Three Colorado communities made a list of the best 20 areas for tech workers in a new report by a national technology industry association.
CompTIA’s report, released Tuesday, ranks the Denver-Lakewood-Aurora area as eighth-best in the country for tech workers based on salaries, job availability and growth and cost of living. The report, “Top 20 Tech Towns,”lists Boulder as No. 19 and Colorado Springs as No. 20.
Colorado and North Carolina are the only states with three cities on the list. The Charlotte, N.C.-metro area tops the rankings, followed by Raleigh, N.C., at No. 2. The top 20 cities are spread across 14 states.
“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,” Nancy Hammervik, CompTIA’s executive vice president of industry relations, said in a statement.
The inclusion of university communities, like Boulder, shows that an abundance of well-educated talent has helped the cities grow into “full-on innovation hubs,” said Spencer Bone, a director of marketing with CompTIA.
“This shows IT is a lot more than just coding. Everywhere you look now tech jobs are popping up,” Bone said.
The report, the first of what the association plans to be an annual release, comes as the technology industry is experiencing significant growth. The industry expanded by nearly 200,000 jobs in 2017 to an estimated 11.5 million workers, according to the association. Additionally, at $1.6 trillion, the tech sector is one of the largest components in the nation’s economy and is a top-five economic contributor in 22 states.
“The idea behind the report is that there are different rankings of different tech towns, but we thought we would bring in a more well-rounded picture. We decided to bring in other factors,” including projected job growth, Spencer said.
Making the Top 10 list speaks to the focus the past several years in Denver on helping entrepreneurs get started, scale up and grow, said Deborah Cameron, chief business development officer with the Denver Office of Economic Development.
“It also reflects our intentional approach of really cultivating and nurturing the sector,” Cameron said.
The inclusion of Colorado Springs on the Top 20 list wasn’t a surprise, said Tammy Fields, chief economic development officer for the Colorado Springs Chamber and Economic Development Corp.
“The IT sector has definitely seen growth over the last 10 years, from software to data centers to cyber-security operations and everything in between,” Fields said.
The educated workforce and sophisticated information networks associated with the strong military presence in Colorado Springs have helped expand the industry, Fields added. “And we have amazing outdoor recreation with extreme ease of access that’s attractive to workers who can work anywhere they want.”
The report includes profiles of the ranked cities’ tech community. Below are some of the highlights for the three Colorado communities and comments from the report:
The Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area — Employers posted 50,897 IT jobs between August 2017 and July 2018; the number of jobs is expected to grow another 11 percent the next five years; and the median salary is $90,958.
“Colorado has one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates, especially in IT, which has resulted in huge shortages for in-demand roles like IT engineers and software developers.”
Boulder — Employers posted 5,821 IT jobs between August 2017 and July 2018; the number of jobs is expected to grow 5 percent the next five years; and the median salary is $88,899.
“There is a high concentration of employment here in several industry clusters, including aerospace, bioscience and information technology.”
Colorado Springs — Employers posted 8,356 IT jobs between August 2017 and July 2018; the number of jobs is expected to grow by 5 percent in the next five years; and the median salary is $90,438.
“With a median tech talent salary of $90,438 a year, Colorado Springs IT pros are making similar salaries to those in other Colorado cities on our list, but the cost of living is lower than both Boulder and Denver.”
The report notes the cost of living in the Colorado communities ranges from 7 percent to about 15 percent higher the national average, but points to amenities and outdoor lifestyle that have made the state among the fastest-growing.
CompTIA compiled job posting data over a 12-month period focusing on 20 metropolitan areas with populations greater than 250,000, where demand for tech workers is greatest. CompTIA then ranked the cities based on cost of living, number of open tech positions, and projected job growth over the next 12 months and the next five years.