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by Heytutor Blog
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Since its inception, the U.S. job market has undergone significant and transformative changes, moving from the agricultural to the industrial to the information revolution. Increasingly, the market is shifting toward jobs that favor science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, since 2009, the growth of STEM jobs outpaced non-STEM jobs by a factor of two.


The data also shows that among STEM occupations, computer and engineering occupations have experienced the greatest growth. Software developers are in particularly high demand. Since 2010, overall employment has increased approximately 16 percent, while employment for software developers increased by more than 66 percent. Data from the BLS shows that moving forward, the number of software developer jobs is expected to continue growing much faster than the average across all occupations. 


With software developer jobs in such high demand, it’s not surprising that wages in these occupations have also outpaced the national average. Since 2000, software developer salaries have increased an average of 10.4 percent per year, compared to 4.5 percent across all occupations.



Despite rising wages nationally, what software developers earn can fluctuate based on a variety of factors, especially location. There is a significantly positive relationship between the number of software developer jobs in an area and the salary for software developers. Areas with the greatest number of developer jobs tend to offer the highest salaries, which is a reason many aspiring software engineers are attracted to large tech hotspots.



At the same time, the metropolitan areas with the highest concentrations of tech jobs also tend to have above average home prices. Salaries in these metros do skew higher, but only up to a point, which is perhaps why many people are leaving (or plan to leave) tech hubs like San Francisco and San Jose in favor of more affordable areas.



For example, the San Jose metro area has the second highest number of software developer jobs (78,730) in the U.S. as well as the highest unadjusted salary ($137,397). Yet, high living expenses in the area drops the cost-of-living adjusted salary down to $104,964. On top of that, the median house price is $1,193.600.


Fortunately, software developers have options when it comes to finding work in the U.S. Many large metros offer above average salaries and near or below average home prices. To identify the best paying cities for software developers, HeyTutor analyzed salary and employment statistics for U.S. metropolitan areas using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics. For each location, HeyTutor calculated a cost-of-living adjusted salary for software developers based on regional differences in the price of goods and services. Cities were then ranked by their adjusted salaries. 


Only the largest 100 metro areas by software developer employment were included in the analysis. Here’s what HeyTutor found:



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The 15 best paying cities for software developers


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15. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

  • Mean software developer salary (adjusted): $109,013

  • Mean software developer salary (unadjusted): $98,112

  • Mean salary across all occupations (unadjusted): $50,030

  • Number of software developer jobs: 8,620

  • Median home price: $169,900


Software developers in the Cincinnati metro area (encompassing parts of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana) earn nearly twice as much as the average worker in the region. On top of that, home prices and cost of living fall far below the national average. But Cincinnati has more to offer than affordable living, famous chili, and a strong sports presence. When it comes to job opportunities, Cincinnati has a growing startup community. The region is also home to long-standing companies including The Kroger Co., General Electric, and Procter & Gamble. 



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14. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA

  • Mean software developer salary (adjusted): $109,849

  • Mean software developer salary (unadjusted): $106,334

  • Mean salary across all occupations (unadjusted): $52,750

  • Number of software developer jobs: 38,110

  • Median home price: $219,600


With 38,110 software developer jobs, the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell metro area of Georgia is booming with opportunity. Compared with the rest of the country, the Atlanta metro is slightly more affordable, which bumps the cost-of-living adjusted software developer salary up to almost $110,000 per year. As a bustling metropolitan area, Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell is known for its diversity, culture, and music. Atlanta itself serves as the headquarters for many well-known companies including Delta Airlines, The Home Depot, Cox Enterprises, and the Coca-Cola Company. The city is also home to Atlanta Tech Village, the fourth largest tech hub in America.



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13. Durham-Chapel Hill, NC

  • Mean software developer salary (adjusted): $110,313

  • Mean software developer salary (unadjusted): $105,018

  • Mean salary across all occupations (unadjusted): $59,940

  • Number of software developer jobs: 6,800

  • Median home price: $243,700


The Durham-Chapel Hill metro area of North Carolina is perhaps best known for its major universities. The area boasts three schools with strong STEM programs and is part of what is known as the Research Triangle. Below average living costs in the area bump adjusted salaries up significantly. Recent graduates and experienced software developers can find work with companies including IBM, Cisco, and Lenovo. However, with its strong research and technology roots, Durham-Chapel Hill is also a mecca for start-ups.



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12. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

  • Mean software developer salary (adjusted): $110,891

  • Mean software developer salary (unadjusted): $111,113

  • Mean salary across all occupations (unadjusted): $52,590

  • Number of software developer jobs: 46,130

  • Median home price: $243,900


The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro area of Texas maintains 46,130 software developer jobs, which are typically well paid. The region has its roots in the cowboy lifestyle but has also cemented itself as a lively cosmopolitan area with plenty of bars, music venues, and theaters that attract young professionals. Workwise, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington also has much to offer software developers. Some of the region’s most notable employers include Bank of America, AT&T, Lockheed Martin, and Texas Instruments.



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11. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

  • Mean software developer salary (adjusted): $110,898

  • Mean software developer salary (unadjusted): $104,688

  • Mean salary across all occupations (unadjusted): $46,650

  • Number of software developer jobs: 5,410

  • Median home price: $194,100


While typically associated with the Alamo and its famous river walk, the San Antonio-New Braunfels metro area of Texas is also recognized as a growing region for technology jobs. It currently counts 5,410 software developer jobs, a number it is actively planning to grow. On average, developers in these jobs earn an unadjusted yearly salary of $104,688, but low living costs bump the effective salary up to almost $111,000 per year. Major employers in the area include USAA, RackSpace, and the Southwest Research Institute.



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10. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

  • Mean software developer salary (adjusted): $111,017

  • Mean software developer salary (unadjusted): $142,101

  • Mean salary across all occupations (unadjusted): $72,400

  • Number of software developer jobs: 59,550

  • Median home price: $946,700


Software developers in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metro area of California far surpass their peers when it comes to average unadjusted yearly salary. These developers earn $142,101 per year compared to $109,913. However, developers in the Bay Area pay substantially more than their peers for housing, goods, and services, which substantially lowers their adjusted wages. The region attracts tech professionals from around the world and is home to dozens of major internet companies, including Twitter, Airbnb, Salesforce, and Uber.



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9. Greensboro-High Point, NC

  • Mean software developer salary (adjusted): $111,050

  • Mean software developer salary (unadjusted): $99,612

  • Mean salary across all occupations (unadjusted): $44,570

  • Number of software developer jobs: 1,560

  • Median home price: $136,000


With an average home price of $136,000 and an overall cost of living that’s far below the national average, Greensboro-High Point is an affordable option for software developers, whose adjusted salaries top $111,000 per year. Greensboro and High Point comprise two of the three major communities in the Piedmont Triad, a coastal plain region of North Carolina. The location lends itself to plenty of green space and parks. It is also home to numerous colleges and universities as well as the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. Major employers in the area include Cone Health and Ralph Lauren Corp.



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8. St. Louis, MO-IL

  • Mean software developer salary (adjusted): $111,234

  • Mean software developer salary (unadjusted): $101,668

  • Mean salary across all occupations (unadjusted): $50,250

  • Number of software developer jobs: 11,840

  • Median home price: $166,500


The St. Louis metro area counts 11,840 software developer jobs. While the average unadjusted salary for software developers is below the national average, affordable prices in the area significantly raise cost-of-living adjusted wages. St. Louis has made a concentrated effort to bring tech companies and tech workers to the area. Leaders are focused on helping startups thrive. At the same time, software developers can also find work with well-established employers in the area such as Boeing and Anheuscher-Busch.



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7. Dayton, OH

  • Mean software developer salary (adjusted): $111,616

  • Mean software developer salary (unadjusted): $99,338

  • Mean salary across all occupations (unadjusted): $50,100

  • Number of software developer jobs: 4,240

  • Median home price: $124,100


Below average living costs make the Dayton metro area one of the most lucrative locations to be a software developer. Developers in the region can expect to earn an effective salary that exceeds $111,000 per year. Dayton is home to the Air Force Research Lab, which is also the largest employer in the region. Many of the other large employers in the area are based in the healthcare, education, and manufacturing industries. These employers include Premier Health, Miami University, and Honda of America-Anna.



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6. Colorado Springs, CO

  • Mean software developer salary (adjusted): $112,118

  • Mean software developer salary (unadjusted): $111,670

  • Mean salary across all occupations (unadjusted): $51,430

  • Number of software developer jobs: 5,780

  • Median home price: $296,500


Located at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs is heralded for its scenic landscape. It’s also a great place to be a software developer, with jobs available in a diverse range of fields. Major employers in Colorado Springs include Cherwell Software, LockHeed Martin Corporation, and Oracle. When not working, software developers also have plenty of options for play from exploring Pikes Peak to visiting one of many local breweries



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5. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC

  • Mean software developer salary (adjusted): $114,122

  • Mean software developer salary (unadjusted): $107,046

  • Mean salary across all occupations (unadjusted): $51,000

  • Number of software developer jobs: 12,800

  • Median home price: $208,500


The Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia metro area of North Carolina and South Carolina is one of the nation’s key banking centers. Bank of America has its headquarters in Charlotte while other major players include Wells Fargo and Ally Financial. The financial sector has been instrumental in helping to bring 12,800 software developer jobs to the region. The average software developer in Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia earns an unadjusted yearly salary of $107,046, but below average living costs boost that number up to more than $114,000 in purchasing power.



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4. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL

  • Mean software developer salary (adjusted): $114,995

  • Mean software developer salary (unadjusted): $110,280

  • Mean salary across all occupations (unadjusted): $48,940

  • Number of software developer jobs: 4,400

  • Median home price: $213,500


Located along the eastern coast of Florida, the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville metro area offers software developers plenty of sun and surf. Home prices in the region are just upward of $200,000 while software developers earn an average unadjusted yearly salary of $110,280. That number gets bumped up to an effective wage of almost $115,000 per year as a result of below average costs. While beaches may play into the popularity of Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, much of the region’s tech development is owed to the sky. The metro area is home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and is enveloped in the part of Florida known as “Space Coast.” 



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3. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

  • Mean software developer salary (adjusted): $117,323

  • Mean software developer salary (unadjusted): $131,167

  • Mean salary across all occupations (unadjusted): $65,400

  • Number of software developer jobs: 65,760

  • Median home price: $491,600


With Boeing, Amazon, and Microsoft in their backyard, software developers in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area of Washington have exciting options for work. The region counts 65,670 software developer jobs with the average professional earning an unadjusted salary of $131,167 a year. Home prices in the Seattle area are high, but far below those found in Silicon Valley. Seattle is known for more than its business footprint, though. People flock to the city and surrounding area for the music, arts, food, outdoor living, and professional sports.



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2. Columbus, OH

  • Mean software developer salary (adjusted): $117,552

  • Mean software developer salary (unadjusted): $108,500

  • Mean salary across all occupations (unadjusted): $51,260

  • Number of software developer jobs: 13,430

  • Median home price: $192,000


Columbus claims an impressive 13,340 software developer jobs. Employees in these jobs earn a cost-of-living adjusted wage of more than $117,000 per year. Columbus is the largest city in Ohio, yet maintains an affordable cost of living. Beyond a wealth of software jobs and higher-than-average salaries, Columbus is known for its bustling microbrewery and arts scene as well as its popular college football team, the Ohio State Buckeyes. The college itself represents the largest employer in Columbus. Companies including JP Morgan Chase, Nationwide Insurance, and Limited Brands also have a sizeable presence in the area.



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1. Huntsville, AL

  • Mean software developer salary (adjusted): $120,392

  • Mean software developer salary (unadjusted): $108,232

  • Mean salary across all occupations (unadjusted): $54,630

  • Number of software developer jobs: 5,920

  • Median home price: $169,500


The average software developer in Huntsville earns an unadjusted salary of $108,232 a year, but that number gets bumped up to over $120,000 in purchasing power when factoring in living costs. Huntsville is home to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command. Not surprisingly, the city hosts its fair share of aerospace engineering jobs, but it also boasts 5,920 software developer jobs. Huntsville has a vibrant STEM community, anchored by Cummings Research Park, the second largest science and engineering research park in America. 


Methodology & full results

Salary and employment statistics for U.S. metropolitan areas are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics. The mean software developer salary in each location was calculated as the weighted average of the annual salaries for both Software Developers, Applications and Software Developers, Systems Software. The total number of software developer jobs in each area is the total employment across these two occupations. 


Cost-of-living adjusted salaries were calculated using the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Price Parity dataset. Median home price data for each metropolitan area is from the Zillow Home Price Index. Only the largest 100 metros by software developer employment were included in the analysis. For a complete list of results for all 100 metros, visit the original version on HeyTutor.

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