Silicon Valley is the epicenter of the tech world, but that doesn’t mean you have to relocate to the West Coast to be in the middle of the action.
Today, tech hotspots are blossoming in every corner of the country. North, east, south, and west, wherever you are based, chances are high that there is a growing tech scene nearby. In fact, Hadi Partovi, CEO of Code.org, points out that more than 90 percent of coding and computing jobs are outside of Silicon Valley.
Even experienced developers who have built their careers in Silicon Valley are taking the opportunity to move to new pastures thanks to the abundance of opportunities in these fast-growing tech hubs.
If you’re not sold on Silicon Valley or don’t want to uproot your family after completing your remote coding education, consider a career in one of these tech hotspots instead.
The Great Plains states of Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas are home to some of the country’s most innovative tech companies, including Dwolla, FlyWheel, and CoverMyMeds.
One company that has witnessed the rise of Silicon Prairie from the very beginning is sports performance analysis service Hudl. The company, based in Lincoln, Nebraska, has grown from three employees in 2006 to more than 400 employees today. One of the reasons for Hudl’s success, according to cofounder David Graff, is the University of Nebraska system and the supportive community it creates for entrepreneurs in the area.
For AIM systems engineer Jon Larsen, Silicon Prairie has a few advantages over other tech hubs. The low cost of living is a huge bonus, but Larsen points out that cutting out the commute is also a plus—you can get anywhere in Omaha in 30 minutes.
Silicon Prairie salaries go further, too. The cost of living here is about a third of what it is on the West Coast.
To be clear, the Silicon Prairie is not the next Silicon Valley. It doesn’t want to be, either. Rick Knudtson, cofounder of FlyWheel, explains that unlike your typical venture-backed Silicon Valley startups, Silicon Prairie companies tend to produce revenue at a very early stage. The difference in the business model means that while many Silicon Valley startups are spending their venture capital on brand-building and developing large networks, Silicon Prairie startups have to focus on the bottom line from the very beginning. That difference in priorities creates a very different industry culture in Nebraska than what you’d find in the Bay Area.
If you think Silicon Prairie sounds appealing now, it’s future might be even brighter. The higher quality of life is a huge draw, and Midwest states are moving fast to attract the best talent, says Matt Rizai, who in 2008 founded software company Workiva in Iowa. The state offers would-be founders an enticing combination of tax breaks and introductory meetings with angel investors. Two states over, Indiana has established the Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund, through which the state has invested more than $30 million in local startups.
Denver and Boulder, Colorado
The Colorado startup scene has been one of the largest and fastest growing in the country for almost a decade–and the boom is far from over. Colorado’s tech hub still offers plenty of opportunities for young developers.
A recent report by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp, led by Patty Silverstein and Lisa Strunk, found that software and IT employment has grown by 32 percent in Denver over the last five years.
Find the right company, and you’ll open the door to challenging and rewarding opportunities. Take Tendril, a technology solutions platform that helps utility providers, energy companies, and retailers increase energy efficiency. Platform engineer Ben Weisel says that working for the company has provided him with some of the most challenging problems to solve in his career thus far.
Developers will find no shortage of support or community in Colorado, either. Erik Mitisek, Colorado’s chief technology officer, says the Denver-Boulder area sees 100-plus tech meetups each month. “You’re starting to see a lot more mature aspects of an innovation economy that are not only allowing startups to grow, but are attracting the energy of outsiders as well,” Mitisek tells the Denver Post.
This is all translating to a jobs market that rewards talented programmers both financially and with opportunities for career growth. “The market is demanding more seniority and niche skill sets, and salaries are on the rise in the Denver market, catching up to those already highly established markets like San Francisco and NYC,” says Gianna Scorsone at tech recruitment company Mondo.
Research Triangle, North Carolina
This tech region, encompassing Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is rich in opportunities. In 2017 alone, tech companies in Research Triangle Park raised more than $1 billion in funding, according to Durham’s Council for Entrepreneurial Development.
Part of the reason for this is the huge number of incubators operating in the area. Take the city of Durham, whose roster of incubators includes Joystick Labs, Launchbox Digital, Bull City Forward, and Durham Coworking.
As Laura Rich at Fast Company reports, Durham offers entrepreneurs and young developers a lot of support. But it’s also a fantastic place to network, as it’s small enough for entrepreneurs to get connected to anyone and everyone.
Opportunities aren’t limited to startups and entrepreneurs, though. The N.C. Tech Association reports that job openings for software developers have increased by 34.2 percent since 2017. The report also shows that developers will be able to build careers in a diverse range of companies. Among the top hiring companies were Oracle, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Deloitte, Lowe’s, and Cisco.
Austin’s tech scene has grown rapidly over the last decade and now offers everything that tech companies need to succeed. According to Innovate Austin, the city boasts 75 incubators, accelerators, maker spaces, and coworking spaces. Further, it’s home to around 6,500 tech companies.
Much like North Carolina’s Research Triangle, Austin offers young developers a career at every type of tech company imaginable. Apple, Dell, and Google all have campuses here. Smaller established tech companies like WP Engine, Indeed, BigCommerce, Bumble, and Buzzstream are also headquartered here.
Austin’s culture also encourages established companies to relocate to the Texas capital. Companies like CCC, a cloud and telematics technology company, are drawn to Austin because of the city’s spirit and the local talent pool, says Reza Rooholamini, chief architect and VP of research and development and data sciences.
As native tech companies grow and even more firms move into Austin, the number of openings for developers at established companies has naturally increased. In 2017, the city’s biggest 100 tech companies together added 7,000 total developers to their workforce, an increase of 11 percent, according to Kelly O’Halloran at Built In Austin. That included 290 new hires at Facebook, 300 at Indeed, and 452 at Amazon.
Bottom line: Don’t let your location stop you from pursuing a career in software development. Great tech jobs can be found across the country. As long as you have the right education, a passion for programming, and a hunger for continuous learning, you’ll be able to build a stellar career wherever you live.