham said the welding shop is going through the process of receiving a certification from the Canadian Welding Bureau, a rare feat, he said, since the shop would be one of three he knows of to receive such a certification once the process is completed.

Career Education Center Principal Synthia Kirby said, “One of my biggest concerns all over Carrigan was the exhaust. … We have taken care of that problem. We have good space.”

The district’s new CEC takes over where the previous career center, Carrigan, left off. Carrigan had become an inadequate space for the district’s needs, particularly in the face of House Bill 5, which has changed graduation requirements. Students now have to choose one of five “endorsements,” or career paths. Carrigan housed five of the district’s career programs: collision repair, construction, cosmetology, electronics and welding. Hirschi, Rider and Wichita Falls high schools also have been home to some career-oriented classes.

David Boller, who teaches auto collision repair, was amazed at the difference between the new and old career centers.

“We’ve been using the same equipment at Carrigan since the facility opened. … Now we have the best (equipment) in the industry … compared to equipment before that was 30 years old,” he said.

One of the areas of the school Kirby touted was the architecture and construction areas, which are across the hall from each other.

“Their goal is to build a house and sell it. … We’re hoping to build a home every other year.”

She said the idea is for architecture students to design the houses and the construction team will build it.

“The thing we love about this (house-building) project is … there are so many different areas here (from architecture to construction to electrical) that’s going to tie into that.”

Another neat aspect of the CEC, said Kirby, is that the community can walk in and pay to get their hair or nails done in the cosmetology area or get their bumper repaired in the collision repair shop. Community members will walk into a reception space, just like they would at a salon or auto shop.

“We’re going to be building projects — build trailers … from deer feeders to deer blinds,” said ag teacher Stephen Davis.

“We’re open for business. We have customers. … They’ve made deer feeders, deer blinds,” Kirby said.

Students can also take culinary classes in a modern, industrial kitchen complete with stainless steel appliances. It’s where they’ll start their culinary path by getting their food handler’s license. There’s the audio-production area, graphics design lab and medical microbiology, too.

“We’re going to talk about parasites and bacteria,” said medical microbiology teacher Sabrina Bradley.

“I’m pumped up for this class. I can’t wait,” said Wichita Falls High School junior Aubrie Kuhrt, who will be working on her EMT certification with sister Emma.

Said Career and Technical Education Coordinator Michelle Wood, “Our goal for this community and this building is to let kids find passions and desires and things they never knew they always wanted.”

Follow Times Record News senior editor/reporter Lana Sweeten-Shults on Twitter @LanaSweetenShul.