Silicon Valley Stays on Top as Tech Salaries Climb Across U.S.

illustration of a dollar bill with a cut out to look like a chart arrow in an upward trend
Photo: Tim Robberts/Getty Images

By: Tekla S. Perry

When Hired released its annual report on the state of software engineers in 2020, it warned that the steady upward trend in tech salaries couldn’t be counted on to continue, given the uncertainties early in the pandemic.

And indeed, Hired’s 2021 State of Software Engineers Report concluded that demand, in the form of interview requests, dropped across the board as a result of the pandemic. But the online employment marketplace, recently acquired by Vettery, a competing recruitment platform, found that salaries for virtually all tech jobs increased in all major tech hubs last year. Hired didn’t report average software engineering salaries by metropolitan area, as the firm has done in the past.

But Dice, another job search platform, also released its annual tech salary report this month, and Dice did look at changes in tech salaries by region. According to Dice’s numbers, tech salaries grew the most in Charlotte, N.C. However, its data indicated, in terms of straight dollar figures, Silicon Valley remains solidly above the pack. Overall, Dice indicated the average salary of a tech professional in the U.S. increased 3.6 percent to US $97,859. Dice based its numbers on a survey of some 9000 tech employees.

Tech Salary report by major U.S. Cities

Zooming in on those high San Francisco Bay Area tech salaries, up an average 5 percent for the year, Hired sifted its data by specialty. According to its numbers, engineers working in augmented and virtual reality topped the Silicon Valley pay scale, with average salaries jumping 13 percent in 2020. That increase pushed the pay scale for AR and VR engineers well above those working in natural language processing (NLP), engineering management, and search. Those latter experts had topped the charts in Hired’s 2020 report. (This data, collected from interview requests posted on Hired, did not include bonuses or benefits.)

The chart below shows changes in Silicon Valley salaries for the most in-demand software engineering roles, based on interview requests made. The study looked at data from both Hired and Vettery, and covered 10,000 companies and 245,000 job seekers.

Salaries for software jobs of different categories in Silicon Valley

This article originally appeared in IEEE Spectrum on 3 March 2021.