By Kevin Juhasz
The job landscape for software engineering jobs is vastly different than it was even just a year ago. The Great Resignation is still making its presence felt, and the availability of tech jobs across the country is growing.
Various industries are struggling to attract and retain top talent, and in response to this, tech companies have beefed up benefits and perks and have become significantly more flexible on hybrid and remote work.
Additionally, there are growing changes related to cost of living (COL). As just one example, the Sunbelt region (generally considered to stretch across the Southeast and Southwest) has consistently been more affordable – but it’s now seeing inflation push the COL higher. This is, in part, buoyed by the region’s success in attracting tech companies to the region as more people leave coastal cities for less dense and more affordable ones.
For tech professionals, this is a great time to be looking for a job. For those who aren’t yet in tech and want to be, it’s also a great time to learn software engineering in coding bootcamps. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics expects job growth of 22% over the next decade for software engineering, almost three times the national average for all industries.
Bureau of Labor and Statistics Projections
The overall median salary for software engineers is $110,140, a nearly 3% jump from previous years.
By and large, the West Coast still provides the highest salaries, but states like Alabama and Montana ranked higher than ever this year, demonstrating how tech and software engineering jobs are more spread out than before.
When it comes to examining Bureau of Labor and Statistics data, looking at it by state often doesn’t drill down far enough, especially when looking at tech sector jobs. For example, a state might have overall relatively low salaries but have areas that offer much higher salaries, which you can see by looking into data by county. Still, the state data is a good jumping-off point for any examination of salaries.
Below, we take a deeper look into the BLS salary data categorized by regions of the United States. While not perfect, it helps give an overall idea of what you can earn where.
The Northeast continues to be a strong area for wages. Every state offers a mean salary of $93K or above, with New York, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia providing the best chances for high six-figure salaries. Even Maine, which has traditionally had the lowest salaries, is offering more competitive wages. As far as metropolitan areas, the Northeast region has two in the top 10 nationwide:– New York-Newark-Jersey City and Leominster-Gardner, MA. The best non-metro area for pay is southern Virginia.
With the exception of Pennsylvania, it’s almost impossible to find a state in the region that doesn’t offer salaries above the national index.
The south is one of the strongest areas of growth for both salaries and job availability, although these things are limited to a handful of states. North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Alabama have all seen mean salaries clock in at $93K and above. The rest of the states in the region are still in the bottom category for software engineering salaries, although it’s all relative.
Huntsville, Ala., now ranks as the 6th best metropolitan area to find a software engineering job. While no other metropolitan areas in the south rank in the top 10 for nationwide salaries, the region, in general, is attracting more tech talent.
Even with inflation, the South continues to be one of the most affordable areas to live. With its low cost and the increasing need for software engineers, the south is steadily becoming a more attractive place to look for jobs.
Last year, Battle Creek, Michigan, was one of the highest-paying metropolitan areas, but that isn’t the case for 2022. Michigan is now ranked as one of the lower states for tech employment and the only state in the region with a mean salary below $93K.
Now, Minnesota is the highest paying state in the region, and Madison, Wisconsin comes in as one of the best metropolitan areas in the nation to find a tech job.
Overall, the Midwest is very affordable in the states that pay lower salaries and less affordable in the states that pay better. Even so, your cost of living impact will still be less here than in many other regions.
Texas continues to be the dominant state in this region, with growth in every state except Oklahoma. The Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan area is ranked in the top 10 for salaries nationwide, and all of the states in the area (except OK) have salaries above $93K.
Like the South, the lower Midwest has a lot to offer when it comes to affordable living. Texas is getting more expensive, but the overall costs are still low enough that prospects in the state are some of the best in the nation.
If salary is your top concern, Colorado continues to be the best place in the Rocky Mountain region, though the cost of living can be higher here than in other areas. And the entire region is experiencing tech sector growth, other than the state of Wyoming. Some of the top places to find a job in the region are western Montana, Arizona, Utah, and Idaho, as well as Boulder, Colorado, all of which continue to pay high salaries and remain good places for employment.
The West Coast region encompasses both California and Oregon, two of the top states for salaries nationwide. Additionally, the region also boasts eight of the top 10 metropolitan areas for salaries. That’s two more slots than the region had last year, so while some jobs may be going elsewhere, high salaries have remained in place here.
In the West, however, a larger city is going to cost more in living expenses, especially in Washington and Southern California, so while there are many good, high-paying jobs in the region, cost of living is certainly something to consider.
Alaska and Hawaii
Historically, Alaska hasn’t been a great area for tech and software engineering jobs as a whole. But the state is seeing slight improvements, so it’s worth noting, even while the cost of living in the state is high.
Hawaii has experienced healthy salary growth recently, and its non-metropolitan areas are in the top 5 for finding jobs.
However, Hawaii is the most expensive state in the U.S., so even though jobs are growing, it’s important to weigh that against the cost of living.
Top 10 Most Expensive U.S. Cities
- Miami, FL
- Los Angeles, CA
- San Diego, CA
- Santa Barbara, CA
- Salinas, CA
- New York City, NY
- Honolulu, HI
- Santa Rosa, CA
- Visalia, CA
- Vallejo/Fairfield, CA
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