Money

Austin seems great for tech jobs—there's just one problem

Austin, Texas
Davel5957 | Getty Images
Austin, Texas

Jobs in the tech sector often offer lucrative salaries, especially for executive positions. But just how much you can make depends a lot on where you work.

A new study from job comparison site Comparably titled “What the C-Suite Earns: A Look at Executive Pay in Tech,” analyzed salary data for nearly 7,000 top tech executives across the U.S. and finds that the highest paid positions are in San Francisco and Seattle. "The lowest-paid execs overall were in Austin, Texas," Comparably reports.

In San Francisco, tech CEOs earn an average annual salary of $240,000, according to Comparably. In Austin, that number is $159,000. The gap is even wider for tech COOs: They earn around $267,000 per year in Silicon Valley but only $130,000 in Austin.

Here’s a sampling of the average executive compensation by location for several tech hubs across the country. (These numbers include only base salary and bonuses, not equity or stock options.)

Chief Executive Officer

  • Austin: $159,233
  • San Francisco: $240,264
  • Seattle: $218,703
  • New York: $216,215

Chief Technology Officer

  • Austin: $118,435
  • San Francisco: $140,196
  • Seattle: $141,999
  • New York: $137,914

Chief Operating Officer

  • Austin: $127,897
  • San Francisco: $267,782
  • Seattle: $265,683
  • New York: $227,191

Chief Marketing Officer

  • Austin: $192,828
  • San Francisco: $280,495
  • Seattle: $246,653
  • New York: $243,155

Chief Creative Officer

  • Austin: $158,600
  • San Francisco: $215,463
  • Seattle: $227,166
  • New York: $158,600

It’s much cheaper to live in Austin than on either the east or west coast, so that accounts for some of the wage disparity. There, the "cost of living is a lot lower and their state tax structure is much different — both for income taxes and capital gains,” Comparably CEO Jason Nazar tells CNBC Make It.

The difference in pay also reflects the extreme wealth concentrated in places like Silicon Valley. “I don’t think it’s as much as [Austin’s] out of whack as much as you see San Francisco and New York as just such high outliers that everything else looks depressed by comparison,” Nazar says.

San Francisco may offer high-paying jobs but workers there must contend with a steep cost of living. A new report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development says that a San Francisco metro area family of four bringing in $117,400 a year qualifies as "low income," as does a single adult making $82,000.

It’s also important to remember that, when building a career, salary isn’t everything. Job seekers should also take into account factors such as culture, company size, paid time off, health benefits and their personal interests and values.

And, while Austin might not be the top city in terms of earning potential right now, Nazar expects good things from the city going forward. “Austin is fast-growing and I think you’re seeing compensation ranges increasing,” he says.

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