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Build Your Career Get the Job

The 10 Best (and Worst) Cities to Start a Career

The 10 Best (and Worst) Cities to Start a Career
Credit: Ditty About Summer/Shutterstock

Bigger appears to be better when deciding where to start your career, new research finds.

Ten of the 25 largest cities in the United States head Bankrate's listing of the best cities to launch a career, including New York City and Los Angeles, which top the list.

The study evaluated 100 U.S. cities based on several factors a young person should consider when starting a career: job prospects, pay potential, quality of life, social opportunities and career advancement.

New York City tops the rankings in part for being the best city for career advancement and social opportunities. It was also highly ranked in terms of pay potential and quality of life. Los Angeles scored highly in the areas of social opportunities, career advancement and quality of life. [See Related Story: Transitioning from College to the Working World: 7 Survival Tips]

"Although young grads will be faced with major competition for available jobs in these top cities, the opportunities for career growth and quality of life among peers far exceed what is offered in less competitive job markets," Claes Bell, a banking analyst at Bankrate.com, said in a statement.

This year's 10 best cities to launch a career in are:

  1. New York City, New York
  2. Los Angeles, California
  3. San Francisco, California
  4. Washington, D.C.
  5. San Jose, California
  6. Boston, Massachusetts
  7. Chicago, Illinois
  8. Seattle, Washington
  9. Dallas, Texas
  10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Although Fayetteville, North Carolina, offers a great quality of life, it ranks as the worst place to start a career, due to its lack of pay potential, job prospects and career-advancement opportunities.

The 10 worst cities to launch a career in this year are:

  1. Fayetteville, North Carolina
  2. Mobile, Alabama
  3. Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas
  4. Jackson, Mississippi
  5. Montgomery, Alabama
  6. Knoxville, Tennessee
  7. Fort Walton Beach, Florida,
  8. Shreveport, Louisiana
  9. Greensboro, North Carolina
  10. Roanoke, Virginia

A low ranking, however, doesn't necessarily mean a young worker should avoid a certain city, Bell said. When starting their careers, young professionals should determine what factors are important to their future and use research to determine what area best suits their needs, Bell said.

"Not everyone is looking to climb to the top of the corporate ladder, so cities that ranked low on our list may be very desirable to some," Bell said.

The study analyzed 100 U.S. cities based on metropolitan statistical areas with populations of above 250,000 and per-capita-GDP levels of above $40,000. The top cities were selected based on an index that captured a total of 18 variables within five groups with equal weightings: job prospects, pay potential, quality of life, social opportunities and career advancement.

Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.