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IT jobs market booming in the Southwest

Lamont Wood | Feb. 10, 2015
We look at the prospects for both hiring managers and job seekers in the first in a series of reports examining IT labor markets across the country.

2015 IT Salary & Jobs Regional Report: The Southwest

The coasts might have the high-profile IT employers -- big banks and insurance companies, Google, Apple and Microsoft. But the Southwest is the region that leads the nation in technology job growth; and, as many IT professionals have found, that part of the country has plenty of natural charms.

"I think we're a hidden gem," says Lorenzo Gomez, director of the co-working space Geekdom in San Antonio, referring to the 80-mile Texas corridor from Austin (metro population 1.9 million) south to San Antonio (metro population 2.3 million) that comprises one of the economic centers of the Southwest.

Yet that gem may not be so hidden. By 2017 at least 9,000 new technology jobs are expected to be available in the Austin area (otherwise known as "Silicon Hills"), says Julie Huls, head of the Austin Technology Council. Already one in eight jobs in Austin is in the technology sector, and since those jobs pay well, they account for a quarter of the local payroll, says Drew Scheberle, vice president of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. The chamber estimates that there are about 4,700 technology companies in the Austin area and that 110 people are moving to the area every day.

Why? "There are no quakes, floods, hurricanes or fires here," says James Bindseil, president and CEO of Globalscape, a San Antonio-based provider of file transfer software. "We occasionally get weather from the Gulf of Mexico, but it's short-lived. We are in about as good a place as you can get." With a subtropical climate, the average daily day-night temperature is 68.6 F, ranging from 84.8 in August to 48.8 in January.

"The general personality is that it is a place where a growing family can afford a home, education is available and abundant, and traffic is not bad," says Sheridan Chambers, principal at Denim Group, a cybersecurity and custom software company with offices in both Austin and San Antonio. New recruits get to choose which office they want to work in. "Austin has a reputation of being a place for college-age or slightly older people, with an incredible music scene," he notes, but family-oriented new hires typically choose San Antonio.

Do the math

IT jobs in the Southwest may not pay as well as jobs on either coast, but calculating the value of compensation is a two-part process.

Here's the first half of the equation: According to the 2014 Computerworld Salary Survey, base pay plus bonuses for IT workers averaged $97,188 in the Southwest region, which was only slightly above the national average of $96,943. The average for New England was $111,265. For the Pacific region, it was $105,783.


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