10 Best Cities for Software Engineers

Updated June 24, 2022

If you're interested in a career as a software engineer, it's important to consider not only the company you want to work for, but also where it's located. As with any career, the city and state you live in can influence your salary and opportunities for advancement. Knowing the best cities to work in as a software engineer, in particular, can help narrow down your job search and help you find a job more easily. In this article, we define the role of a software engineer, list 10 of the best cities for this profession and provide you with tips for getting a job in this field.

Related: How to Become a Software Engineer

What is a software engineer?

Software engineers use their computer science, engineering and programming language knowledge to develop products such as operating systems and business applications. They work with software users to determine their needs and create systems or applications according to their preferences. Software engineers also maintain these products to ensure their functionality and recommend upgrades for existing products.

Software engineers make an average salary of $108,278 per year. This figure can fluctuate depending on your managerial experience and skill level. Software engineers can also receive up to a $4,000 cash bonus in a year, though this depends on your employer.

Related: Learn About Being a Software Engineer

Best cities for software engineers

Before you determine the company you want to work for, it's important to consider where you can find the most lucrative career as a software engineer. Three factors that can help determine the best cities for this career are a state's average salary for this role, a state's location quotient and the top-rated software engineering companies in each state. Here is a look at each of these factors:

Average salary

For this article's purposes, this is the central wage that's common for a software engineering position in a given state.

Location quotient

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the location quotient is a measurement of an industry's concentration in one area of the U.S. compared to its concentration to the nation as a whole. If the location quotient is less than one, it indicates that the profession isn't as common in the area as opposed to the national average.

A location quotient greater than one means the profession has a higher amount of employment than the national average in that particular city. The location quotient used for this data comes from the software developer and systems software industry.

Top-rated companies

These are the highest-rated companies in a given state according to Indeed's company reviews.

Here is a list of 10 the best cities for software engineers as determined by a state's average salary for this profession, its location quotient and some of its top-rated companies:

  1. Dallas, Texas

  2. Atlanta, Georgia

  3. Colorado Springs, Colorado

  4. Austin, Texas

  5. Denver, Colorado

  6. Boston, Massachusetts

  7. Seattle, Washington

  8. New York, New York

  9. San Jose, California

  10. San Francisco, California

1. Dallas, Texas

Average salary: $102,352 per year

Location quotient: 1.19

Top-rated companies: Goldman Sachs, BayInfotech, Southwest Airlines

Despite being known for its cultural activities, Dallas has become a business hub over the years. With a population of 1.341 million, this modern metropolis is home to several technology businesses and headquarters. The influx of software opportunities has given rise to the city's recent technology boom.

2. Atlanta, Georgia

Average salary: $106,522 per year

Location quotient: 1.47

Top-rated companies: VMware, Turner, Accenture

Not only is this southern city home to many top educational institutes, but it's also evolved into one of the best places to start or advance your career as a software engineer. This is because Atlanta has had a recent rise in technology companies, creating an information technology cluster in the nation.

3. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Average salary: $108,253 per year

Location quotient: 2.85

Top-rated companies: Boecore, Lockheed Martin, Boeing

Just 70.5 miles away from Denver, Colorado Springs is home to many large employers such as Oracle and Hewlett Packard. The city has a highly-skilled workforce and a building technology environment. Some of its tech contributions include cybersecurity, information technology and high-tech military installation companies.

4. Austin, Texas

Average salary: $111,045 per year

Location quotient: 2.65

Top-rated companies: General Motors, Charles Schwab, Apple

This eclectic city is home to many technology companies such as Home Depot and iHeartMedia. High-tech companies in the area have even earned the nickname "Silicon Hills", a nod to California's Silicon Valley. Austin houses a variety of tech companies dealing with biotechnology, video games, startups and more.

5. Denver, Colorado

Average salary: $121,215 per year

Location quotient: 1.75

Top-rated companies: FluentStream, Lockheed Martin, Amazon.com

Though Denver doesn't boast the highest salary for software engineers throughout the state, when it's adjusted for cost of living, the average salary for a software engineering profession is rather lucrative. Denver, Colorado, is home to many information technology companies and the city itself has reasonable prices for an array of expenses including housing, groceries and transportation.

6. Boston, Massachusetts

Average salary: $126,090 per year

Location quotient: 3.22

Top-rated companies: Boston Children's Hospital, Bose, Fidelity Investments

The city of Boston boasts talent, momentum, affordability and many opportunities for software engineers. This has helped it become one of the top tech hubs in the U.S. Much of its inhabitants have college degrees in related fields such as mathematics and science, creating more opportunities for the city to train top talent for the software engineering profession.

7. Seattle, Washington

Average salary: $128,889 per year

Location quotient: 2.67

Top-rated companies: Starbucks, Nordstrom, The Walt Disney Company

Despite not always being known as a tech hub, this rainy city now boasts several advantages for software engineers. Not only does it provide several employment opportunities for this profession, but it also has a reasonable cost of living and a stable tech environment that's non-reliant on startups. Also, it's home to large tech corporations, retail giants and e-commerce companies, creating a diverse portfolio for its bustling technology sector.

8. New York, New York

Average salary: $140,085 per year

Location quotient: 0.76

Top-rated companies: Capital One, Mastercard, Google

New York City provides you with ample opportunities to grow in the software field in a fast-paced environment. The Empire State is a leader in the tech industry thanks to its tech companies, startups and its contribution to the nation's economy overall. Also, it encourages diversity and has many educational institutions that offer a computer science education which helps it attain top talent for this field.

9. San Jose, California

Average salary: $147,113 per year

Location quotient: 9.03

Top-rated companies: Cisco, Qualcomm, Brocade

San Jose is home to a plethora of tech jobs, providing you with several opportunities to expand your skillset and gain valuable experience. Though the city's location quotient is higher than others on this list, San Jose boasts a large salary for software engineers compared to other U.S. cities. It's important to keep in mind that even with its higher average salary, the cost of living in San Jose is high compared to many cities across the U.S. If that isn't a deterrent, this Bay Area location is great to grow in your career as a software engineer.

10. San Francisco, California

Average salary: $154,302 per year

Location quotient: 2.52

Top-rated companies: Salesforce, Twitter, Twitch

Near Silicon Valley, San Francisco is a renowned technology hub in the U.S. Though you can expect a higher salary, the California metropolis' cost of living is on the steeper end. If you don't mind the higher price tags in terms of rent and other expenses, the home of the Golden Gate Bridge is a great place to advance in your career as a software engineer.

Software engineer tips

To become a successful software engineer, it's important to consider suggestions that can help your career trajectory and advancement. Here are some tips to consider as you begin your career in this field:

Focus on a specialty

Though the tech industry is large, it's important to find an area that interests you most. For example, consider specializing in application design as opposed to just application development. Though it's useful to understand both frontend and backend development, each involves a great deal of domain knowledge. Mastering one area can help you more easily advance in this field of study.

Stay up-to-date

Throughout your career, remember to continue learning. Expand your skills and expertise by taking on new projects, technologies or by taking a programming course. With a changing job market, it's wise to adapt your skills to fit the current industry needs. Along with mastering your current skill set, consider gaining new experience to add to your resume and portfolio to stay marketable.

Learn soft skills

While there are several hard skills to learn as a software engineer, it's also important to sharpen your softer skills. This includes a variety of skills such as empathy, communication and interpersonal skills which can help you better interact with your coworkers, clients and teammates.

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