When tech pros think of career development, many consider a move to Silicon Valley, New York or other notable tech hub. That’s not always necessary: Some smaller cities have burgeoning tech scenes – and very solid pay.
The 2018 Dice Salary Survey has a lot of interesting takeaways, including this: some relatively unheralded cities are developing robust tech communities. Compared to last year's survey, the top eight on our list of "up and comers" all had positive salary growth (the gains were really noticeable, too).
In this breakdown, we avoided the "usual suspects" among the biggest tech hubs (i.e., Silicon Valley), as well as those towns that tend to exist on the very periphery of the nation's tech scene. For example, Seattle and Los Angeles – which both have vibrant tech scenes – were eliminated.
How much salary jumped year-over-year (YoY) was also critical. It’s hard to argue a metro area is ‘emerging’ if salaries are down, right? Many which made the list actually saw salaries dip in 2016 (reflected in the 2017 Dice Salary Survey), so 2017 was a rebound year for some areas, as well.
Philadelphia topped our emerging tech hub list (listed as ‘Phila’ on the chart below). The city may be experiencing some company and talent overflow from New York and Boston; whatever the reason, it's enjoying a resurgence. Philadelphia salaries are up 7.7 percent YoY, the largest gain on our list, and it has the best pay of any emerging tech-town.
Atlanta was second, with a five-percent uptick. Charlotte and Raleigh each earned a 3.7 percent bump in pay, with Portland picking up a 6.5 percent salary increase (which it tied with Tampa). Houston saw a nice 2.4 percent uptick, and Miami 4.6 percent.
This data is special because it shows some tech hubs are resistant or independent of the tech scene at-large. Salary growth has stagnated, with little movement since 2015. Notable tech locales such as Silicon Valley and Seattle were mostly static in 2017, with none gaining more than 0.4 percent in earnings for tech pros. (New York, with its bevy of web developers, had the biggest salary gains amongst the top five, with its tech pros earning 4.6 percent more.)
In addition to better pay, tech pros in these emerging hubs may be getting more bang outside their buck. Dice’s data shows employers are also offering better benefits to offset lackluster pay. None of these emerging hubs pay as well as those in our top five, so we’d like to think they’re attracting talent via other methods (not to mention a cheaper standard of living).
Remote work may also play a role. A tech pro in Philadelphia may actually be working for a New York-based firm, and commuting once a week (or less). The Salary Survey accounts for where tech pros are, not the companies they work for.
In other words, you don’t need to be in Silicon Valley to make a good living in tech. Many large firms don’t have a presence there, and those that do may not provide good enough reason to uproot your life for work (besides, you can’t get a proper cheesesteak in San Jose, and the coffee is better in Portland).