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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

New York City and northern California aren't the only places that offer young professionals a great location to jump-start their careers, new research finds.

Houston tops this year's rankings from Bankrate.com as the best city to launch a career. Houston heads the rankings for its large population of 22- to 26–year-olds, its high median salary, $43,500, for young professionals and its affordable rent.

"Many eager new grads think they have to head to New York or Silicon Valley to make it big," said Sarah Berger, The Cashlorette at Bankrate.com, in a statement. "There are plenty of cities that offer solid job markets and long-term career growth without breaking the bank or sacrificing a good quality of life."

For the study, researchers reviewed the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S. based on several factors a young person should consider when starting their career, including the job market, potential for long-term career-building, affordability and lifestyle for recent college graduates. [Just getting your career started? Here the most popular jobs for new grads]

Houston and Minneapolis-St. Paul, the second best city on this year's list, replaced last year's top two of New York City and Los Angeles. While New York City dropped to eighth place on this year's rankings, Los Angeles dropped out of the top 10 altogether. Neither Houston or Minneapolis, where 88 percent of the population between the ages of 22 and 26 are employed, were ranked in the last year's top 10.

Based on Bankrate's research, this year's 10 best cities to launch a career are:

  1. Houston, Texas
  2. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
  3. Washington D.C.
  4. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  5. Dallas, Texas
  6. Columbus, Ohio
  7. San Jose, California
  8. New York City, New York
  9. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  10. San Francisco, California

While the weather might be fantastic in Florida, those looking to have a successful start to their careers might want to look elsewhere for a job. The study found that the four largest cities in the Sunshine State – Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa and Orlando – are among the worst cities to launch a career.

The 10 worst cities on this year's list to start a career are:

  1. San Bernardino, California
  2. Miami, Florida
  3. Sacramento, California
  4. Memphis, Tennessee
  5. Tampa, Florida
  6. Orlando, Florida
  7. Jacksonville, Florida
  8. Portland, Oregon
  9. New Orleans, Louisiana
  10. Norfolk Virginia

A low ranking, however, doesn't necessarily mean a young worker has to avoid a certain city, said Claes Bell, a banking analyst at Bankrate.com. 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.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer with more than 20 years of media experience. A graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff as a senior writer. Currently, Chad covers a wide range of B2B products and services, including business phone systems, time and attendance systems, payroll services, and conference call services. Before joining Business News Daily and business.com, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago. Chad's first book, "How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business," was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.