Emerging Tech Cities for New College Grads

Silicon Valley, New York, Boston, Seattle, and the Dulles Technology Corridor all host major, well-established technology sectors. However, many other areas offer innovative tech centers in the United States. In recent years, several regions have become thriving tech hubs, attracting college graduates in rising numbers.

Many computer science and tech-related professions should see significant growth in the years ahead. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 31% growth rate for cybersecurity positions and a 22% growth rate for software development roles from 2019-2029. These new roles may open in emerging tech cities across the United States.

Some cities with developing tech sectors offer low costs of living, strong salaries, and significant venture capital investment. This guide profiles five rising tech hubs that have not yet hit the mainstream for tech.

The 5 Best Cities for IT Jobs


Austin, TX | Raleigh, NC | Denver, CO | Huntsville, AL | Atlanta, GA

Read more about these metro areas

Why Work in an Up-and-Coming Tech City?

Top tech hubs like Silicon Valley offer many career opportunities, but they also present significant challenges. Industry saturation creates strong competition for open roles. Established tech cities attract highly qualified candidates in large numbers. As such, new college grads may struggle to compete against more accomplished and experienced job-seekers.

Many up-and-coming tech cities offer pay rates that compare favorably with Silicon Valley and the Dulles Technology Corridor, but with far less competition and lower living costs.

Factor in the high cost of living in cities like San Francisco, and emerging tech professionals with entry-level salaries must stretch to make the numbers work. Many up-and-coming tech cities offer pay rates that compare favorably with Silicon Valley and the Dulles Technology Corridor, but with far less competition and lower living costs.

Today’s Best Cities for Tech Jobs

The up-and-coming tech cities profiled in this ranking offer strong and growing tech industry job numbers, plus appealing salaries. The ranking also favors:

  • Larger metro areas
  • Areas with younger population demographics
  • Locations with strong entrepreneurship and investment activity
  • Cities consistently mentioned in multiple neutral, authoritative third-party research sources

We compiled this list by applying a qualitative analysis of key factors to deliver a ranking of the five best emerging cities for tech jobs in the United States.

Austin, Texas
Cost of Living (compared with San Francisco) 46.8% lower
Per Capita Income $41,960
Median Tech Wage $89,000
% of Workforce in Tech 15.3%
Economic Impact of Tech Industry $38 billion

U.S. Census Bureau data indicates that Texas is the fastest-growing state in the country. Austin added more than 177,000 residents from 2010-2019.

Major tech companies including Atlassian, Facebook, Google, and Oracle have established a strong presence in Austin, leading industry observers to dub the city “Silicon Hills.”

Leading Tech Careers
Popular subfields include IT support, data science and analysis, QA testing, and entry-level help desk and tech support roles.
Top Tech Employers
CompTIA includes IBM, Dell, Amazon, Apple, and Advanced Micro Devices among Austin’s leading IT employers. Financial services companies, including Deloitte, Charles Schwab, and Visa, also hire tech professionals in the Austin metro area.
Recent Tech Growth
In 2018, Austin became the new home of 46 relocating technology companies. That figure climbed to 58 in 2019, bringing about 19,000 new IT job listings to the city from 2019-2020, according to CompTIA. Venture capitalists have responded to the trend with a surge in funding. In 2019, Austin received 87% more VC investment than it had just two years prior.





Raleigh, North Carolina
Cost of Living (compared with San Francisco) 49.5% lower
Per Capita Income $40,210
Median Tech Wage $89,100
% of Workforce in Tech 13.8%
Economic Impact of Tech Industry $18 billion

Situated within the North Carolina Research Triangle, Raleigh ranks among the top U.S. cities for startups. It also sports a dense concentration of youthful residents: Business Insider reported in 2019 that young adults make up 20.4% of the city’s total population. Factor in low youth unemployment rates and an advantageous cost of living, and it is little wonder that Raleigh has become one of the nation’s best cities for tech jobs.

In 2020, the Raleigh-adjacent municipality of Wake Forest confirmed plans to build a state-of-the-art, 200-acre mixed-use technology park. The facility and its 180,000 square feet of office capacity may help accelerate the Raleigh metro area’s already-strong tech growth.

Leading Tech Careers
Raleigh NBC affiliate WRAL reports leading North Carolina tech occupations of 2020 in software development, network and systems administration, systems analysis, user support, and IT project management.
Top Tech Employers
According to CompTIA, leading technology industry employers in Raleigh include IBM, Red Hat, SAS Institute, Verizon, and Lenovo. Other major companies that hire tech and IT professionals in large numbers include Wells Fargo, Metropolitan Life Insurance, and Credit Suisse.
Recent Tech Growth
Since 2015, North Carolina State University students have launched more than 170 startups to draw a combined $1.7 billion in venture capital. This funding jump-started a strong growth cycle, which continues with the construction of Wake Forest’s cutting-edge new technology park.





Denver, Colorado
Cost of Living (compared with San Francisco) 40.5% lower
Per Capita Income $44,810
Median Tech Wage $96,100
% of Workforce in Tech 12.0%
Economic Impact of Tech Industry $35 billion

With its scenic location in the Rocky Mountains, Denver has always appealed to people who enjoy the outdoors. Denver Startup Week’s entrepreneurship and innovation showcase has become a major annual draw.

Leading Tech Careers
Denver features employment opportunities in software development, information security, systems engineering, data science, and systems and network administration.
Top Tech Employers
In addition to a burgeoning startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem, Denver hosts major IT and tech employers. Beyond Facebook, Google, and Amazon, tech companies such as CACI, Accenture, and Arrow Electronics hire computer science professionals. Opportunities extend beyond the tech industry. Government contractors like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon consistently hire people in Denver with computer science backgrounds. Telecom firms, including CenturyLink and Comcast, also require savvy tech professionals.
Recent Tech Growth

The Denver Tech Center helped put the Mile High City on the industry map in the 1970s. Denver’s modern tech boom reached new heights in 2018 when Facebook opened new offices near the city’s Union Station. Amazon and Google also established and expanded their Denver presence during the 2010s, with Amazon investing a reported $2.8 billion in Colorado.

In August 2020, software analytics giant Palantir confirmed plans to relocate its headquarters from Silicon Valley to Denver. The move increased speculation that other major California-based tech firms could soon follow suit, with Denver ranking among the leading candidates to absorb many major relocations.





Huntsville, Alabama
Cost of Living (compared with San Francisco) 53.0% lower
Per Capita Income $35,360
Median Tech Wage $96,200
% of Workforce in Tech 23.2%
Economic Impact of Tech Industry $7 billion

Situated in northern Alabama, Huntsville hosts a metro-area population estimated at just over 471,000. Historically driven by many military-industrial installations, Huntsville’s booming technology industry has diversified in recent years. Local economic development initiatives have driven strong growth in entrepreneurship, incubation, and research and development activity.

Huntsville’s standing as an excellent destination for tech professionals was a well-kept secret for many years. It now ranks among the best cities for IT jobs in the American South.

Leading Tech Careers
Citing ZipRecruiter, CBS News lists software engineering, systems engineering, and tech support specializations among Huntsville’s most common tech occupations. Given the high local rate of military activity, cybersecurity professionals also benefit from strong demand.
Top Tech Employers
CompTIA lists SAIC, COLSA Corporation, and Modern Technology Solutions among Huntsville’s leading tech companies. Government contractors and firms with military-industrial ties also employ many tech workers, including Northrop Grumman, Leidos/Dynetics, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin.
Recent Tech Growth

Diversification has driven Huntsville’s recent growth into one of the nation’s top tech cities. The city’s tech economy began to grow beyond its traditional military-industrial concentration during the 2010s. This growth fueled a construction boom that revitalized the city’s downtown area, attracting further investment and perpetuating a strong growth cycle.

CompTIA projects that IT employment in the Huntsville metro area will grow by 8% from 2020-2025. With nearly one-quarter of the city already working in tech, this expansion could deliver thousands of new well-paid positions.





Atlanta, Georgia
Cost of Living (compared with San Francisco) 47.1% lower
Per Capita Income $37,330
Median Tech Wage $88,900
% of Workforce in Tech 9.7%
Economic Impact of Tech Industry $51 billion

Tech industry insiders have crowned the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell metro area as the “Silicon Valley of the South.” This young, dynamic city has long functioned as a major regional economic and corporate center, with major companies like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Delta Air Lines, and UPS calling Atlanta home.

More recently, the Atlanta Tech Village has emerged as a major driver of its innovation economy. Analysts believe the city could soon join the uppermost ranks of the world’s best cities for tech jobs.

Leading Tech Careers
CompTIA’s 2020 Tech Town Index singles out software development, financial technology, blockchain technology, and health technology as leading computer science and IT sectors in the Atlanta metro area.
Top Tech Employers
Atlanta hosts major technology and telecommunications companies that employ many computer science professionals. CompTIA identifies IBM, Accenture, Amazon, Cox Communications, and Verizon among the state’s top employers. Outside of tech, the list includes Deloitte, Anthem Blue Cross, Home Depot, and the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Recent Tech Growth

Atlanta’s emergence as one of the best cities for tech jobs has been a long time in the making. The city’s profile as a leading regional center of corporate enterprise played a key role, as big businesses hired many tech professionals to digitize operations. Analysts also cite the growth of the Atlanta Tech Village as a critically important catalyst.

Founded in 2012, the Atlanta Tech Village provides support to innovators, entrepreneurs, and startups. Its goal of creating 10,000 new tech jobs in Atlanta appears within reach. CompTIA’s 2020 Tech Town Index credited the organization with 6,500 new jobs across more than 300 startup ventures. The village has also drawn over $826 million in capital investment.

See what programs can give you a competitive edge:

Job Hunting in Tech Hubs

Startups and innovators in emerging tech hubs rely on up-and-coming talent to fill vacancies. This makes college career centers a good place to start seeking opportunities. Most schools offer these services to enrolled students and recent graduates.

Internet job boards, tech recruiters, job fairs, alumni associations, and personal networks also offer productive job search assets. These four sources also connect users to cities with the most tech jobs:

  • LinkedIn

    Recruiters and companies use this leading professional social network when looking to fill vacancies. Stats from early 2020 indicate massive popularity, with an estimated 310 million active monthly users.

  • Dice

    This job board features tens of thousands of active job postings and maintains a strong core focus on technology and IT industries.

  • Indeed

    Attracting huge traffic volumes with its savvy content and posting strategies, Indeed continues to increase in popularity with job-seekers and recruiters.

  • Stack Overflow

    This information hub for tech professionals now includes job listings. Innovators love this platform’s resources, making it an intriguing place to seek jobs in emerging tech cities.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which is the fastest-growing tech hub?

    There is no objective answer to this question, as industry observers apply different criteria to define “fast-growing.” Austin, Denver, and Atlanta commonly rank among the fastest-growing tech cities, but Raleigh, Huntsville, and established centers like Northern California, Boston, New York, and the Washington, D.C. metro areas also continue to grow.

  • What metro areas are turning into the best cities for software engineers?

    In 2021, the popular job search portal Indeed listed Dallas, Atlanta, Colorado Springs, Austin, and Denver among the top U.S. cities for software engineers. Indeed also included legacy tech hubs like Boston, Seattle, New York, San Francisco, and San Jose in its 2021 list.

  • Which tech cities in America have the most IT jobs?

    The January 2021 issue of Global Trade reviewed cities with the highest number of technology jobs per capita. In descending order, its top-five metro areas were San Jose, Washington, D.C., Seattle, San Francisco, and Raleigh.

  • What tech jobs are most in demand?

    Drawing on data from Indeed, Forbes published a review of the technology job titles with the greatest percentage increase in available postings from January-March 2020. The top five were WordPress developer, systems integration engineer, SAS programmer, senior technical lead, and SAP/ABAP developer. Meanwhile, the BLS projects the most significant tech employment growth for information security analysts and software developers from 2019-2029.



Feature Image: RYAN KYTE / Moment / Getty Images

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