Whoooo-hooo! Silicon Valley companies pay their tech workers more than anywhere else in the world, with the average engineer in San Francisco pulling down US $145,000 last year, according to Hired’s annual report on the state of engineering salaries. And, according to Hired, Bay Area salaries are up over last year, by two percent. That’s something for tech professionals in the area to cheer about, yes?
Not exactly. That two percent just keeps tech workers even with the U.S. rate of inflation but puts them behind local increases in the cost of living, which is 4 percent as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for April 2018 through April 2019. And salaries in other tech heavy areas are growing faster, at 9 percent in Boston and Toronto, 8 percent in Paris, and 6 percent in Austin and Washington, D.C., according to the report. Hired gathered this data by looking at interview requests and job offers going out to some 98,000 job seekers during the year.
Hired then recalculated its 2018 average salaries adjusting for the cost of living. By that metric, Austin workers are the big winners; a San Francisco tech professional would have to make $208,000 annually to have an equivalent local buying power to Austin’s $125,000 average salary.
Engineering professionals seem to be taking note of this. When asked where they would like to locate, respondents to a Hired survey of 1,800 technology professionals put Austin on top, followed by Seattle and Amsterdam. Los Angeles came in number four, though, interestingly, it was number one on the list for tech workers currently living in London.
Opportunities for relocation, of course, can depend on local demand for specific skills. Hired reported that the top software engineering roles in the San Francisco Bay Area involve search, security, and blockchain. For New York, the top three areas that Hired identified were gaming, blockchain, and backend; for Toronto, natural language processing, machine learning, and blockchain; for London, embedded systems, blockchain, and data; and for Paris, blockchain, machine learning, and data.
So, it seems, blockchain experts can dream of living just about anywhere, while engineers specializing in search might not want to stray too far from Google’s Silicon Valley campus.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.