RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – For years Charlotte’s technology ecosystem has grown in the shadow of Research Triangle Park, from startups and venture capital financing to life science and biotech. No longer.
A new report says that Charlotte not only has grown its tech community to become No. 1 in North Carolina but also No. 1 across the US.
The Computing Technology Industry Association, or CompTIA, is out with its 2018 “Tech Town Index,” with Charlotte followed by Raleigh at No. 2. Perhaps the honor will help sooth the wounds of those who were left jealous in the Queen City when the Triangle was deemed an Amazon HQ2 finalist, not their town.
Durham-Chapel Hill stands No. 15, thus sealing the Research Triangle region as one of the nation’s best spots for tech in one of many studies that regularly do rank RTP well. With three metros in the top 20, North Carolina is “a red-hot tech hub,” CompTIA declares.
Yet even when data from the report are combined for Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, the report finds that there were more tech jobs advertised in Charlotte and at a higher rate of pay. The rate of job growth for Charlotte also matches Raleigh but exceeds that of Durham-Chapel Hill.
Yes, the CompTIA report is special for Charlotte as the Queen City – which is home to the state’s most highly valued startup AvidXchange (a so-called “unicorn” with a value topping $1 billion) – finally gets the respect that many people spread across the financial technology (fintech) believe it deserves.
CompTIA ranks the top 20 “Tech Towns” on a variety of data that it believes produces a list of destinations that offer “the best quality of life for tech workers, factoring in salaries, job availability, job growth and cost of living.”
Thus North Carolina is one of only two states (Colorado is the other) that landed three “Tech Towns.”
Raleigh rival Austin, Texas, comes in at No., 3 followed by the usual suspects at No. 4 and No. 5 – Silicon Valley (San Jose and San Francisco).
The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is No. 6 followed by Seattle, Denver, Atlanta and Huntsville, Ala.
So how did Charlotte and Triangle top the Valley as well as Amazon hometown and tech hot bed Seattle?
Well, the study is not just based on numbers of jobs and opportunities but cost of living and other factors.
“As technology permeates every corner of our personal and professional lives, employment opportunities are expanding across the nation and fueling job growth in regions not traditionally thought of as tech hubs,” said Nancy Hammervik, executive vice president, Industry Relations of CompTIA, in reporting the study’s results.
“The geographic diversity of the index is something we’re very excited to see and demonstrates the positive impact the technology industry is having on regional economies.”
The “Tech Town” list spans 14 states and includes many, not all, of the 20 declared finalists that Amazon says it is considering for its HQ2 project and 50,000 jobs.
And both Charlotte as well as the Triangle hit a big highlight of the report: College towns.
“Many cities often thought of as college towns made the list, demonstrating that an abundance of well-educated talent has helped cities such as Boulder, Madison and Lansing blossom into full-on innovation hubs,” CompTIA says.
Crunching the numbers
Here are some of the data points that helped the NC cities crack “Tech Towns:”
- 44,464 tech jobs were posted in Charlotte over the past 12 months
- The median salary for IT pros in Charlotte is $87,755
- The number of IT Jobs in Charlotte is expected to grow 11% over the next 5 years
- Cost of living in Charlotte is 1.3% lower than the national average
- 25,633 tech jobs were posted in Raleigh over the past 12 months
- The median salary for IT pros in Raleigh is $86,944
- The number of IT Jobs in Raleigh is expected to grow 11% over the next 5 years
- Cost of living in Raleigh is 3.5% lower than the national average
- 10,989 tech jobs were posted in Durham over the past 12 months
- The median salary for IT pros in Durham is $84,011
- The number of IT Jobs in Charlotte is expected to grow 4% over the next 5 years
- Cost of living in Charlotte is 0.2% lower than the national average
Purpose of the report
CompTIA says the the report’s purpose is “to help in-demand IT pros make educated decisions about where to live and work based on opportunity and opportunity costs. The index also highlights the need for an educated, tech-ready workforce and the factors that are contributing to each metro areas’ ability to attract and retain that workforce.”
North Carolina is a tech jobs destination as recent data from the North Carolina Technology Association shows more than 20,000 open IT jobs across the state, not just Charlotte and the Triangle.
And CompTIA says the IT sector is destined for continued growth across the country, not just our state.
“The tech industry expanded by nearly 200,000 jobs in 2017 to an estimated 11.5 million total workers,” the trade group says. And these are valuable jobs. ” The average annual wage in the tech industry is $112,890, 107 percent higher than the average annual wage for all jobs ($54,420),” CompTIA notes.
Criteria for the latest study included:
- Job posting data over a 12-month period (August 2017-July 2018)
- Focused on dats on 20 metropolitan areas with populations greater than 250,000, where demand for tech workers is greatest.
- Cost of living
- Number of open IT positions
- Projected job growth over the next 12 months and the next 5 years
Read m ore at the CompTIA website.