Top 10 metro areas for tech jobs

You don't have to move to Silicon Valley to get a job in tech. Here the 10 metro best areas for finding one -- some may surprise you

top metro areas for tech jobs
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The best metro areas for those looking for STEM careers

Businesses continue to scramble to hire tech professionals with skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) in order to keep up with the growing demands of technology in the enterprise. It's also lucrative to employees, with an average annual salary of $85,570, according to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's nearly 81 percent higher than the national average.

To determine where the STEM workers can land the best jobs, analysts from WalletHub, a firm that provides services to consumers and small business owners helping them make better financial decisions and save money, conducted research covering 100 metropolitan areas. Criteria included metrics such as job openings for STEM graduates per every 1,000 residents, unemployment rates for those with a bachelor's degree or more, the annual median wage for STEM workers, and the number of engineering universities. You can reference the full study for all 16 metrics. Each category was weighted for importance in order to come up with an overall score for each metro area. Based off that data, here are the 10 best metro areas for STEM professionals.

San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, CA
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San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara, CA

First on the list is the San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara, California, area, where you'll also find the highest percentage of all workers in STEM jobs, according to WalletHub. It also ranked No. 1 for the highest quality of engineering universities, although interestingly enough, it also ranked No. 1 for the lowest annual median wage for STEM workers. And, while it ranked low in the annual median wage category, you can still earn more than the national average in this area, according to PayScale. It cites the average salary for a software engineer at $79,357, but notes that in San Jose, the average salary is 28 percent higher at nearly $100,000 per year.

Austin and Round Rock, TX
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Austin and Round Rock, TX

Second on the list is the Austin and Round Rock, Texas, metropolitan area, which ranked No. 4 in highest quality of engineering universities. Forbes also rated Austin, Texas, as No. 1 in technology job growth; between the years of 2004 and 2014 jobs in this industry grew over 73 percent. Overall, Austin and Round Rock, Texas, are great areas to get your STEM career off the ground.

Seattle, Tacoma and Bellevue, WA
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Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellevue, WA

More companies are finding their way north of Silicon Valley to join the likes of Microsoft and Amazon in Washington. So it's not surprising to see the Seattle area at third on the list of best metro areas for STEM professionals. It also ranked third for the highest percentage of all workers in STEM jobs, which indicates a high number of technology jobs in the area. It didn't top the list for any other categories -- good or bad -- but according to PayScale, the average lead software engineer in Seattle earns, on average, 10 percent more than the national average.

4 denver aurora and lakewood co
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Denver, Aurora, and Lakewood, CO

The Denver, Aurora, and Lakewood, Colorado, area ranked fourth on the list of best metro areas to find a STEM job in 2016. It also came in at fourth on the list of metro areas with the highest percentage of workers in STEM jobs. The city of Denver also made headlines last year thanks in part to its initiatives to help get more women into STEM to close the stark gender gap in the industry. Another Colorado city made it on to the list as well: Colorado Springs came in at No. 11 on the list of best metro areas to work in STEM, and it also came in fourth for highest annual median wage growth.

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Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Bloomington, MN

The Twin Cities and Bloomington metro area are not only fifth on the list of best metro areas for STEM jobs, but also came in fourth on the list of metro areas with the highest mathematical performance based on 4th and 8th grade math test scores. There is a strong tech industry blooming in this metro area, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics job data. Some of the most staffed tech positions in this metro area include computer systems analyst, network and computer systems administrators, and software developers.

Boston, Cambridge and Newton, MA
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Boston, Cambridge, and Newton, MA

The Boston, Cambridge, and Newton metro area is not only one of the best metro areas to find a STEM job, but it also tied with two other Massachusetts cities, Worcester and Springfield, for the highest mathematical performances on 4th and 8th grade test scores. According to an article in the Boston Globe, Boston plans to keep its high test scores -- and help close the STEM skills gap -- with a new initiative called BoSTEM, which aims to help guide kids into the right STEM career for their skills.

Madison, WI
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Madison, WI

Madison is quickly becoming known for its growing tech industry, and a study from Chapman University's Center for Demographic and Policy found that cities like Madison appeal to families that want a shorter commute, good public education, and an abundance of tech jobs. The study also ranked it third in STEM job growth, pointing out a decline in jobs in areas like San Jose and Sunnyvale, California, which are usually associated with the tech industry.

Houston, the Woodlands and Sugar Land, TX
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Houston, the Woodlands, and Sugar Land, TX

The same study that ranked Madison third for STEM job growth also ranked the Houston, Woodlands, and Sugar Land, Texas, area as fourth in the same category. WalletHub also has this Texas metro area on its list of best places to find a STEM job and also found it ranked No. 1 for highest annual median wage for STEM workers. According to PayScale, application developers in the Houston area can expect to earn, on average, $766,239 per year, which is 15 percent higher than the national average.

9 pittsburgh pa
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Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, not only made the list of best metro areas to find a stem job, it also came in fifth for best housing affordability, while the Scranton, Pennsylvania, metro area came in second in the same category. A Pennsylvania Federal R&D and STEM Jobs Report from 2013 predicted that by 2018, Pennsylvania will have 314,000 STEM jobs to fill based off reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That makes it a great place to start a STEM career, as tech workers become in demand to fill open positions.

10 columbus oh
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Columbus, OH

Columbus, Ohio, is 10th on the list of best metro areas for STEM workers, and it was listed as one of the fastest growing areas for startups, according to a study by the Kauffman Index. Some of the most-staffed tech jobs in Columbus include computer systems analyst, software developer, and computer support specialist, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And, according to research from the Kauffman Index, Ohio is slated to have 274,000 STEM jobs by 2018, which represents significant growth in the next two years.