If you’re a software engineer, where you live can determine your salary. For example, engineers who live in major tech hubs such as Silicon Valley and New York City can generally expect local companies to offer pretty hefty compensation; meanwhile, their professional colleagues in smaller towns might pull down significantly less for similar work. Numerous factors impact local pay rates, including the cost of living and the density of companies that require certain tech skills.
Blind, which surveys anonymous technologists on a range of issues, recently broke down how much software engineers in the Midwest can make in salary and overall compensation. Here are the top ten cities:
This isn’t the first time Blind has analyzed software engineer salaries by geography, and if you’ve been following their breakdowns, you’ll note the Midwest pays significantly less than other regions. For example, software engineers along the East Coast can expect average total compensation of around $200,000 if they live in various cities in New York, Connecticut, Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pittsburgh.
In California, meanwhile, software engineers can expect to pull down insane average total compensation in certain towns, including Los Gatos ($500,499), Menlo Park ($328,423), Cupertino ($279,391), and San Bruno ($278,368). The reasons behind this bounty are pretty obvious: these towns host some of tech’s largest companies, including Netflix, Facebook/Meta, and Apple, all of which are famous for outsized paychecks to technologists with the right mix of experience and skills. While not every technologist in the state can expect such hefty compensation, payments at these tech giants skew both the average and median.
Which brings us back to the Midwest. Although compensation is often lower than in other tech hubs, there’s also a reduced cost of living. Although real estate prices have been crazy in recent years, you can still buy a house in the Midwest for the cost of a studio apartment in Manhattan or certain parts of Silicon Valley.
There are also signs that the rise of remote work is shrinking this “geography gap” in pay. “For senior software engineers, the pay gap between the most expensive U.S. cities and the least expensive shrank by two-thirds between 2019 and 2021, according to data from the compensation data provider Pave,” stated a recent breakdown by Protocol. “By the third quarter of last year, the gap between Tier 1 salaries and Tier 3 salaries had narrowed from 18.1 percent to just 5.9 percent.”
That’s potentially great news for any technologist who wants to live in the Midwest (or anywhere else) while earning a big tech salary. But no matter where you live, keep in mind that compensation also hinges on your experience, skills, and company budgets.