Best Cities for Computer Programmers In The South

Who says you need to be in California for a great computer programming job? Realizing all of the hoopla that the West Coast gets when it comes to computer programming jobs (and companies) ValuePenguin wanted to put a list together of the top cities for computer programmers who may be looking to live and work in other areas of the country. Our first edition of this study will cover the 'South' region of the United States.

As of 2010, there were approximately 363,100 computer programmers employed in the United States. These professionals earned a national average salary of $71,380 per year, and $34.32 per hour. The job growth outlook for computer programmers is about average: from 2010 - 2020 the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of programming jobs to grow 12%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that part of the reason this number isn't growing faster (as most people think it would be) has to do with the number of computer programming jobs that end of being outsourced for cheaper prices in other parts of the world.

So what are some of the best cities for computer programmers in 'The South'?

For a deeper look into the computer programming field, ValuePenguin reports on the best cities for programmers to consider for their career prospects. We ranked U.S. cities based on three key questions:

1. How much money do computer programmers make in the city? 

We ranked cities based on the median annual pay as a substantial factor in the decision process for computer programmers looking for work. Of course, a high salary for a programmer in an expensive city may not outweigh a lower salary in an affordable town. That's why we posed our second question... 

Related Tool: Computer Programmer Salary

2. How expensive is it to live there? 

In conjunction with the median annual salary for computer programmers in the city, cost of living helps determine how far your dollar will go. For this particular variable, cities with lower cost of living ranked highly in our study.

3. What is the location quotient for computer programmers in the city? 

A town with a high average salary and low cost of living may seem perfect, but job opportunities may be limited. Our study factors in cities with a high computer programmer location quotient. Location quotient measures the concentration of programmers in the city as a proportion of all occupations relative to the national average. A higher location quotient can be inferred to mean a relatively high demand for computer programmers' services.

Select Southern Cities for Computer Programmers

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC

The Durham-Chapel Hill area may be best known for it's intense NCAA basketball rivalry between the two neighboring powerhouses (Duke and UNC) but the city is becoming an economic powerhouse in the South. Both towns has received numerous awards in the past few years and they can now add one more to the list: Durham-Chapel Hill is one of the top Southern Cities for Computer Programmers. "The Research Triangle" as it's often referred to, scored well in our study because they had the 3rd highest concentration of computer programmer jobs per capita. They also had the 4th highest average annual salary, $85,180. The only data point holding Durham-Chapel Hill back from being even higher in our study was their cost of living (112). Nationally this cost of living (COL) number is not terribly high, but because the majority of southern cities in our list all had cheaper than average COL, Durham-Chapel Hill scored below average, on a relative basis, in this particular study.

Read more about Durham, NC

Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL

The Palm Bay metropolitan area ranks first in this years 'Best Southern Cities for Computer Programmers' list. Based on ValuePenguin's analysis, this eastern Florida metro area scored well in a number of categories that helped to vault it to the top of our study.  For starters, its average annual salary is $86,510, which is $15,000 more per year than the average city in our study. Secondly, the Palm Bay area has a very reasonable cost of living, one of the three lowest on our list. And finally, the area boasts almost 1,000 800 jobs in the growing computer programming space. 

Little Rock-Conway, AR

This largest city in the state of Arkansas, the capital city of Little Rock has the lowest concentration of geoscientist jobs in the country but makes up for it with an annual salary of $114,830, or almost 35% higher than the national average. On top of all that, the cost of living in the Dallas area is very reasonable which means your dollar will go a long way. It's tied for 1st on our list for the cheapest cost of living.

Related: ValuePenguin's Guide to Arkansas

Huntsville, AL

The 4th largest city in the state of Alabama, Huntsville is nicknamed "The Rocket City". It also finds itself solidly in 2nd place in our study of top cities for computer programmers. Huntsville showcased the 2nd highest concentration of computer programming opportunities out of all cities on the list. It also boasts an average annual salary that's almost 20% higher ($85,640) than the national median for programmers. If you're a computer programmer looking for work in Huntsville, we suggest you look at ADTRAN, Intergraph, Avocent, or Deltacom as they represent some of the top commercial technology companies in town.

Top 20 Cities for Computer Programmers in the South:

RankCityMedian SalaryJobsLocation QuotientCost of LivingScore
1Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL$86,5109602.068684
2Huntsville, AL$85,6401,3602.749668
3Dallas, TX$75,5708,5501.688866
4Atlanta, GA$78,9109,5201.739463
5Forth Worth-Arlington, TX$83,8102,4001.129261
6Durham-Chapel Hill, NC$85,1801,5602.3611360
7Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL$73,1503,7301.368859
8Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL$89,6604800.969257
9Little Rock-Conway, AR$62,5601,4401.778954
10Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO$67,3801,5303.109452
11Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX$77,1305,1300.88951
12Birmingham-Hoover, AL$78,1401,6001.369551
13Montgomery, AL $71,050690 1.80 90 51 
14Roanoke, VA $77,950 330 0.91 89 50 
15Charlotte, NC$80,870 1,810 0.87 94 50 
16Raleigh, NC $76,080 2,250 1.80 102 49 
17Greensboro, NC $77,180 670 0.81 89 48 
18Nashville, TN$80,000 1,960 1.08 105 45 
19Memphis, TN $75,360 970 0.68 75 44 
20Washington-Arlington, DC-VA $77,430 8,950 1.57 156 43 

Study Methodology

1. Average Salary: cities with the highest average annual salary

2. Cost of Living: cities with the lowest cost of living. Data sourced from Sperling's Best Places COL Calculator.

3. Employment: cities with the highest number of biomedical engineering jobs

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