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Smaller tech hubs like Pittsburgh are driving salary growth

Dice's 2022 Tech Salary Report lists Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Philly among the cities with the fastest-growing salary rates in the tech industry. Plus, which skills translate to the highest pay?

Software engineers at work. (Photo by Flickr user WOCinTech Chat, used via a Creative Commons license)
What salary can technologists expect to fetch these days? Depends on where they’re based.

Tech hiring platform Dice just released its 2022 Tech Salary Report, detailing the average tech incomes nationally, and highlighting the top-salaried and fastest-growing markets across the country.

But this year’s is different: For the first time in the 17 years that Dice has issued the report, 2021 is the first year to have an average salary of six figures, breaking previous records at $104,566 — a 6.9% increase from 2020. The findings are based on data collected from over 7,200 technologists surveyed by Dice.

Where do tech high earners live?

While the stalwart Silicon Valley is still the market with the highest salaries in the last year at an average of $133,024 per year, other regions across the country are rising, too, with a total of 17 markets reporting salaries above six figures in 2021. The persistence of such established tech hubs might seem surprising to those who expected the pandemic to create a more distributed workforce, the report noted, but that assumption neglects the fact that tech hubs are tech hubs for more than just the companies located there.

“Tech demand and higher tech salaries don’t emerge in a vacuum; all of these smaller hubs have well-established business and academic communities, driving a need for technologists with all kinds of skill sets,” the report stated. “With tech unemployment notably low across the nation, organizations everywhere are willing to pay more for talent with the right combination of skills and experience.”

The record-breaking salary average of 2021 comes after a surge in tech hiring as the need for technical skills grew with the onset of remote work, and the benefits of working from home during a pandemic made career transitions more appealing to those without previous tech experience. That, paired with inflation and other economic trends driving salaries and prices up, are most likely what led to this dramatic increase.

While overall salaries are up in tech, smaller hubs are leading the way in growth rates. Among the fastest growing tech hubs by salary are Atlanta, Chicago, Miami and Philadelphia.

Also on the list were Pittsburgh, Tampa and Portland, though the report noted that the sample size for these cities had less than 100 respondents, and could not be considered statistically valid. Still, other reports this year, including the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s annual State of the Industry, suggest that Pittsburgh’s place in the top 10 is at least somewhat accurate.

Dice's 2022 Tech Salary Report

Fastest Growing Tech Hubs by Salary. (Image via report)

What tech skills translate to the highest salaries?

Dice also asked technologists to specify what their exact job titles and technical skills are. Unsurprisingly, the role topping the list of salaries at an average of $151,983 was IT management CEO, CIO, CTO, VP or director. But coming in close behind were various systems design roles, including systems architect, cloud architect or engineer, cybersecurity architect or engineer and data architect.

Even lower-level roles like software developer, UX designer, data engineer and web developer made the top 20. Web developer was the job title with the fastest growing salary by far, suggesting an increased need for even basic technical skills in the industry.

As expected, the report found that those with more specialized technical skills will attract higher salaries, largely because there are fewer people with those capabilities. Though learning these skills are probably the most challenging way to pursue a higher salary in a tech career, the top earning ones can point to the future of the industry’s needs.

Dice found that Solr, Mokito, Service Oriented Architecture, RabbitMQ and Elasticsearch were the top five highest-paid technical skills, though some had sample sizes that were not statistically valid.

Dice's 2022 Tech Salary Report

Fastest Growing Salaries by Occupation. (Image via report)

How satisfied are tech workers with their salaries?

During a time dubbed the Great Resignation, employees are increasingly quitting their jobs to either take a break or look for better opportunities, often demanding higher pay, flexibility and benefits. While the tech industry isn’t leading that trend as much as those of service and hospitality, the report found that the sentiment is still present.

A notable 47.8% of respondents reported that they felt underpaid, despite 61% reporting an income increase over the last year. However, those who reported being very dissatisfied or somewhat dissatisfied with their salaries in tech actually decreased to about 10% of respondents as opposed to 30% in 2020.

Compare this to a 2021 survey from Pittsburgh’s Code & Supply that includes a breakdown of salary satisfaction by gender.

Read the report Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
Companies: Dice

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