By David E. Hubler
Contributor, Online Career Tips
You’re graduating soon with a degree in computer programming, IT, cybersecurity or business administration. Now you’re ready to heed 19th-century publisher Horace Greeley’s advice and “Go west young man” because your ideal job awaits you in Silicon Valley.
Of course, the 19th-century newspaper publisher certainly did not have Silicon Valley in mind when he penned that advice. Indeed, he wasn’t even thinking specifically of California. Though Greeley’s advice remains well-known, it might not be so wise today.
Stiff Competition for Tech Jobs in Silicon Valley
In 1939, Stanford University alumni William Hewlett and David Packard founded a small electronics firm in a garage in Palo Alto, California. Ever since that era, engineers, computer scientists, engineers and IT graduates have streamed into what is now known as Silicon Valley.
By the end of 2015, the population of Silicon Valley was slightly more than 3 million people. This number is equal to the population of the entire state of California in the 1910s and double the number of people in Silicon Valley in the 1960s.
Moreover, 30 percent of Silicon Valley’s 2013 core working-age population was between 25 and 44. For newly arriving graduates, job competition in the IT industry is tough. Climbing the ladder at Silicon Valley-based Yahoo, Google or Facebook can be a long, slow ascent.
So is heading west your best career path? Are there opportunities elsewhere? Of course there are.
Tech Jobs Available Coast to Coast
Since the latter half of the 20th century, regional pockets of high-tech employment opportunities developed in a variety of locations.
These locations include North Carolina’s Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area (Research Triangle Park) as well as Dallas, Denver, Boston and the Washington, DC metro area. Suburban Maryland, known for its advanced medical technology, is home to Johns Hopkins University and Health Systems and the University of Maryland Medical School, among others.
Like Stanford in Palo Alto, it was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, whose engineers and computer scientists spawned Boston’s vibrant Route 128 tech corridor.
According to writer Paul Mackun in his NetValley article, Silicon Valley and Route 128: Two Faces of the American Technopolis, “In direct opposition to the Silicon Valley’s reliance on risk-taking and partnerships is eastern Massachusetts’ emphasis upon convention, decorum and self-reliance.”
Mackun says, “Route 128 firms are much more staid and centralized affairs than the loose confederations of scientists and engineers in northern California. Their histories, attitudes and strategies have created technological societies similar in products manufactured but very different in their economic and social manifestations.”
The South also has technology jobs. Research Triangle Park has numerous employment opportunities at RTP companies including IBM, Cisco Systems Inc., Toshiba and other tech-related organizations. In fact, Forbes ranks Raleigh-Durham the third best locale in the nation for business and careers behind Denver and Provo, Utah.
DC Area Ranks High in Technology Employment
The Washington, DC metro area was once known only as a government town. Now, it’s become a major center for IT defense contractors, cyber security, telecommunications, big data analytics, startups and incubator companies.
The nation’s capital leads the country in the number of women in technology. ranks second in salaries with annual averages of nearly $130,000 in 2015, followed closely by Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York State.
Some 8,900 tech firms and their 146,000 employees have turned Northern Virginia’s Fairfax County into what Time magazine called “one of the great economic success stories of our time.” In 2015, Virginia ranked second in the nation in cyber security job postings with more than 17,000 openings, behind only California. Virginia also ranked sixth in tech employment and average wages.
Also, the state ranked third nationally in the number of science and engineering degree holders and STEM (science, technology, education and mathematics) concentration.
The 158 firms in Northern Virginia’s Fairfax County listed on this year’s Inc. 5000 have a combined revenue of nearly $7 billion. Fourteen companies in the county rank among Inc.’s top 500, according to the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.
Big Data Analytics Will Add 20,500 Jobs in DC Area by 2019
In the future, big data analytics firms in the DC region are expected to add more than 20,500 jobs during the next three years.
“As a global technology center, Northern Virginia has a vibrant, innovative technology ecosystem that offers highly skilled tech workers the opportunity to work in commercial and government markets for technology startups, mid-size companies and some of the largest tech businesses in the world,” said Northern Virginia Technology Council President and CEO Bobbie Kilberg told APUS in an email.
So before you heed Horace Greeley’s antiquated advice and jet to Silicon Valley, check out other areas in the country. Technology jobs aren’t just in California.
About the Author
David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor at APUS. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies. David has taught high school English in Connecticut and at Northern Virginia Community College. He has a master’s degree for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire and a B.A. in English from New York University. In March 2017, Rowman & Littlefield will publish a paperback edition of David’s latest book, “The Nats and the Grays, How Baseball in the Nation’s Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever.”
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