Jul 15, 2022 - News

The D.C. region's tech salaries nearly rival Silicon Valley

Select local tech wages compared to San Francisco market
Data: Carta. Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Tech workers in the D.C. region are seeing salaries nearly as high as their Silicon Valley peers.

Why it matters: Diversifying our economy is a top goal for regional leaders, given the perception — and, in part, the reality — that we are a government town.

By the numbers: Techies in San Francisco are still out-earning D.C. tech employees, but on average not by much, according to company data compiled by the management software firm Carta.

As of June, tech workers in the Washington metro make 97% of what those in San Francisco earn.

  • We took a giant leap of 12 percentage points from 2021 to 2022, just a hair away from the top-tier cities, which also include New York and Seattle.

The big picture: Northern Virginia has become a magnet for the industry, with the Dulles Technology Corridor continuing its growth along the Silver Line and Amazon HQ2 going up in Arlington.

  • And life sciences are booming in Montgomery County, making the region the second in the nation for talent in that sector, as we reported yesterday.

What they’re saying: “This region is shedding the image that it’s a government town,” said Jennifer Taylor, head of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, which has over 400 members in the tech industry.

  • She cites three decades of growth that has accelerated in recent years, with big names such as Microsoft and Google opening offices, in addition to government contractors expanding.

What’s next: “Every time I turn around, everything’s about AI, machine learning, and autonomous systems,” Taylor told Axios.

  • New investments in academia hope to have a snowball effect, putting students and employers on campuses. Taylor said the upcoming Virginia Tech Innovation Campus in Alexandria and George Mason’s Fuse at Mason Square in Arlington are two projects that will be pivotal to “churning out more talent.”

Another bright spot: The cost of living in the region is 23% lower than in San Francisco, according to NerdWallet’s cost of living calculator.


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