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The 5 Best Cities to Start a Career

Topics: Data & Research

If you’re just getting started with your career, you have a lot of decisions to make. The process of deciding what you’d like to do and how to do it can be tricky. It’s important to keep in mind throughout this process that not all areas of the country are the same when it comes to starting a career. For this reason, the folks at WalletHub recently released a new report that analyzes, across 17 metrics, the best and worst cities to start a career among the 150 most populated cities in the United States. Let’s take a look at the five cities that topped the list.

Salt Lake City

(Photo Credit: CountyLemonade/Flickr)

1. Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Salt Lake City topped the list as the best city in the U.S. to start a career for many reasons. It received the highest score for “professional opportunities,” indicating that this city has a good number of entry-level jobs, a strong median starting salary, and a growing economy. The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics related to the city’s economy indicates the same. The unemployment rate in Salt Lake City is just 3.6 percent, for example, compared with the nation’s 5 percent.

2. Denver, Colorado.

The “Mile-High City” of Denver, Colorado is also a great place to launch a career. It came in third in overall professional opportunities, and its overall score of 65.27 was just a few point shy of Salt Lake’s 69.56. If this area is appealing to you (it has so much to offer), you might want to consider launching your career in Denver.

3. Austin, Texas.

Austin, Texas has scored high on other reports from WalletHub in the recent past. It came in at the same position, third, for best cities to find a job in 2016. Also, it was ranked 22nd for the best cities for families in 2015, which was largely due to a high education and child-care ranking – Austin came in 8th – something that wasn’t factored into this recent report. There’s a lot to be said for moving to this city, regardless of which stage you find yourself in professionally.

4. Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Sioux Falls ranked as one of the best cities to launch a career for good reason. The economy of the city has diversified considerably in the last few decades; it boasts a low unemployment rate, steady job growth, and a low cost of living in comparison with the national average.

5. Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The city of Minneapolis didn’t find its way to the top of this list just because of the economy. It’s also a great place for young professionals because it’s a young city. It came in fifth for “highest percentage of the population between 24 and 34,” just behind notoriously young cities like Boston and San Francisco. If the Midwest is your home, or if you’re drawn to this area for another reason, Minneapolis might be a great place to lay down some roots.

For more information, be sure to check out WalletHub’s complete list of 2016’s Best & Worst Cities to Start a Career. Additionally, once you’ve landed that new job, be sure to take a few minutes with PayScale’s Salary Survey to help you find out what folks like you are paid, which could help you during negotiations. (See PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide to help get ready for that.)

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Austin should NOT be on the list for high-tech jobs at all. I have lived in Austin for 20 years and work in high-tech. I recently spent EIGHT months, yes … EIGHT months, trying to find a new job after being part of a downsizing. I have outstanding experience and could not believe that it took me so long to find something. Many times, I would get information about a new job through a phone call from a recruiter or… Read more »


In reference to the comments offered from “Curious” of 2 June… Insightful. Being a Baby Boomer and successful I completely agree. You do not get a very good baseline in work knowledge from colleges but do acquire that success through OJT and pacesetting and mentoring from the more experienced (older) employee. I match my younger employee to a much older and well experienced individual. I find college graduates ill prepared “to work” but they most often will succeed if they… Read more »




What does “highest percentage of the population between 24 and 34” have to do with anything. If you are a young person, why would you want to compete with other young people willing to work for cheap to gain experience? I would advise younger workers to seek areas where the work force is baby boomers that are “aging out” of the workplace. Companies have already budgeted for their higher salaries and a young person can be the wunderkind that “wows”… Read more »

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