Tech startups have long attracted IT professionals to their payrolls, lured by the opportunity to work on cool projects with new technologies. If you’re seeking the thrill of startup life (and the prospect of IPO riches), head to one of the following 10 U.S. cities identified by PayScale as a hotspot for finding high-paying IT jobs with tech startups.
Economists with salary data provider PayScale compiled a list of the 10 best cities in the U.S. for finding high-paying IT jobs with tech startups. They looked at the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S. and determined the number of startup IT jobs available per capita in each location. The company also investigated average salaries in each city. PayScale compared the jobs and salary data with national averages to develop its ranking of hotspots for tech startups.
Not surprisingly, San Francisco and its surrounding cities topped PayScale’s list of the best places for finding IT jobs with tech startups. According to PayScale’s research, the Silicon Valley/Bay-area boasts 2.5 times more IT jobs with tech startups than the national average. In 2011, venture capitalists inked 1,158 deals in the Valley, worth $11.6 billion, according to PWC and the National Venture Capital Association. The median annual salary that these companies offer tech workers is $84,400. The area’s history of launching startup companies, combined with its proximity to venture capital firms and prestigious educational institutions, keeps it on top.
The city that hosts SXSW, the hippest celebration of music, film and technology, ranked second on PayScale’s list of the best cities for finding IT jobs with tech startups. While the median annual salary for tech workers at area startups is only $66,600, Austin claims 2.3 times more IT jobs with tech startups than the national average. Round Rock-based Dell Computer established Austin’s tech presence in 1984, and now the city is brimming with tech companies. Check out AustinStartup’s list of the top 100 emerging technology companies in the are.
The looming presences of two of the world’s most famous tech companies, Amazon and Microsoft, help drive up salaries and startup activity in the Seattle metro area. The median annual salary for IT workers with tech startups in Seattle is $74,900. The city is home to twice as many startups as the national average. Notable startups in the area include the Cheezburger Network, Big Fish Games, Zillow and Jobster.
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City has been dubbed “Silicon Slopes” for the tech community that has grown inside Utah’s capital and for the mountains that surround it. Notable tech companies based in Salt Lake City include Overstock.com and Software Technology Group. SaaS companies Omniture and AtTask are headquartered 40 miles south in Orem, and Ancestry.com is based in Provo. The median annual salary for IT workers with tech startups in Salt Lake City is $61,400. “Cash compensation is usually lower at startups than it is at bigger firms,” says PayScale’s Bardaro. She adds that it’s balanced out by equity in the company and other perks.
In the 1970s, the city of Denver built the Denver Technology Center (DTC), an office park off Interstate 25 in the southwestern part of the Denver metro-area. DTC gives several big tech companies, including HP, Oracle and SAP, an outpost in the West. Late last year, an 80,000 square foot facility within the DTC, dubbed the Innovation Pavillion, was formed to co-locate startups with established companies, academic institutions and government organizations, according to the Denver Post. The median annual salary for tech workers at startups in the Denver metro area is $65,300.
Budding entrepreneurs and technologists studying at Harvard and MIT have made Boston a hub for startup activity. Famous Boston-and Massachusetts-based startups include Monster.com, Brightcove, and Akamai Technologies. Today there’s a new pack of promising startups, which include peddl, MOVL and Tracelytics, among many others. An outgrowth of the MIT Media Lab, peddl aims to revolutionize the classified marketplace the way Craigslist did a decade ago. Social television company MOVL captured the attention—and VC dollars—of Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank star Mark Cuban. Tracelytics does application performance management. The median annual salary for IT workers with tech startups in Boston is $74,100.
North Carolina’s capital recommitted itself to becoming an “Innovation Center” in January 2012 when city leaders, in partnership with North Carolina State University and several local economic development organizations, held an “Innovation Summit” designed to foster entrepreneurs and startups in the city. The city’s plan includes creating an Innovation Center to house startups and attracting more money to the region from venture capitalists. Famous tech companies based in the Raleigh/Research Triangle Park area include Red Hat and SAS Institute. The median annual salary for IT workers with tech startups in Raleigh is $63,900.
Atlanta had the second-highest rate of entrepreneurial activity across 15 of the largest metro areas in the U.S. in 2011, according to the Kauffman Foundation. The foundation’s research shows that there are 500 entrepreneurs in Atlanta for every 100,000 people. Atlanta’s increase in entrepreneurial activity can be attributed to the 25 business incubators in Georgia and to the support of organizations such as the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG). Some of the state’s most innovative technology companies, according to TAG, are AirWatch, Proximus Mobility and SalesLoft. The median annual salary for IT workers with tech startups in Atlanta is $64,800.
Entrepreneurs in Washington, D.C. want everyone to know about the thriving startup community in and around the nation’s capital. Thus, they created the Website, Proudly Made in DC, to highlight these companies. The area features a blend of consumer- and enterprise-focused tech startups. One famous consumer-oriented Washington, D.C.-based startup is Living Social. Enterprise-oriented startups such as Zenoss, Chart.io, and Netuitive respectively provide data center operations management, data analysis and predictive analytics software and services. The median annual salary for tech workers with startups in the Washington, D.C. area is $75,400.
Venture capitalists made 208 deals worth nearly $2 billion with startups based in Los Angeles and Orange County in 2011, according to PWC and the National Venture Capital Association. Of the 15 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, Los Angeles had the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity in 2011, with 580 entrepreneurs for every 100,000 adults, according to the Kauffman Foundation. Because of all this startup activity, Los Angeles is becoming known as “Silicon Beach.” Famous LA-based tech companies include MySpace and Fandango. Interesting up-and-comers include ToothTag and Row 44. The median annual salary for IT workers with tech startups in LA is $69,000.