Tech is one of the fastest-growing employment sectors in America, and as the industry has grown, specific cities have become major hubs for technology companies. All kinds of factors make certain cities attractive places for tech companies and workers. We wanted to take a deeper look at some of those cities, starting close to home.
As a Florida-based tech company ourselves, we examined which metropolitan areas across the Sunshine State are the best for tech jobs based on factors relating to industry employment, earnings, and more.
How we chose these factors and cities
For this analysis, we collected hard data and statistics on every single major metro area in the state of Florida, for which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes employment data. Because of the way the BLS collects and groups data, in most instances, these metro areas include data for two or more cities located in close proximity to one another.
Each city was given a score relative to all other cities for each factor. Those scores were then weighted based on importance. Weighted scores across all categories were added together to assign a final score to each city, on a 0-100 scale, with the highest scores going to the metropolitan areas in the state of Florida that are the best for tech jobs.
The factors we chose were:
- Job competition: How many other people are trying to get these kinds of tech jobs? Sometimes it can be hard for even the most qualified of applicants to get their dream job if they get lost in a flood of similarly skilled job seekers.
- Salary: What do tech workers get paid in these areas? All else being equal, bigger is better when it comes to paychecks.
- Cost of living: How affordable is it to live there? A big salary can feel a lot smaller if the prices for things like housing, food, and other essentials are high.
- Highly-rated tech companies: Are there companies you'd actually enjoy working for in each city? A paycheck is great, but having a job you love going to every day is priceless.
- Job availability: How many open tech jobs are there in each area? Being qualified for a job and having a desire to work in the tech field don't matter if there aren’t any companies actively hiring.
- State of Florida internet connectivity ranking: How good is the internet quality in a given city? A lot of projects and jobs in the tech world can be brought to a screeching halt by a poor internet connection, so having fast, reliable internet is a must.
The 10 best cities for tech jobs in Florida
- 7 of the top 10 cities are located in the center of the state
- Of those 7 Central Florida cities, 5 are located on the coasts
- 3 of those coastal cities are on the Gulf of Mexico, while 2 border the Atlantic Ocean
- The 3 cities not in Central Florida are spread all throughout the state, with the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area representing South Florida, Jacksonville repping the far northern part of the Atlantic coast, and Panama City representing the Florida Panhandle
A city-by-city breakdown of Florida’s best cities for tech jobs
|Rank||Metro Area||Total Score (0-100)||Tech Job Competition (Weight: 4.0)||Tech Job Salary (Weight: 4.0)||Cost of Living (Weight: 2.33)||Number of Tech Companies with 4+ Star Ratings on Glassdoor (Weight: 4.33)||Per Capita Tech Job Availability (Weight: 3.33)||State of Florida Internet Connectivity Ranking (Weight: 2.0)|
|7||Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach||61.4||2.7||3.8||0||5||1.7||3.8|
- Sebastian-Vero Beach
Located on the east coast of central Florida, the Sebastian-Vero Beach metro area is the only area that earned an overall score higher than 75, putting it well ahead of the rest of the state when it comes to tech jobs. Sebastian-Vero Beach earned a score of 4.5 or higher in three different categories, the only city in our analysis to do so. Those categories are tech job competition, per capita tech job availability, and the number of highly-rated tech companies in the area. There are many open tech jobs and low competition at well-regarded tech companies such as Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and Citrix.
- Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater
The second-place metro area is located in almost the exact same part of Central Florida as the number-one city — just on the opposite coast. Home to some of America’s top-rated beaches, the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area also boasts a perfect score when it comes to the number of highly rated tech companies. Both Tech Data and Sykes Enterprises are headquartered in the area. The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area earned a near-perfect score when it comes to internet connectivity and scores higher than 3.5 on tech job salary and availability.
The theme park mecca of Orlando headlines the number three metro area. Once again, the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metro earned a perfect 5 out of 5 when it comes to the number of 4+ star tech companies in the area. Beyond tech job openings with theme park giants Disney and Universal, other notable tech companies in the area include Electronic Arts, Facebook, and Hewlett-Packard. Orlando also includes one of the ten largest research parks in the country, which hosts a number of technology-focused businesses and labs.
The first city not located in the center of the state is also the most populous city in Florida and the largest city by area in the entire country. Jacksonville is home to a number of major military installations and the headquarters for four different Fortune 500 companies, including financial technology giant FIS. Those workplaces helped the city earn a perfect score in the 4+ star company category, while strong internet infrastructure gave Jacksonville a 4.7 connectivity score.
- Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville
Located just north of the number-one metro area in our analysis, the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville area performed well enough on its own to give Florida’s Space Coast a second top-five city for tech jobs. Outside of the NASA hubs at Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center, tech workers can find employment at places such as L3Harris Technologies and nearly 500 different aerospace companies. These companies propelled Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville to a perfect score in the 4+ star company category. But the metro also earned a perfect score when it comes to tech job salary — tech workers in this area are paid more than their counterparts anywhere else in the state.
- Lakeland-Winter Haven
Lakeland-Winter Haven is the first metro area on this list without a score of 5 out of 5 in the highly-rated tech company category. Instead, these cities earned their spot in the top 10 thanks to strong performances in the areas of tech job availability (a perfect 5 out of 5) and competition level for tech jobs (a score of 4.1). That means plenty of tech jobs are available in the area relative to the population, and relatively little competition for those jobs.
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach
The final metro area on our list with a perfect 5 out of 5 score for the number of highly rated tech companies in the area, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area is home to the headquarters of Latin America operations for many major corporations. That includes tech-focused companies like Cisco, Oracle, SBC Communications, and Launch Potato, the parent company of FinanceBuzz. Interestingly, this metro area finished this high despite having the highest cost of living in the entire state of Florida and earning a zero in that category.
- Punta Gorda
Punta Gorda is the final city to earn an overall score in excess of 60. The city earned that score thanks to strong showings in two different categories: tech job competition and per capita tech job availability. Punta Gorda scored 4.2 or higher in both of those categories, while also garnering scores of 3.4 in an additional two categories.
- North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton
Much like Punta Gorda, the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton metro area earned scores of 3.4 and higher in four of the six categories to achieve a top-10 finish. The top overall categories were tech job salary (where the metro earned a 3.7) and internet connectivity (where it earned a 3.5).
- Panama City
The final area on our list is Panama City, which garnered a perfect 5 out of 5 in internet connectivity. Strong showings in the areas of cost of living and tech job competition also helped Panama City earn the final slot in the list of Florida’s 10 best cities for tech jobs.
Tips for getting the most out of your job and career
For any tech workers contemplating a move to Florida (or within Florida), here's some advice on how to get more value out of your job:
- Get started on the road to retirement with a 401(k). Many workplaces offer retirement assistance in the form of a 401(k) plan, and our guide to what a 401(k) is and what you need to know about it is the perfect place to start planning for a work-free future.
- Work from anywhere. Thanks to the rise of jobs that allow remote work, many people are no longer tied to a physical office. This allows them to live and work from wherever they want, including a Florida beach. Here's a list of the best sites to find remote work that pays well — anyone looking to make the jump to remote work should be sure to check it out.
- Increase your financial options by investing in options. Investing has never been easier thanks to the rise in tech companies and apps that make investing simpler and more accessible to all. This beginner’s guide to options trading is a great resource for anyone looking to explore this style of trading as an investment in their financial future.
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Methodology and sources
For this analysis, FinanceBuzz collected data for all Florida metropolitan areas that the Bureau of Labor Statistics published data on. We gathered data points for six different factors related to tech jobs in each area. Data for each metro was put into a dynamic formula that assigned a 0-5 score to each metro for every factor, with scores being relative to all other metro areas in our evaluation. Individual factor scores were then weighted and added together to get a final score on a 0-100 scale.
Factors, data points, factors weights, and sources are as follows:
Job Competition Score - Assigned location quotient score for tech jobs in each metro area - Bureau of Labor Statistics - Weight: 4.0
Salary Score - Assigned annual mean wage for tech jobs in each metro area - Bureau of Labor Statistics - Weight: 4.0
Cost of Living Score - Assigned cost of living for each metro area - BestPlaces.net - Weight: 2.33
Highly-Rated Tech Companies Score - Number of companies with 4+ star ratings under the “technology” category in each metro area on August 17, 2021 - Glassdoor - Weight: 4.33
State of Florida Internet Connectivity Ranking Score - Proprietary ranking of internet infrastructure, quality, and cost in each metro area relative to the rest of Florida - BroadBandNow - Weight: 2.0