The Tech Town Index, a new report from the association, finds a surprising geographic diversity among tech hot spots, helped along by both booming college towns and maturing local tech economies.
Yes, you’re probably aware that San Francisco or Seattle are tech hotbeds, but what about Huntsville, Alabama, or Lansing, Michigan?
All four of those cities found a spot on the 2018 edition of CompTIA’s Tech Town Index, a list of cities the association says have strong tech presences with high demand. The list put a lean on cities that had affordable costs of living, but even considering that, some of the most expensive cities in the country—including San Francisco, Boston, and San Jose, California—ranked high on the list.
(Part of the reason? Even though they cost more to live in, median salaries are also much higher than in smaller regions; San Francisco’s $110,000 median salary is $43,000 more than Lansing’s $67,000 median. While that’s well below the average tech salary of $112,890, Lansing’s median salary was still well above the $54,420 average annual wage for all jobs.)
But there was plenty of room for more affordable towns, too. Topping the list overall were two cities in North Carolina—Charlotte and Raleigh. While both had smaller numbers of job listings than more prominent metro areas such as Washington, DC, they made up for it by having cost-of-living levels that were much more modest—adjusted for hourly earnings, Charlotte and Raleigh ranked fourth and third, respectively.
Another North Carolina region a little lower on the list—the cities of Durham and Chapel Hill, combined for purposes of the study—highlighted a broader trend in the report: The concept that college towns are becoming major hubs of innovation in their own right. Other major college towns on the list included Lansing, which benefits from Michigan State University in nearby East Lansing; Madison, Wisconsin, home to the University of Wisconsin; and Boulder, Colorado, the home base for the University of Colorado.
But even cities that couldn’t simply be excused as college towns, like Des Moines, Iowa, or Colorado Springs, Colorado, also did well on the list.
This, according to CompTIA Executive Vice President of Industry Relations Nancy Hammervik, highlights a growing geographic diversity among many of the cities on the list. Roughly half of the 20 cities listed weren’t on either coast, and a number could be considered college towns.
“As technology permeates every corner of our personal and professional lives, employment opportunities are expanding across the nation and fueling job growth in regions not traditionally thought of as tech hubs,” Hammervik said in a news release. “The geographic diversity of the index is something we’re very excited to see and demonstrates the positive impact the technology industry is having on regional economies.”
The study was based on job posting data between August 2017 and July 2018 and focused on areas with populations above 250,000, as they are believed to have the strongest need for technology workers.