Main image of article How Much Can You Earn in the Nation's Larger Tech Hubs?

How much can a software engineer make in some of the nation’s largest tech hubs?

That’s a key question if you’re debating whether to move to, say, Seattle or San Francisco. While your compensation level depends on many factors, including your experience and unique skillset, geography can influence the size of your take-home pay. 

According to, which crowdsources compensation data for a variety of tech jobs, here are the median software engineer salaries for five major tech hubs, including the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City:

It should come as no surprise that the Bay Area pays substantially more than the other tech hubs, even New York City. The reason for that is obvious: some of the nation’s biggest (and highest-paying) tech companies are clustered along the bay between San Francisco and San Jose, and they’re all competing aggressively for talent in an area that’s notoriously expensive. In that context, rising compensation levels are inevitable, especially for those who specialize in cutting-edge arenas such as artificial intelligence (A.I.).  

Seattle is likewise no slouch when it comes to compensation, thanks to the presence of tech giants such as Microsoft and Seattle that are always fighting for tech professionals, along with dozens of other tech companies willing to pay a premium for talent.

If there’s a surprise on this list, it’s how far New York City lags its rivals when it comes to median salary, especially considering the metropolis’s ultra-high cost of living. Many of the nation’s largest tech giants have sizable real-estate footprints in Manhattan, and the city as a whole is known for its burgeoning startup community, further elevating pay.

Whether you plan on staying put in your current city or you’re contemplating a move, keep in mind that the nation’s tech activity (and jobs) aren’t concentrated in just a few spots, especially with the rise of remote and hybrid work in recent years. Washington, DC, for example, has enjoyed a surge in tech-industry activity thanks to several factors, including federal hiring and Amazon’s decision to build its massive HQ2 office in the area. Smaller towns across the city have also fostered their own tech communities.

No matter where you live, the key to unlocking your maximum salary is to always keep your skills up-to-date, and to negotiate effectively for compensation. Even if your current employer is unwilling to pay you more, they might prove amenable to negotiating for other perks and benefits, such as flexible schedules or subsidized training.