5 Great Places to Work Outside of Silicon Valley

by Mary Ellen Slayter

You’ve almost certainly seen those lists of the hottest jobs, so you know that they often have a common entrant: software engineer. This ongoing strong demand is reflected in software engineers’ paychecks, which is good news for computer science students in LSU’s College of Engineering.

As that report notes, Silicon Valley leads the way in terms of unadjusted dollar figures for software engineer salaries ($134,000). But not everyone wants to live in Silicon Valley, especially given the high cost of living in San Francisco and much of the Bay Area. If you’re among those who want to be a part of the tech world but not in that specific corner of it, we’re happy to report that there are a number of spots where you can land — and where you’ll have even more bang for your buck.

Here’s a recap of five tech-job hotbeds where the cost-of-living-adjusted average salary for software engineers would put your spending power well ahead of the market-leading average salary in San Francisco.

Austin, Texas

Average pay: $110,000

Cost-of-living-adjusted pay: $198,000’s adjusted-pay leader is also the closest tech hot spot to Baton Rouge — about a seven-hour drive. You’re probably familiar with the city’s music and tech-friendly reputation, including the sprawling annual South by Southwest festival. Austin is home to old-school tech operations like IBM and Dell, plus countless startups, including and Tenfold.


Average pay: $112,000

Cost-of-living-adjusted pay: $181,000

The Mile High City offers some mile-high adjusted pay, as well. The major tech players in the area include Lockheed Martin, Oracle and Level 3, but there’s a number of startups. Nearby Boulder, home of the University of Colorado, has been home to a significant number of medical technology firms.


Average pay: $126,000

Cost-of-living-adjusted pay: $180,000

Seattle certainly has its share of tech giants, including Microsoft, Amazon and F5 Networks, but it also has a big startup culture that includes companies like DocuSign and Moz. And there’s all the coffee (and coffee shops) you could ever want.

San Diego/Los Angeles

Average pay for San Diego: $112,000

Cost-of-living-adjusted pay San Diego: $179,000

Average pay for Los Angeles: $117,000

Cost-of-living-adjusted pay for Los Angeles: $174,000

These two Southern California metropolises are right next to each other on the map and in the pay-adjusted list, so it makes sense to group them together. L.A. is home to marquee tech names like SpaceX and Hulu, while San Diego has GoPro and Qualcomm, plus a large biotech sector that’s centered around the Scripps Research Institute.


Average pay: $108,000

Cost-of-living-adjusted pay: $169,000

While the “Second City” certainly has an industrial, blue-collar history, it’s a solid member of the Internet Age. Groupon and are based here, and so are Gogo Inflight Internet and more tech startups than you can count.

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