Whether we go into the office for a 10 a.m. stand-up meeting or are up and at ‘em by 8 as a suited professional, location matters. And many of us aspire to take our talents -- whatever they may be -- to the big city. In fact, America’s 20 biggest cities account for about 11 percent of the country’s entire population.
But not all skyscraper-filled landscapes were created equally, and there certainly is no one end-all, be-all for each and every career. With this in mind, we studied four factors that everyone cares about: the number of jobs, the demand for work, the annual average salary and the cost of living. We then applied them to determine, more specifically, the best big city for 10 fast-growing and/or popular careers. Where should you be working?
1. Web Developers -- Seattle
There are 3,850 developer jobs in Seattle’s metro statistical area (spanning nearby Bellevue and Everett), which is the fourth-highest total in the country. As the home to Amazon.com, this code isn’t hard to crack. Nationally, the profession with an evolving definition is expected to grow by 27 percent between now and 2024.
2. Graphic Designers -- San Francisco
Whether working full-time, part-time or on a freelance basis -- as many designers do -- the city by the Bay is the best place for them to be. The full-timers earn the highest annual average salary ($77,940), which was 70 percent higher than the national average in 2014. Plus, the Silicon Valley is next door.
3. Chefs -- Las Vegas
Location quotient, a metric that comes to us via the Bureau of Labor Statistics, measures the concentration of, say, chefs in a city as a percentage of all occupations, and then compares that to the national average of all cities. Vegas’ location quotient (3.7) is second only to the increasingly barren Atlantic City (4.2). After all, Nevada’s “Sin City” has been good enough for the restaurants of Thomas Keller, Wolfgang Puck and Mario Batali, among others.
4. Public Relations Specialists -- Washington, D.C.
If any place is in need of a group of professionals to help disperse, perhaps shape, the news, it’s the one that also houses the federal government. “PR” professionals here earn the nation’s highest annual average salary ($97,270) for their kind of work. President Obama’s White House press secretary, the most notable such professional in D.C., earns $172,000 annually.
5. Lawyers -- New York
There will be more 800,000 U.S. jobs in the law profession by 2024, according to the BLS, and some of the most ambitious practice in the “Big Apple,” which ranked in the top five for each of the four categories under consideration. This was highlighted by the fact that New York City has 55,480 lawyer positions, or seven-plus percent of the nation’s. Given their unique pay structure, the median hourly pay for lawyers here in 2014 was $80.55
6. Bank Tellers -- Miami
The only job on this list that is expected to continue its decline during the current decade, bank tellers are nevertheless at ease in Florida, where 5,560 of them earn an annual average salary of $29,800. In fact, seven of the best 15 cities (big or small) for tellers are in the state. But only Miami’s have access to Brickell, a financial district that boasts the country’s largest concentration of international banks.
7. Teachers -- San Diego
Weather is not under consideration for these rankings, but we would imagine teachers of all levels would take some of their summer vacation in this southern California coastal city anyway. In fact, San Diego is the biggest of three California cities to crack this top five for classroom leaders. The 7,470 teachers here earn $59,450 annually, with some outliers mixed into the bunch.
8. Registered Nurses -- Boston
There are 2.7 million registered nurses in the U.S., and there will be 16 percent more by 2024. The 43,460 in in Massachusetts’ biggest city earn an average annual salary of $90,880. Also watch out for physician assistants (or PAs), who are expected to grow 30 percent during this decade, are a hit in Fresno, Calif., and perform many of the same tasks as nurse practitioners.
9. EMTs -- Baltimore
The best city with at least 500,000 residents for emergency medical technicians, Baltimore has 3,030 such specialists earning an annual average salary of $41,460. That plus the relatively lower cost of living -- it’s 48 percent more affordable to reside here than it is in Boston -- makes the city infamous for its street crime a good landing spot for EMTs.
10. Police Officers -- Los Angeles
With 24,610 officers police and sheriff’s patrol officers in its metro statistical area, which includes Long Beach and Glendale, Greater Los Angeles pays its peacekeepers $87,070 on average. That is 16% more than their cross-coast peers in New York make per year. Of course, L.A.’s former police chief, William Bratton, now earns more than $205,000 as the latter city’s police commissioner.