Where the grass is greener

ITworld.com –

Thirty-one percent of the members of techies.com, an online job site for information systems workers, recently said they would be willing to relocate. While moving to the tropics or the city of one's dreams is alluring, respondents indicated that when deciding whether to move, the prospect of a better job opportunity is the overriding factor.

A survey by the American Management Association found that 29 percent of managers relocated during the 1990s -- including 19 percent of those who did not change organizations. Relocation within an organization is the kind of thing you can't always predict.

Whether you choose to relocate or have relocation foisted upon you, your new city may have a great impact on your career. Some cities have more technology jobs than others, and they aren't all in the Sun Belt.

Software-development hot spots

If you are considering a move to another US city, Silicon Valley is not your only option. A recent study by the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) found that IT jobs related to programming, engineering, systems analysis, and tech support have spread from sea to shining sea.

 

Rank

Metro Area

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Density
(US average 100)

  1
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Boulder-Longmont (Colo.)

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416
  2
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San Jose (Calif.)

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397

  3
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Washington, D.C. / Md. / Va. / W.V.

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307
  4
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Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill (N.C.)

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283
  5
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Huntsville (Ala.)

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259
  6
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Colorado Springs (Colo.)

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251
  7
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San Francisco

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231
  8
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Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon (N.J.)

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225
  9
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Boston, Mass. / N.H.

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223
  10

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Austin, San Marcos (Texas)

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223

California has long represented a kind of one-stop shopping source for high-tech jobs, but no longer dominates the list of cities offering an abundance of software-related jobs. Pockets of software development have sprung up all over the nation, due largely to the dot-com explosion that is firing many regional startups.

The SIIA study ranks cities by software-development density (number of software-occupation employees divided by population.) The results may surprise you -- only two California cities are in the top 10, and New York isn't even in the top 25. This survey is biased towards cities with lower populations, since software-development jobs will never compete proportionately with the thousands of other jobs found in cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Yet, several sizable cities made the list, including Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Boston.

Another shortcoming of the survey is that it was released in June, but its data are from 1998. This may account for its failure to reflect the recent explosive growth of several dot-com locales, particularly New York City and southern Florida.

Nonetheless, the study offers hope to those considering relocation to further their IT careers. Apparently, you can bang the keys for profit and pleasure just as productively in Colorado as you can in the Southwest or mid-Atlantic. The top three cities are Boulder/Longmont, Colo., San Jose, Calif., and Washington, D.C. (See the chart for the states with the most cities in the top 25.

States with the most cities in the top 25:

 

State

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No. Cities in Top 25

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Cities (Rank)

 

Colorado

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4
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Boulder-Longmont (1)
Colorado Springs (6)
Denver (11)
Fort Collins-Loveland (20)
 

California

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2
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San Jose (2)
San Francisco (7)

 

New Jersey

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2
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Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon (8)
Trenton (21)
 

Texas

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2
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Austin-San Marcos (10)
Dallas (12)

While making the best career move may be your first goal, a choice of several cities and regions expands your lifestyle options. If you don't want to raise your children in a big city, there are many smaller communities on this list. If you want to be closer to the mountains, ice fish in the winter, be near a college community, or do a little cow poking on weekends, there is a city or region with high-tech jobs for you.

SIIA rankings of metro areas by software employment density, 1998
'Number of employees in software-related jobs divided by population; the density data have been converted to an index number. The US average is set at 100.'

Additional Resources

techies.com Data and Research relocation survey: http://portland.techies.com/Common/Career/200008/Main/Rung080100b_m.jsp

American Management Association Survey -- Career Advancement in the 1990s: http://www.amanet.org/resear ch/pdfs/career_adv_a.pdf

Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) Names Top 25 Metro Areas for Software Employment: http://www.siia.net/press/default.asp

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