What You Need to Know About Tech Jobs and What They Pay

There are 6,513,236 tech industry jobs in the US, provided by some 452,303 companies. The tech industry's payroll is a nice $654 billion, with the average wage clocking in at $100,355, compared to a $49,611 average private sector wage overall.

That's just some of the data in a recently released report from CompTIA, called Cyberstates 2015: The Definitive State-by-State Analysis of the U.S. Tech Industry (registration required).

A National Growth Story

Tech is a significant force in the national economy, according to Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO, CompTIA. "The tech industry accounts for 7.1 percent of the overall US GDP and 11.4 percent of the total US private sector payroll," he said. "With annual average wages that are more than double that of the private sector, we should be doing all we can to encourage the growth and vitality of our nation's tech industry."

The tech industry employment grew at the same rate as the overall private sector, 2 percent, between 2013 and 2014, according to the report. Growth was led by the IT services sector, which added 63,300 jobs between 2013 and 2014 and the R&D, testing and engineering services sector, which added 50,700 jobs.

One metric the report examined was tech job postings; these showed a year-over-year jump of more than 11 percent for technology occupations, with over 650,000 job openings in fourth quarter of 2014.

That said, workers with these skill want to focus on the markets that can best nurture their careers and provide them with the heftiest paychecks.

According to the Cyberstates report, 38 states had an overall net increase of tech industry employment in 2014. The largest gains were in California (up 32,900), Texas (up 20,100), Florida (up 12,500), Massachusetts (up 8,700) and Michigan (up 8,100).

The states with the highest concentration of workers were Massachusetts (9.8 percent of private sector employment), Virginia (9.4 percent), Colorado (9.2 percent), Maryland (8.6 percent) and Washington (8.4 percent). The largest states by tech industry employment continue to be California, Texas and New York.

Localizing the data even more, the report singled out the growing number of tech clusters through the US and how they are developing specific expertise.

Here too, not surprisingly, California was the leading state, home to 12 of the 16 technology industry clusters.

However, the state of Washington leads the nation in software publishers employment and Texas is top in tech wholesalers and repair services, Skip Newberry, president of the Technology Association of Oregon and vice chairman of the Technology Councils of North America, noted. Oregon and Arizona have strong clusters in semiconductors, while Virginia has one in computer systems design. Massachusetts is a serious powerhouse in R&D and testing labs.

Ultimately, "the US tech industry spans the country from coast to coast," Newberry said.

Who Pays the Best?

The best paying jobs, however, tend to be focused in the top states typically associated with technology.

CompTIA found that the states with the highest average salaries for tech jobs are in California ($139,500), Massachusetts ($121,000) and Washington ($119,300).

But job seekers, especially those with a heavy does of science, technology, engineering or math -- aka STEM -- expertise may want to tap multiple data sources for their research as they go to negotiate their salaries.

A separate study by SmartAsset released around the same time as CompTIA's study finds that the Mid-Atlantic is the best place to secure the highest-pay job.

This study, which used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, identified the average pay for 40 different STEM professions in over 400 US cities. The study looked at a wider range of fields than CompTIA's tech-heavy analysis. SmartAsset examined jobs from computer programming to nuclear engineering to wildlife biology.

It found that math and engineering jobs pay more than tech and that while many of the most high-profile STEM successes in recent years have from such high-profile companies as Facebook and Google, "in general math and engineering professionals continue to earn more than programmers and software developers."

Statisticians, mathematicians and nuclear engineers' clock in at over $130,000 on average in many of the top cities.

And surprisingly, the Bethesda-Rockville, Frederick, MD area beats out Silicon Valley for this talent, offering $100,787 versus $100,324. Washington, D.C. follows with $98,618.

Title image from Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain.