Updated: Feb 10
STEM workers are in fierce demand, and not just in the global epicenter of high tech known as Silicon Valley. According to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis, STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — professions are expected to grow 8% between 2019 and 2029, compared to just 3.4% for all other occupations. In addition, the median annual STEM wage is $86,980, compared to $38,160 for all non-STEM occupations.
Given their growing demand, STEM careers today provide some of the most lucrative employment opportunities. They pay higher salaries and boast far fewer threats of unemployment compared with other types of jobs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, STEM jobs have been more resilient against job losses and more compatible with remote work compared to many other job types.
To determine the best markets for STEM professionals, WalletHub compared the 100 largest metro areas across 20 key metrics. WalletHub's data set ranges from per-capita job openings for STEM graduates to median wage growth for STEM jobs.
In order to determine the best job markets for STEM professionals, WalletHub compared the 100 most populated U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) — metro areas, for short — across three key dimensions, “Professional Opportunities”, “STEM-Friendliness” and “Quality of Life.”
WalletHub evaluated those dimensions using 20 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for STEM professionals. Data for metrics marked with an asterisk (*) were available only at the state level.
Finally, WalletHub determined each metro area’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Professional Opportunities – Total Points: 33.33
Job Openings for STEM Graduates per Capita: Double Weight (~6.35 Points)
Share of Job Postings in Tech: Full Weight (~3.17 Points) Note: This metric measures the share of job postings in tech out of total postings on Indeed.com.
Share of Workforce in STEM: Double Weight (~6.35 Points)
STEM Employment Growth (2019 vs. 2017): Double Weight (~6.35 Points)
Unemployment Rate for Adults with at Least a Bachelor’s Degree: Full Weight (~3.17 Points) Note: “Adults” include the population aged 25 and older.
Annual Median Wage for STEM Workers: Full Weight (~3.17 Points) Note: This metric was adjusted for the cost of living.
Average Monthly Earnings for New Employees in STEM Industries: Full Weight (~3.17 Points)
Median Wage Growth for STEM Workers (2019 vs. 2017): Half Weight (~1.59 Points)
STEM-Friendliness – Total Points: 33.33
Mathematics Performance*: Full Weight (~5.56 Points) Note: This metric considers standardized math test scores of fourth and eighth graders.
Number of Best Engineering Schools: Full Weight (~5.56 Points) Note: This metric measures the number of engineering universities in the top 100 of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Engineering Schools” ranking.
Quality of Engineering Universities: Full Weight (~5.56 Points) Note: This metric is based on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Engineering Schools” score.
Disparity of Women vs. Men in STEM Occupations: Half Weight (~2.78 Points)
Disparity of Women vs. Men in STEM Field of Degree: Half Weight (~2.78 Points)
Research & Development (R&D) Spending & Intensity*: Full Weight (~5.56 Points)
Invention Patents per Capita*: Half Weight (~2.78 Points) Note: “Invention Patents” refers to state-granted invention patents including utility, design, plant, and reissue patents.
Tech Meetups per Capita: Half Weight (~2.78 Points)
Quality of Life – Total Points: 33.33
Housing Affordability: Full Weight (~8.33 Points) Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Annual Median Gross Rent / Annual Median Wage for STEM Workers.
Recreation-Friendliness: Full Weight (~8.33 Points) Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Best & Worst Cities for Recreation” ranking.
Family-Friendliness: Full Weight (~8.33 Points) Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family” ranking.
Singles-Friendliness: Full Weight (~8.33 Points) Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Best & Worst Cities for Singles” ranking.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Patent and Trademark Office, National Center for Education Statistics, National Science Foundation, Council for Community and Economic Research, Indeed, U.S. News & World Report, Meetup and WalletHub research.