Special Report

15 Cities With the Most High-Tech Jobs

Wichita, Kansas
Source: Thinkstock

5. Wichita, KS
> Advanced industries, share of employment: 15.2%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 22.4%
> Annual avg. wage: $46,586
> Largest advanced industry: Aircraft products & parts

More than 60% of all advanced industry employees in Wichita work in aircraft manufacturing, by far the largest share nationwide. Wichita has been one the country’s most important aircraft manufacturing hubs since the 1920s, when early aviation companies such as Beechcraft, Cessna, and Stearman Aircraft established operations in the city. Since then, Wichita has been home to facilities for nearly every major aircraft manufacturer in the United States.

With such a highly specialized economy, Wichita may be particularly susceptible to economic fluctuations. Once praised as the “Detroit of the general aviation aircraft industry” in the 1960s, Wichita may have ultimately resembled the Motor City most during the Great Recession. The city’s aviation sector shed roughly 11,000 jobs between 2008 and 2013, and the Wichita unemployment rate has yet to return to pre-recession levels.

Financial District San Francisco, California
Source: Thinkstock

4. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
> Advanced industries, share of employment: 15.3%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 25.9%
> Annual avg. wage: $85,272
> Largest advanced industry: Computer systems design

Many advanced industry products — from aircraft to smartphones to medicines — are highly valuable. Similarly, advanced industry employees are highly valued and are well compensated. Across the San Francisco metro area, the average annual wage of $85,272 is one of the highest in the country. Among the area’s tech employees, the average wage is $158,493 a year, second highest compared even with average wages of advanced industry employees in other cities.

While growth of high-tech jobs like computer programmers and software developers and engineers has slowed in recent years, the Bay Area’s high-tech sector continues to drive economic growth. The San Francisco and San Jose area’s economic growth has outpaced that of any other metro area in California, itself one of the fastest growing state economies in the nation.

Skyline at Golden Hour Detroit, Michigan
Source: Thinkstock

3. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI
> Advanced industries, share of employment: 15.5%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 26.2%
> Annual avg. wage: $56,259
> Largest advanced industry: Engineering

The Detroit area is the third top employer for advanced industry workers, a sharp departure from the narrative of industrial decay frequently associated with the city. Economic troubles have certainly not been wiped out from the region. Still, tech industries in Detroit-Warren-Dearborn are not only dominant, but also thriving. The share of output attributed to advanced industries increased in the Detroit metro area between 2010 and 2015. Some $52.6 billion of the area’s GDP, or 26.2%, is attributable to advanced industries, 12th most among U.S. metro areas and the seventh largest share.

According to the Detroit Regional Chamber, automotive manufacturing and software development have converged to create a unique and productive technology sector. Top companies by revenue operating in the region include Syntel Inc., Compuware Corp., Logicalis Inc., and ProQuest LLC.

Skyline at Night Seattle, Washington
Source: Thinkstock

2. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
> Advanced industries, share of employment: 15.8%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 32.4%
> Annual avg. wage: $67,276
> Largest advanced industry: Aircraft products & parts

A top government contractor, commercial aircraft manufacturer, and the nation’s largest manufacturing exporter, Boeing is a major employer in the Seattle region. Statewide, the company employs close to 80,000 people, many of whom work in tech positions at Seattle area facilities. The metro’s largest advanced industry is indeed aircraft products and parts.

Boeing is by no means the only company driving advanced industries in the Seattle area. E-commerce giant Amazon is headquartered in Seattle. The company hired 76,700 people in 2015, a remarkable employment growth. Many of these jobs are located in the Seattle region, and based on the ongoing construction projects underway in the city, Amazon’s investment in the region will likely continue.

San Jose City Hall Rotunda, California
Source: Thinkstock

1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
> Advanced industries, share of employment: 31.2%
> Advanced industries, share of output: 51.4%
> Annual avg. wage: $116,734
> Largest advanced industry: Computer systems design

The San Jose metropolitan area is far and away the largest advanced industry employer, with such industries accounting for nearly one-third of all employment in the area. Over half of the metro’s GDP is is attributable to the area’s high tech industry — nowhere else is this the case. Silicon Valley, a hotbed of the nation’s high tech activity, is also a source of a high level of innovation. In 2015, 740 patents were awarded for every 100,000 area residents, several times greater than second-place San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, where 209 patents were awarded per 100,000 people. Well known corporations such as Adobe Systems, Apple, Cisco Systems, eBay, HP, Intel, Microsoft, Nasa, and many others are all major employers in the area.

The dominance of the tech industry has contributed to some of the nation’s — if not the world’s — highest-paying jobs. The average San Jose area resident employed in the tech industry earns over $200,000 annually, and the average wage for all employees of $116,734 is the highest of any U.S. metro area.