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2016’s Best and Worst Metro Areas for STEM Professionals

Topics: Career Advice

Personal finance website WalletHub recently released a report on the best and worst metro areas for STEM professionals, and the results are quite interesting – well, depending on the city in which you currently reside. WalletHub’s analysts took 100 of the most populated metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) across the nation and evaluated each based on 16 metrics that were ranked on a scale from 0 to 100 (0 being the worst and 100 being the best). Here’s what they found.

silicon valley

(Photo Credit: Francesco Crippa/Flickr)

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers are among the most desirable careers to have nowadays, because of their high salaries and solid occupational outlook. In fact, it’s expected that STEM jobs will grow 1.7 times faster than non-STEM professions from 2010 and 2020, according to stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Individuals currently in one of the STEM fields or pursuing an education in STEM will want to take a look at this study. For the same reason college students should look into attending a college that offers them the maximum return on investment for their given degree, professionals should consider which cities offer them the most bang for their buck when it comes to their career trajectory.

WalletHub’s report analyzed 100 of the highest-populated metro areas in the nation across 16 metrics, including: job openings for STEM graduates per 1,000 residents, percentage of all workers in STEM jobs, projected number of STEM jobs needed in 2020, unemployment rates for residents with at least a bachelor’s degree, number of engineering universities in top 100 U.S. News & World Report ranking, and more. Here are the five best and five worst metro areas in the nation for STEM professionals, according to the study.

5 Best Metro Areas for STEM Professionals

1. San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara, CA; Total Score = 62.30

2. Austin – Round Rock, TX; Total Score = 61.44

3. Seattle – Tacoma – Bellevue, WA; Total Score = 59.14

4. Denver – Aurora – Lakewood, CO; Total Score = 55.74

5. Minneapolis – St. Paul – Bloomington, MN-WI; Total Score = 55.73

5 Worst Metro Areas for STEM Professionals

96. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA; Total Score = 30.56

97. Jackson, MS; Total Score = 30.32

98. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL; Total Score = 29.60

99. Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL; Total Score = 28.68

100. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL; Total Score = 28.22

WalletHub’s findings parallel those of PayScale’s Best Cities for Gen Y Jobs report back in August of last year. In PayScale’s analysis, Seattle came in as No. 1 for overall ranking, which was based on metrics such as compensation, benefits offered, commute time, job satisfaction, job stress, management opportunities, and the number of young workers already in the city. San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA came in second on the list, followed by (No. 3) San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA, (No. 4) Austin, TX, and (No. 5) Provo-Orem, UT, respectively. 

(For a complete list of the findings, see PayScale’s infographic.)

Other Noteworthy Highlights from WalletHub’s Study

1. The MSA with the highest per-capita job openings for STEM graduates is Austin, TX, which proved to be 76 times greater than the MSA with the lowest ranking, Deltona, FL.

2. San Jose, CA has the highest percentage of all workers in STEM jobs, which is five times greater than the lowest ranking MSA, McAllen, TX.

3. The unemployment rate for people with at least a bachelor’s degree is greatest in Riverside, CA, which is three times greater than in Des Moines, Iowa, the metro area with the lowest.

4. Housing is most affordable for STEM professionals in Winston-Salem, NC and least affordable in Honolulu, HI.

5. The MSA with the highest quality of engineering universities is (to no one’s surprise) San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA – aka “Silicon Valley.”

Based on the findings, it appears that the West Coast is more favorable for STEM professionals overall than the East Coast, Florida in particular. To see how your city or state ranks, head over to WalletHub to find out. 

Tell Us What You Think

How did your city/state rank on the list and what are your thoughts about it? Share your thoughts with our community on Twitter or in the comments section below.


Leah Arnold-Smeets
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