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5 Best Cities for STEM Professionals

technology, future, jobs
The future of tech and how the Digital Industrial Economy will change business. / Credit: Circuit board image via Shutterstock

The future is all about technology, or at least that's where the salaries are. STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – has been a growing field in the United States for the last decade. From 2009 to 2015, STEM professions grew at more than twice the rate of other professions, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study.

As growing demand for math and technology jobs comes to fruition, a few cities have emerged as the best places for STEM professionals. These cities house a wide range of job opportunities for a career field that offers an average annual salary of $87,570, which is nearly double the national average.

WalletHub, a financial website that provides free credit reports, credit monitoring and industry analysis, researched 100 metropolitan areas in the U.S. to determine which cities were the most STEM friendly. It analyzed professional opportunities, STEM-friendliness and quality of life to determine the best STEM cities in 2018.

Seattle is the No. 1 city in America for STEM jobs, according to WalletHub. This should come as no surprise, as tech giants like Amazon, T-Mobile, and Microsoft all have major headquarters in and around the city. Income levels also follow suit with U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' study: The median household income in 2016 was about $80,000 – almost $20,000 more than the national household median income for that year.

Seattle is also a pretty expensive place to live. Expatistan, an organization that monitors and ranks cost of living figures around the world, ranked Seattle as the 11th most expensive city in the U.S. Monthly rent for a 900-square-foot apartment in a "normal area" costs around $2,000 per month, for example. Despite these higher costs, Seattle offers a lot of opportunities for STEM professionals.

Boston ranked No. 1 in the "STEM-Friendliness" rank of WalletHub's study. The city offers a range of STEM jobs. Technology companies like Kronos, a workforce management company, and Accenture, a digital consulting company, are among the top five employers, according to the Boston Globe. The Globe also reported that pharmaceutical and biotech companies like Vertex Pharmaceuticals and EMD Serono and Millipore Sigma are among the top 25 employers in the greater Boston area, making it an ideal destination for STEM professionals working not specifically in technology.

Median household income in Boston was roughly $82,000 in 2016. The city's cost of living follows suit with its median income. Expatistan ranks Boston as the 9th most expensive city in the U.S., with monthly apartment rent totaling more than $2,000.

Pittsburgh is a great option for STEM professionals looking to further their careers without breaking the bank. The city ranked significantly below Seattle and Boston at 34 on Expatistan's most expensive U.S. cities list.

Monthly rent for a "normal" 900-square-foot furnished apartment is $931 per month. STEM jobs opportunities have grown in recent years. Energy and industrial companies like Alcoa, PPG Industries and U.S. Steel all have major operations in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh also houses technology companies like Ansys, a company that develops engineering simulation software.

Pittsburgh's median household income in 2016 was $56,063, which was on par with the national average. Despite its lower median income, Pittsburgh will continue to grow as a major city for STEM professionals.

Austin boasts several major tech employers: Apple, Google, Facebook, Cisco Systems, IBM, Intel, Samsung and Oracle all have offices in the greater Austin area. Dell is also a major employer, so STEM professionals will have no shortage of opportunities from a technology standpoint. Median household income in Austin is around $71,000, and Austin ranks 31st on Expatistan's most expensive cities list.

Monthly rent for a 900-square-foot furnished apartment is roughly $1,346, making it a bit more expensive than Pittsburgh but still significantly below housing options in Boston and Seattle. Austin, like Pittsburgh, is growing rapidly, and as it continues to grow, more STEM opportunities will likely arise.

Minneapolis managed to crack the top five best cities for STEM jobs. While this may come as a surprise, Minneapolis offers a multitude of STEM jobs and ranks the lowest of the top five on Expatistan's most expensive cities list. The median household income in Minneapolis in 2016 was $73,231, which is significantly above the $57,000 national median. Cost of living, however, is significantly lower than other cities in the top five – average monthly rent for a 900-square-foot apartment is around $931 per month.

There's no shortage of job opportunities for STEM professionals either. Companies like United Health Group, Target and Cargill all are major employers in the region. Minneapolis may be among the best value cities for STEM professionals to move to.

Matt D'Angelo

Matt D'Angelo is a B2B Tech Staff Writer based in New York City. After graduating from James Madison University with a degree in Journalism, Matt gained experience as a copy editor and writer for newspapers and various online publications. Matt joined the Purch team in 2017 and covers technology for Business.com and Business News Daily. Follow him on Twitter or email him.