Tech Work Pays Best in Bay Area, Seattle Second

A new analysis shows tech talent can fetch higher paychecks in Northern California, but that difference may be cancelled out by elevated living expenses. So where should you choose to work?

Seattle area high-tech firms typically pay less than those in the San Francisco Bay area, although the cost of living is lower in the rainy city. However, both are still out front of tech pay in the rest of the nation.

That's the bottom line according to a new report published by tech employment tracker Glassdoor.

Overall, tech salaries have begun to grow again, if slowly, after two years of declines and stagnation.

Still, potential employees have a lot to consider when making job decisions.

For instance, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and (NASDAQ: AMZN), both Washington state stalwarts, pay more on average for technical talent than the rest of the nation -- the Bay Area excluded. The report was published on Glassdoor's blog earlier this month.

Of the two, only quite measures up to salaries paid by Bay Area heavy hitters like Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO).

"Across major categories of tech jobs in the past nine months, it’s not surprising the high cost-of-living Bay Area has more pay pull over Seattle -- with average base salaries averaging between 5 percent and 28 percent more," the report said.

For a software engineer with one to three years experience, Microsoft is paying around $90,485 and Amazon is paying $96,944 compared to $99,944 for Google and $95,538 for Yahoo.

As an illustration of the differences in cost of living between the two locales, in the Bay Area, where Microsoft also has a campus, the software titan pays $94,655 for the same position.

Meanwhile, per Glassdoor's report, IBM (NYSE: IBM) comes out looking like a piker, paying a mere $76,292 for a similar position in the Bay Area.

As far as how the two areas stack up against the rest of the nation, the numbers are clear cut. The average salary for all tech jobs nationwide is $84,693, while the average in Seattle is $86,816, and the Bay Area is $101,701.

Glassdoor bills itself as: "a small yet seasoned group of individuals looking to provide greater transparency into one of the most important aspects of our lives -- our jobs." The firm claims to collect data anonymously, with verification safeguards to ensure the data is consistent.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

Tags: Amazon, IT Jobs/Salary, IT jobs, IT salary, Silicon Valley

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