The Best Cities for High-Tech Jobs

One in every five jobs in the United States required a high level of knowledge in science, technology, engineering or math as of 2011. Since the industrial revolution, the share of these kinds of jobs in the U.S. workforce has roughly doubled.

This week the Brookings Institution released “The Hidden STEM Economy,” a report that reviews the concentration of jobs that require knowledge in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) by metropolitan area. These jobs are often found in health care, computers and manufacturing. In the San Jose metro area, roughly a third of the workforce are STEM workers. Based on a review of the proportion of workers in STEM jobs in the 100 largest metropolitan areas, these are the U.S. metro areas with the most high-tech jobs.

Click here to see the best cities for high-tech jobs

“The STEM workforce is much broader and more diverse than many people might think,” explained Jonathan Rothwell, Associate Fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Many jobs that require very high levels of STEM knowledge are done by folks without even a bachelor’s degree.” This includes the manufacturing and construction fields.

Indeed, in cities like Detroit, as much as 50% of all the workers in STEM positions have just an associate’s degree or less, and usually workers become proficient after several months of training. Rothwell noted that these positions are often considered blue collar. But, he added, “these are highly-skilled jobs that pay decent wages. These are not jobs where you can just walk off the street, you need to have some rigorous on-the-job training.”

Some of the cities with the most STEM workers only have them in occupations that require an extensive knowledge base, like technological research and medicine. The Palm Bay, Fla., area, for example, has a lot of workers in research positions associated with the Kennedy Space Center, but relatively fewer jobs in lower-skilled STEM jobs like manufacturing and construction.

While Brookings chose to look at STEM jobs that require bachelor’s degrees and those that do not, the general education levels of the cities reviewed are higher than the rest of the country. In seven of the 10 metropolitan areas on our list, the percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree is higher than the 28.5% across the nation as a whole. In five of the metro areas, more than 40% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Jobs in the STEM fields tend to pay significantly better than others. In all but one metropolitan area, the average wage for a STEM worker was more than $30,000 higher than for a non-STEM one. The discrepancy was considerably larger in some metropolitan areas. In San Jose, the average STEM wage was $104,110, while the average non-STEM wage was $52,740.

Due to the high presence of STEM jobs, metro areas on our list tend to have higher household incomes, compared to the country as a whole. Seven of the 10 had a higher median household income in 2011 than the U.S. figure. Five were among the 10 highest-earning large metro areas.

Based on data on the 100 largest metropolitan areas provided by the Brookings Institution, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 metropolitan areas with the highest percentage of jobs in STEM fields. In addition, Brookings provided the percentage of jobs in each metropolitan area that were considered super-STEM jobs, which involve high levels of research and are typically held by highly educated individuals. Data was provided also for average wages for bachelor degree holders and non-bachelor degree holders in both STEM and non-STEM jobs. Information on patents awarded per 100 workers annually between 2007 to 2011 also was provided by the Brookings Institution.

These are the best cities for high-tech jobs.

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