The economic effects of the last year have created and accelerated career opportunities in some unlikely ways. Many high skilled tech workers are now looking for a career change or seeking to be part of innovative companies in some of the most livable cities in the US. Tech hubs in the Bay Area are losing their appeal to rising “second cities” that have become some of the fastest growing tech cities in the country. CompTIA’s interactive survey of IT professionals found that 78% of tech workers have moved, considered or will consider moving from their current city for a new job, many of whom cite cost of living comparisons as a key factor.
Yet, when thinking of a career change, your peer network is one of the key factors that determines your ability to thrive. The right city can serve as the place to dive into or refine your skills in a technology subsector while naturally enabling you to be part of the right networks. Technology jobs in niche industries are setting the stage for some of the best cities for a good quality of life. But how do you find the places with the networks that will be best for you?
Thinking beyond your first, second and maybe even third job - what region is going to work best for you in the long term? This might depend on which cities are excelling in your tech industry niche. Check out the list below for examples of places where your career can thrive in a specific sub-sector of the tech industry.
Seattle, Washington: Cloud Computing
Columbus, Ohio: Insurance Technology (insurtech)
Atlanta, Georgia: Financial Technology (fintech)
San Francisco, California: Software Development
Los Angeles, California: Creative-Facing Tech
Indianapolis, Indiana: Marketing Tech
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Robotics
Detroit, Michigan: Auto Tech
St. Louis, Missouri: Geospatial Hub
For decades, Smart City Columbus, Ohio has hosted a large number of insurance businesses, including five companies with annual revenues over $500 million and a large downtown presence. However, in the last few years, the emergence of “insurtechs” in Columbus has been apparent. Ultimately, it’s a “digital-first or technology-infused approach to the insurance industry,” according to Midwest + Startups.
A few of the venture-backed, growing insurtech companies in Columbus include:
Root, a tech company that is innovating personal insurance for fair pricing and better customer experiences
Branch, who is leveraging technology and the power of community to reimagine insurance and bundles
Bold Penguin, a business working to make commercial insurance easier with an exchange that connects companies, agencies, and carriers.
Interested in joining one of the many growing insurtech companies in Columbus? Click here to explore more tech jobs in Columbus.
Fintech in Atlanta
If fintech is your fancy, technology jobs in Atlanta are the underrated drivers of the city’s economic growth. The Fintech Atlanta Initiative has made the metro the quiet leader in this space. It is estimated that nearly 70% of all global transactions pass through companies headquartered in metro Atlanta.
Local higher education institutions recognize the potential of this space, as well. Georgia State University is already home to one of the nation’s first fintech labs. The University of Georgia has launched a business degree with a concentration in fintech while Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) is the university’s incubator. The universities are also pushing for inclusivity in STEM, starting at one of the key challenges: addressing gender and racial gaps in talent and skills development. Georgia Tech has the highest number of bachelor’s degrees in engineering awarded to women and African Americans, according to a report by the American Society for Engineering Education.
Over 100 fintech companies call Atlanta home including large companies like Equifax and Global Payments Inc. Here is a list of 23 Atlanta fintech companies that are leading the way for the city’s continued growth in this sector.
Auto Tech in Detroit
Home of the US auto industry for a long time, Detroit now houses more than just General Motors and Ford. Beyond the traditional assembly line factory production that made the Model T, the rise of automation in vehicles and the Internet of Things has created a new niche in auto tech in Michigan. Tech companies focused entirely on the automotive and transportation sector have emerged to create career opportunities that did not exist until just about a decade ago. Even auto tech companies that are located outside of Southeastern Michigan often have research and development activities ongoing in the Detroit area.
A few innovative auto tech companies in Detroit include:
May Mobility, a self-driving mobility startup
Rivian, an EV startup building electric trucks for adventure
Integral, a technology consulting firm specializing in clients in the automotive industry
Guardhat, which has created a safety detection system that collects, delivers and analyzes data for workers or environments in construction, mining, forestry, transportation, utilities and other similar industries.
Autonomic AI, a company Autonomic Transportation Mobility Cloud (TMC) services to connect vehicles and transportation apps
Curious about the future of automotives and looking for a career change? Here’s a list of tech jobs in Detroit.
Robotics in Pittsburgh
Homegrown talent has made Pittsburgh a new home for the robotics industry. Affordable housing, friendly people and a rising quality of life ranking has paved the way for the “Steel City” to turn into “Robotics Row”.
Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute one of the drivers of the growth of this sector. With alumni creating networks and companies in this high-growth niche, the institute has enabled public-private partnerships that have brought and built leaders in this space.
Some of the biggest actors in this space include:
IAM Robotics, a company creating autonomous mobile robots and warehouse automation tools to enhance supply chain efficiency
Aurora Innovation, the autonomous vehicle company founded by the former head of Google’s self-driving car program and the former director of Tesla Autopilot
The Pittsburgh Robotics Network, an association that brings together leaders in tech, business and academia to push for the growth of the robotics sector
GIS and Geospatial Tech in St. Louis
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and geospatial technology help direct everything from your online food delivery order to defense technology and healthcare supplies and services.
When the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency decided to put roots down in St. Louis, it put the city in the unique position of being a global geospatial leader. The field is still emerging with public and private interests. Thus, St. Louis recognized an opportunity for sizable economic growth and embraced the technological moment when competing for the new headquarters.
Organizations leading the growth in this Midwest city include:
ESRI, the global leader in location intelligence and GIS mapping
Geodata IT, a company that works primarily with the US Department of Defense and Intelligence community to create and support cyber frameworks and cloud-based systems
NGA Accelerator, an accelerator founded by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and Missouri Technology Corp. and supported by Capital Innovators to fund early-stage geospatial technology startups.
Build a Network for Growth
One of the drawbacks to increased remote work trends can be the loss of your peer network that contributes to your learning and growth as a professional. Make sure you are looking for a location and company that values peer learning opportunities that allow employees to build their technical skills through collaboration. Not only does it help you build professional skills to advance your career, active and effective peer-to-peer networks allow you to tap into the collective intelligence and wisdom of a wide group of individuals. According to Fast Company, peer-to-peer networks provide a safe space to “test your thinking and ideas, to ask questions with supportive colleagues who are there to help and not to judge.”
Many growing tech hubs in the US are supporting the development and growth of career networks, even with the rise of remote work. Check out the list below for some examples of physical and digital networks:
- Pittsburgh Technology Council
- TechPoint Indy Talent Network
- Atlanta Tech Village
- Arizona Tech Council
Cities across America are creating their tech footprint in a variety of industries. Where will your career journey take you? Our City Selector Tool helps you find growing tech hubs across the US where you can start building the next chapter of your life.
One America Works is a vision of the future where high-growth technology companies find the talent they need to grow and succeed in cities across America. Rather than bottlenecking the tech boom’s economic opportunity in just a few markets and imbalancing the nationwide talent pool, we believe the key to America’s economic future lies in diversifying its opportunities. By bringing investment and innovation to these communities, more people in more places will have access to the careers of the future and help contribute to the shared success of our economy.