If you’re looking for a career in one of the STEM occupations – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – you may think you need to move to Silicon Valley. But a recent GOBankingRates study found that there are high-paying tech jobs all over the country if you know where to look.
We identified the 20 best cities in the U.S. ranked by the highest percentages of STEM jobs that pay over $80,000 per year, along with the average annual salary for those jobs. So check out these areas if you’re looking for a high-paying job in tech.
Data is accurate as of April 19, 2019, and is subject to change.
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $106,489
STEM professionals feel the love in Philadelphia, also known as the City of Brotherly Love. In the greater Philadelphia area, 5.62% of occupations are STEM jobs paying over $80,000 a year. Large employers in the area with high-paying jobs include universities and teaching hospitals, such as the University of Pennsylvania Health System, the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the Temple University Health System. Comcast, the cable TV provider, is also a large employer in the area.
19. Hartford, Connecticut
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $99,737
In the Hartford area, 6.26% of positions are STEM jobs with salaries of $80,000 per year or more. Major employers in the Hartford area include tech giant United Technologies, health insurers Aetna and Cigna, telecom behemoth Charter Communications and financial services companies like The Hartford and Synchrony Financial.
18. Trenton, New Jersey
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $108,898
Trenton, New Jersey, may not be the first place you think of when you think of tech jobs, but maybe it should be. Of total jobs in the area, 6.3% are STEM jobs with salaries of $80,000 per year or more. The Trenton area is home to Rutgers University, a major research university, and pharmaceutical megacorporation Johnson & Johnson.
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $102,503
Minneapolis has many large employers that have positions in the STEM fields. These include the Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota, UnitedHealth Group, 3M Co. and U.S. Bancorp. In the greater Minneapolis area, 6.37% of jobs are STEM positions that pay $80,000 a year or more.
16. Portland, Oregon
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $97,664
Tech companies have found their way to the Pacific Northwest, and have brought employment opportunities to Portland, Oregon, to the point where it’s sometimes referred to as the “Silicon Forest.” In fact, 6.4% of jobs in Portland are in STEM fields and pay $80,000 or more per year. Technology companies that have operations in Portland include Google, Intel, Oracle, eBay, Airbnb, Salesforce and many others.
15. Madison, Wisconsin
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $96,035
In Madison, Wisconsin, high-tech companies have found available, affordable land to build large plants. These companies include Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics producer, which opened a manufacturing facility; Bluehole, a Korean gaming company, which opened its first U.S. gaming studio in Madison; and Epic Systems, a medical records technology company that is the area’s largest private-sector employer. The total number of STEM jobs in Madison that pay $80,000 or more per year is 25,200, or 6.43% of the total, although the average salary is the lowest among these 20 cities.
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $105,514
Like many areas with a high concentration of STEM jobs, Baltimore is home to large teaching and research hospitals, including Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland. Other medical companies in the area include MedStar Health, Lifebridge Health and the Kennedy Krieger Institute, which provides health services for children with disabilities. In all, 6.77% of jobs in the Baltimore area are STEM jobs with salaries of $80,000 or more.
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- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $107,669
The greater Denver area boasts 105,800 STEM jobs that have salaries of at least $80,000, or 7.16% of all jobs. Centura Health, HealthOne Corporation, SCL Health System, Comcast Corporation, Denver Health, Children’s Hospital Colorado and Kaiser Permanente are large STEM employers in the Denver area.
11. Detroit (tie)
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $98,972
With the amount of technology most cars include these days, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see that Detroit has a high concentration of STEM jobs. But not all of the 142,000 STEM jobs in the greater Detroit area are at automotive companies. Ambassador, a referral marketing software company, was founded in Detroit. Rocket Fiber, a high-speed internet provider; technology training institute Grand Circus; and app developer Detroit Labs all call the Motor City home.
11. Palm Bay, Florida (tie)
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $104,174
Palm Bay, Florida, ties with Detroit with 7.2% of occupations that are STEM jobs paying $80,000 or more per year, which may surprise you. But the area is home to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base. This brings in companies like URS Corporation, Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Northrop Grumman Corp., all of whom need STEM workers. Because it is, in fact, rocket science.
10. San Diego
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $110,044
The San Diego area is home to over 1,200 life sciences companies and 80 research institutes, making it a hotbed for STEM careers. The Scripps Research Institute, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer all have STEM jobs available. In all, there are 105,560 STEM jobs in greater San Diego with salaries of at least $80,000.
9. Austin, Texas
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $109,006
STEM jobs in Austin with salaries over $80,000 make up 7.85% of the total, or 80,760. Dell, 3M Co., Apple, Google, AMD, Blizzard Entertainment, Cisco Systems, Samsung Group, Oracle Corporation and Hewlett-Packard are just some of the companies with operations in Austin, which has led to the city being dubbed the “Silicon Hills.”
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8. Raleigh, North Carolina
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $99,773
Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, North Carolina, has long been a hotbed of technology and remains so to this day. Duke University and Health System, North Carolina State University, IBM Corporation, WakeMed Health 7 Hospitals, Cisco System, SAS Institute and other healthcare, technology and financial services companies combine to make STEM jobs 7.9% of all occupations in the area.
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $108,180
Boston has long been a technology hub, but many of the largest STEM employers aren’t tech companies at all. The city is home to large hospitals, such as Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital. Universities like MIT and Harvard provide STEM jobs, as do Dell EMC, Thermo Fisher and Boston Scientific. In Boston, 9% of occupations are STEM jobs that pay over $80,000 annually.
6. Durham, North Carolina
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $107,735
Located close to Raleigh, another STEM hub, companies in Durham, North Carolina, have plenty of STEM opportunities – 9.37% of all opportunities, in fact. Companies and organizations like Research Triangle Institute, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina, Fidelity Investments, IBM and GlaxoSmithKline have many STEM careers.
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $107,090
Seattle has long been a mecca for tech, and the spillover from Silicon Valley has only added to its popularity. The city has 9.64% of job opportunities that are STEM positions paying over $80,000 per year. Large employers include Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon and Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
4. Washington, D.C.
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $111,710
The nation’s capital has the highest average annual salary for STEM jobs that pay over $80,000 per year, and these jobs make up 10.38% of opportunities, or 325,250 total jobs. The federal government hires for many STEM positions, but other large employers include Lockheed Martin, Verizon Communications, MedStar Health and Comcast.
3. Boulder, Colorado
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $111,033
Average salaries in Boulder for STEM jobs are the second highest, right behind Washington, D.C., in an area with a far lower cost of living. STEM jobs in Boulder make up 13.1% of all opportunities and are available at companies like Medtronic, Ball Aerospace, Qualcomm, Northrop Grumman, Google and IBM.
2. Huntsville, Alabama
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $105,533
Huntsville, Alabama, is home to the Redstone Arsenal complex, which includes missile and rocket program facilities run by the U.S. Army. The nearby Space Launch Program is working on a manned mission to Mars for NASA. The area also includes Cummings Research Park, whose tenants include Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, United Technologies, IBM, AT&T and many others.
1. Lexington Park, Maryland
- Average annual salary for STEM jobs: $109,093
The area with the most STEM jobs that pay well is Lexington Park, Maryland. In all, 22.91% of occupations are STEM jobs that pay at least $80,000 per year. This area is home to the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, and associated companies like Lockheed Martin, BAE System, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and General Dynamics.
Where to Find High-Paying Tech Jobs
Clearly, good jobs in tech can be found far beyond Silicon Valley. And with the rising cost of living in the Bay Area, it makes a lot of sense to look elsewhere. Finding a good job in one of the STEM industries in a community where the cost of living is more moderate is a win-win for any job seeker. Maryland and North Carolina both appear on this list twice, along with many other East Coast locations, but it seems like these high-paying tech jobs can be found all around the U.S. as the West Coast, South and Midwest all have cities popping up.
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GOBankingRates analyzed the top 50 American Metro Statistical Areas (MSA) in terms of population as well as some cities that hold US Naval Air Bases and NASA bases as listed by the governmental websites for each branch. To determine which MSAs had the highest percentage of high-paying tech jobs outside of Silicon Valley, GOBankingRates used the recently released May 2018 National Occupation Employment and Wage Estimate data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. GOBankingRates filtered the occupation title by 1) STEM categories in accordance with BLS definitions, and then calculated what percentage of employment in each MSA was made up of STEM occupations. This total was then filtered again against 2) annual mean wage for each occupation with the lowest limit of $80,000, which was also sourced from the May 2018 BLS National Occupation Employment and Wage estimate data. GOBankingRates then compiled the ranking by which MSA had the highest percentage of STEM occupations with a mean annual wage above $80,000 that was also located outside of the Silicon Valley.
About the Author
Karen Doyle is a personal finance writer with over 20 years’ experience writing about investments, money management and financial planning. Her work has appeared on numerous news and finance
websites including GOBankingRates, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, USA Today, CNBC, Equifax.com, and more.