Photo courtesy of Flickr: Robbie Shade
When we think of high-tech locations, Silicon Valley is the first to come to mind - and with good reason, as it is the place to be if you want a high-paying job in the tech industry or are looking to create your own start-up, and it has been for some time now. Silicon Valley has been the subject of many movies and even, most recently, a television series. But if you are just starting out in the technology sector or are fresh out of college, you find the "tech Mecca" to be a little bit out of your price range. Never fear - in this blog post, we are going to look at some tech cities that are comparable to Silicon Valley in both pay and opportunity.
Aside from having a high cost of living and being an expensive place to live, Silicon Valley is filled with tech cities where other tech-savvy individuals congregate. Like Hollywood is for actors, Silicon Valley is swarming with competition, and as such, you may find it difficult to land your first (or second) tech job if you have little experience or recently graduated from college.
That isn't to say you can't - or shouldn't try to - make it there. Silicon Valley has a rich history and will continue thriving for the foreseeable future. However, if you are looking for alternative tech cities, look no further than our list below!
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes the technology. Big Tech thrives in Texas cities like Austin, which is home to the prestigious SXSW Interactive festival. You may have heard of it: It is the place where Twitter began.
Austin is also a hot battleground for gigabit Internet services, as both Google Fiber and AT&T have launched their uber high-speed ISPs in the city.
If cowboy boots and hot weather aren't for you, maybe the snowy mountains and clean living offered by Denver, Colorado, will fit your bill. While it is a little pricey as far as tech cities go, Denver makes up for this with high average salaries for those in the tech business - upwards of $90,000.
In addition, Denver is situated next to Boulder, which has long been a hotbed for tech startups, so if you find competition to be stiff in Denver, you will have another area to find work close by.
The only thing bigger that (but not quite as tasty as) Philly's cheesesteaks is its tech population. Like Denver and other cities on our list, the average salary for high-tech gurus is in the range of $90,000.
Philadelphia is not only rich in history and a beautiful, friendly place to live, but in the past few years, there has been a concerted effort in the tech community to make the city a hub for all things tech. Just like Silicon Valley, Philadelphia has some pretty great incentives, such as a hive of incubators and venture capitalists looking for the next big thing to be a part of.
If you like big trees, great coffee, and saving the environment, Portland, Oregon, might be the place for you. Home to the "Silicon Forest," Portland is a relaxed city with plenty of scenery for those tech-heads that are looking to avoid the big-city hustle but still remain relevant.
If you are looking for a place to start your IT career, you could certainly do worse. Why not pack your bags and head along the old Oregon Trail? Just be sure to purchase plenty of oxen for your wagon!
If you like the historic feel of Philadelphia, Boston is another great option for you. Home to some of the top tech and Ivy League schools (think Harvard and MIT), the city has plenty to offer programmers, developers, and network admins looking for their starting point. In addition to the city's Innovation District, residents of Boston will find commuting to other states - such as Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, and Rhode Island - to be a quick hop away, providing opportunity to expand your job search and even take a break on long weekends.
More known for politics and the background scenery for James Patterson's series of thriller books, Washington, DC, is really turning out to be a great place to live for technology majors. With an average salary of nearly $100,000 per year, you can earn some serious cash and maybe dabble a little in the political arena at the same time. Hey - it never hurts to have good contacts in high places!
Kansas City, KS
Yep, you are reading that right. The state made famous by a precocious girl named Dorothy, whose home got sucked up and transplanted to the mystical land of Oz, is also home to one of the hottest tech cities out there.
Kansas City recently made the news for being the marquee site for Google's Fiber launch in the United States, providing tech companies ultra-high-speed Internet and plenty of opportunities for growth without the high cost of living.
Of course, there are many great cities across America where an IT professional can land their dream job and earn a great salary. At the end of the day though, money is only part of the factor when deciding where to begin your career. Family, location, cost of living, and personal preference should all ultimately factor into your final decision.