In real estate, everyone knows what really matters: location, location, location. But could career choices be as simple? A new report suggests that geography could indeed be IT job destiny.
Fear not, though; this is not another report decreeing that you move to the staggeringly expensive Silicon Valley to find a great high-tech job. In fact, you'll probably do better in some surprising places, like Huntsville, Ala., Durham, NC or Washington D.C. which at 19, 16 and 13 percent respectively were the three cities with the highest concentrations of tech workers in 2006, the most recent year that BLS data was available.
This was among other unusual findings of a new report looking at the high-tech industry in 60 U.S. cities from the AeA, a high tech trade association. Silicon Valley didn't have the largest gains in high-tech employment, either--that honor went to Seattle, which added 7,800 jobs jobs in 2006, followed by the New York Metro area, which added 6,400. It didn't employ the largest number of high-tech workers; New York and Washington D.C. again beat it out, with Boston and Dallas-Fort Worth closely nipping at its heels.
But it did, as the region has in the past, show tech workers the money in a way that smaller cities did not. The average high-tech wage in Silicon Valley, $145,000, was nearly triple that of Riverside-San Bernadino ($57,236)--the "fastest growing" high-tech city, according to the report--more than double that of Huntsville ($65,848) and 1.5 times that of Durham ($95,551).
Of course, there's more to high-tech job geography than salaries and employment base; there are cost of living indexes--Silicon Valley and New York are losers in this; IT specializations--some say that you'd be better off developing software in Austin than network engineering in San Francisco--and the salient fact that the company you may want to work for has offices where it has offices.
If anything, the importance of geography in a job hunt points to the failure of technology to provide workers with truly wireless workplaces, as has long been promised as the future of work. But until that day happens, it's nice to know that you don't have to flee to the coasts to have a chance at landing a high-tech job.