Welcoming immigrants, a poem etched on the base of the Statue of Liberty reads, in part, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” One hundred and thirty-four years later, those famous lines loosely speak to the thousands of information technology professionals fleeing Silicon Valley and other cities for Austin, Texas. Poor might not be the best way to describe talented data scientists and software engineers. But, the term is relative. Techies can no longer tolerate spending huge chunks of their salary to make ends meet in the Northern California hub. The Texas capital has benefitted from an influx of technology companies and moderate cost of living levels that consume only 48% of an IT worker’s paycheck. By contrast, San Francisco salaries may range higher, but monthly expenses exhaust 61% of take-home pay. A full stack developer who earns $150,000 in SV can expect to pocket about $19,500 more in Austin, provided the same level of income applies. A few extra bucks translate to the freedom that Emma Lazarus’ ode referenced in 1883, albeit in a decidedly different context.
Austin’s boom has been built on career opportunities in the tech sector. Between 2001 and late 2016, employment growth in the Austin STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) segments far outpaced the rise in other metropolises, and the nation. Over the same time frame, the Southwest tech hub’s STEM jobs increased 35%. That figure more than triples the national average of 10% and also bested San Francisco and New York, whose growth rates came in at 25% and 2% respectively in the same time frame.
The home to the University of Texas offers residents and transplants much more than a chance to further their career pursuits. Film and music buffs have been descending on the city since 1987 when the South by Southwest festival began with a crowd of about 700 attendees. In 2016, the event attracted more than 63,000 artists and registrants, 22% of whom traveled to Austin from outside the United States.
Culture and charisma have attracted numerous technology companies to the city. Throw in a well-educated labor force and it’s no surprise that 147 tech startups in Austin raised nearly $1 billion in capital through 2015. Entrepreneurship isn’t the only game in town. The following five company snapshots examine some digital heavyweights who typically make smart bets as their footprints expand.
Apple owns ties to Austin that date back to 1992. Those roots have deepened considerably. In 2010, the iPhone purveyor employed about 100 people who designed chips for many of the company’s mobile devices. Six years later, the company employs more than 6,000 individuals who inhabit two facilities occupying more than 1.3 million square feet of Texas real estate. The expansion has been low-key. Johny Srouji, senior vice president of hardware technology said, “We have been quietly building out this team, which is one of our most important engineering groups. They play a very critical and integral role—they are designing chips that go into all the devices we sell.” Known to sell a few million mobile devices worldwide, Apple remains a top destination for tech talent.
- senior DevOps engineer
- graphic designer
- web designer
- senior commercial credit analyst
- process analyst
- computer science
- software development
Big Blue maintains an innovation center in Austin that employed about 6,000 as of June 2017. And IBM continues to foster job growth in the community where its presence spans 50 years. Reaching into the high school ranks, Stanley Litow, vice president of corporate citizenship, founded the P-TECH (Pathways for Technology Early College High School) program in 2011. The K-12 initiative offers students a chance to earn a high school diploma and associate’s degree within six years. After completion, those participants sit atop the list of applicants who vie for high-paying technology jobs. The concept complements coding boot camp trends, a means for anyone to hone programming skills without spending megabucks on a four-year computer science degree.
- Oracle database system administrator
- advisory software engineer
- data governance subject matter expert
- RF system design engineer
- project manager
- software development
- requirements analysis
Austin flexed its tech muscles long before the dot-com revolution began. A pioneer of dorm room startups, Michael Dell amassed personal computer sales of $6 million in 1984 after bolting from his University of Texas bunker a year earlier. In 2017, Dell remains a fixture in the Austin tech scene. Through 2016, Dell ranked 41st on the list of the Fortune 500’s largest companies and pulled in revenues of $64.8 billion. The PC firm employed approximately 101,800 globally, 13,000 of whom hail from central Texas. In its May 2017 world conference, the company introduced software, known as Alice, that uses artificial intelligence to help females launch and grow their startup businesses.
- senior software engineer
- project manager
- commercial notebook product manager
- web production senior analyst
- IT security senior analyst
- cloud computing
Samsung Austin Semiconductor
One of the top-ten most recognizable brands in the world, Samsung built an Austin semiconductor manufacturing facility in 1996. Over 6,000 employees design and build logic components for the company’s digital devices that include smartphones, tablets, and notebook computers. The electronics manufacturer doesn’t appear to be done investing in Texas. In late 2016, Samsung Austin Semiconductor announced its intent to pour about $1 billion into the plant, a move that will create between 250 and 500 new jobs. The Austin Chamber of Commerce estimates that the company already injects about $3.6 billion into the central Texas economy while holding direct and indirect responsibility for more than 10,000 jobs overall.
- process engineer
- senior engineering technician
- photolithography NPI process engineer
- implant experienced equipment engineer
- metrology infra defect engineer
- design of experiments
- semiconductor industry
- failure analysis
Advanced Micro Devices
Beginning California operations in 1969, Advanced Micro Devices, along with NDX and Samsung, totals three major chipmakers whose operations extend to Austin. AMD’s processors are used mostly in servers, computers, and video game consoles. The company’s growth is expected to be fueled by the introduction of new processor architecture known as “Zen”. AMD claims the new chip, rolled out in early 2017, delivers 87% more performance than that of rival Intel’s Core i5 model. Furthering its pursuits into virtual reality, the chipmaker acquired seven-year-old Austin-based startup Nitero in April 2017. Nitero manufactures chips that improve wireless signals between computer processors and augmented reality headsets.
- senior manager SOC verification
- director software systems design
- WLAN and BT lead system engineer
- fellow systems design engineer
- 3D graphics driver performance engineer
- data center
- internet protocol
Summing It Up
In 2017, U.S. News and World Report named Austin as the best city to live for natives and immigrants alike. It edged past Denver, Colorado which previously held the top spot among 100 of the nation’s biggest metropolises. The publication’s criteria included desirability, value, job market, quality of life, and net migration. Most of the tech workers relocating to Austin come from Houston, New York, and San Francisco and those residents who leave head for Seattle, Washington, and Nashville, Tennessee. Austin startups grew 81% in 2016, surpassing all major metro areas except Washington, D.C. Add affordability to the equation and the Texas town should continue as a top destination for current and future tech talent. While the city sits near or at the top in many polls, some reports suggest that Austin still has room to grow. WalletHub ranked the city 55th for median STEM job wage growth and 49th in the unemployment rate for job seekers who hold at least a bachelor’s degree.
If you’re considering making a move or negotiating a higher salary in a present position, Paysa analyzes job and earnings information from more than 198,000 technology firms, culled from tens of millions of resumes and more than 50 million salary data points. The company’s research shows that 36% of tech professionals make less than their peers in the marketplace. The good news is Paysa users report making up to $39,000 more in salary by leveraging the firm’s services. Paysa also takes some of the pain away from evaluating a job offer. Not only can you view market salaries for specific tech jobs, but the Paysa CompanyRank analyzes talent flow between all tech companies it follows and establishes a hierarchy among those businesses. Before you sign a new deal or sit through an annual review, visit Paysa.com to arm yourself with powerful data needed to advance your career to the next level.