The US cities where IT pros should live in 2020

Austin, Seattle, and San Francisco rank highest, with the latter offering 'the most enriching startup culture,' a new report reveals.

With the glut of available IT jobs, a seasoned professional can pretty much choose where they'd like to live. But a new report from tech-driven Kisi has made the search easier by ranking the most attractive cities in the IT industry. 

The keyless-solution company's study compared data on career opportunities in the tech industry, lifestyle offerings, and work environment to compile the "Best US cities for IT professionals 2020" index.

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"Many factors come into play in terms of where you are most likely to get a job, and job seekers should always do their homework ahead of a move to ensure their particular skills will be professionally beneficial in any city they move to," said Bernhard Mehl, Kisi CEO. "Our data showed Washington had the highest number of IT job openings, relative to overall job openings, meaning there are proportionately more opportunities to apply for."

Austin, TX, which led for yearly employment growth, IT job openings and its startup ecosystem, topped the list. In second place is the base city of Amazon, Tableau, Microsoft, SAP Concur, Porch, and Expedia: Seattle. A quick visit to Microsoft's job listings shows a whopping 2,620 current openings in the greater Seattle area. 

San Francisco rounded out the top three. It also features "the most enriching startup culture," unsurprising, given what San Francisco can offer to those with literary, artistic, musical, and food interests. 

20 best cities for IT professionals

1. Austin, TX
2. Seattle
3. San Francisco
4. Washington, DC
5. Dallas
6. Raleigh, NC
7. Los Angeles
8. Atlanta
9. Baltimore
10. Boston
11. Phoenix
12. San Diego
13. Sacramento, CA
14. Houston
15. Denver
16. Colorado Springs, CO 
17. New York
18. Las Vegas
19. Tampa, FL
20. Chicago

Kisi first reviewed the US Bureau of Labor Statistic's list of occupations, which included—but is not limited to—computer and information research scientists, network architects, programmers, system analysts, security analysts, web developers and software developers.

Kisi then shortlisted 30 "in-demand and promising" US cities. Career opportunities were evaluated by number of IT firms and job vacancies, as well by an average salary culled from positions for various degrees of experience. It included growth rate, prescribed scores out of 100 which evaluated cost of living, purchasing power, work-life balance and the city's startup ecosystem.

The index also revealed a sample of comparative average salaries. The lists of cities and the top average salaries for IT managers and IT directors were the same. The top 10--with average salaries for IT manager and IT director jobs, respectively, are:

  1. San Francisco ($134,781/$172,770)
  2. Sacramento, CA ($120,848/$156,237)
  3. New York ($120,848/$156,237)
  4. Los Angeles ($118,052/$152,933)
  5. Seattle ($117,901/$152,746)
  6. Washington, DC ($117,694/$152,509)
  7. Boston ($116,296/$150,870)
  8. San Diego ($115,391/$149,775)
  9. Chicago ($111,679/$145,411)
  10. Minneapolis ($110,348/$143,811)

And while what happens there, stays there, IT pros are likely to opt out of Sin City, since Las Vegas ranks as having the lowest share of IT job vacancies out of total job openings, at 2.28%, followed by Miami (2.81%) and Indianapolis (3.12%). 

Conversely, the highest share of job vacancies out of total job openings is Washington, DC (18.18%), followed by Baltimore (14.20%) and Seattle (12.51%).

Even if you do land a job in one of the best cities for IT openings, you'll have the cost of living plus rent to contend with. Kisi used Numbeo's index:

Cost of living plus rent 

  1. San Francisco 102.83
  2. New York 100
  3. Washington, DC 82.88
  4. Boston 78.53
  5. Seattle 75.87
  6. Los Angeles 74.48
  7. San Diego 70.40
  8. Chicago  69.58
  9. Sacramento 61.90
  10. Minneapolis 61.25

Consider a range of factors before making any move, no matter how lucrative it might seem on the surface.

Mehl said, "San Francisco also showed the highest start-up score, so if a healthy and vibrant start-up system is desired, perhaps San Fran would be the best city. Similarly, Austin showed the highest employment growth, so if the sector is not such an issue, a move to Austin could arguably lead to employment. However, again, it's worth noting that the probability of gaining employment also comes down to the job seeker and their individual skills and desires."

"The internet allows for pretty much everything to be researched or arranged ahead of any move," Mehl suggested. "We recommend you take advantage of all resources at your disposal before any move takes place. Use job sites to look into and apply for employment opportunities, conduct Skype interviews, search online for apartments and read personal accounts to get a feel for the location."

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Austin skyline during sunset

Austin

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto