Careers

The best city to start your career in each state 

Seattle, Washington
Didier Marti | Moment | Getty Images
Seattle, Washington

Where you start your career can have a lasting impact on your professional trajectory. Geography can affect your opportunities, earnings potential and ability to save money.

But just because a city offers amazing opportunities doesn't mean it's the perfect fit for everyone or every young professional. Career services site Zippia combed through data from the American Community Survey as well as median income figures from the U.S. Census to find the best platform for young professionals.

The site analyzed 831 of the country's biggest cities based on factors such as unemployment, population, age and cost of living in order to determine which places were best for young people starting their careers. Surprisingly, it found that smaller, lower-profile cities offered the affordability and opportunity that could get new professionals the right jump start.

In its ranking, Zippia found Fargo, North Dakota, offered the best combination of professional opportunity, affordability and quality of life. The median monthly rent in Fargo is about $727 and the unemployment rate is just 2.2 percent.

The ranking also considered population — and the share of millennials living in each city. Unsurprisingly, several of the best cities for young people also had large student populations thanks to large state universities. For instance, Lawrence, Kansas, Lincoln, Nebraska, and Madison, Wisconsin, are all home to flagship state universities and have slots in the list's top 10.

Several major cities are noticeably missing, including New York and Los Angeles. While cities like these do have a large number of young people and often offer higher salaries, an equally high cost of living keeps them off the list.

Here are the best cities to kick-start your career in each state:

Huntsville, Alabama
 James Deitsch | Getty Images
Huntsville, Alabama

Alabama

Huntsville

Median income: $51,441

Alaska

Anchorage

Median income: $80,862

Arizona

Tempe

Median income: $50,474

Arkansas

Conway

Median income: $47,190

California

Berkeley

Median income: $70,393

Colorado

Fort Collins

Median income: $57,831

Connecticut

New Haven

Median income: $38,126

Delaware

Wilmington

Median income: $40,065

Florida

Gainesville

Median income: $32,716

Georgia

Sandy Springs

Median income: $68,629

Hawaii

Kalaoa

Median income: $65,922

Idaho

Pocatello

Median income: $41,172

Illinois

Normal

Median income: $54,496

Indiana

Lafayette

Median income: $42,641

Iowa

Cedar Rapids

Median income: $55,359

Kansas

Lawrence

Median income: $47,938

Kentucky

Louisville

Median income: $46,881

Louisiana

Lafayette

Median income: $47,940

Maine

Portland

Median income: $48,259

Maryland

Towson

Median income: $77,680

Cambridge
Brooks Kraft | Getty Images
Cambridge

Massachusetts

Cambridge

Median income: $83,122

Michigan

Ann Arbor

Median income: $57,697

Minnesota

Duluth

Median income: $45,950

Mississippi

Jackson

Median income: $32,866

Missouri

Columbia

Median income: $45,221

Montana

Billings

Median income: $52,944

Nebraska

Lincoln

Median income: $51,126

Nevada

Reno

Median income: $48,815

New Hampshire

Manchester

Median income: $54,899

New Jersey

Jersey City

Median income: $60,703

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Education Images/UIG via Getty Images
Albuquerque, New Mexico

New Mexico

Albuquerque

Median income: $48,127

New York

Cheektowaga

Median income: $48,994

North Carolina

Chapel Hill

Median income: $65,373

North Dakota

Fargo

Median income: $48,060

The Fargo Theatre is an art deco movie theatre in downtown Fargo, North Dakota. It was built in 1926. It was restored in 1999 to its historic appearance and now is a center for the arts in the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
 Davoud Davies / Getty Images
The Fargo Theatre is an art deco movie theatre in downtown Fargo, North Dakota. It was built in 1926. It was restored in 1999 to its historic appearance and now is a center for the arts in the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ohio

Columbus

Median income: $47,156

Oklahoma

Norman

Median income: $52,484

Oregon

Eugene

Median income: $44,859

Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh

Median income: $42,450

Rhode Island

Providence

Median income: $37,366

South Carolina

Charleston

Median income: $57,603

South Dakota

Sioux Falls

Median income: $54,110

Tennessee

Nashville

Median income: $49,891

Texas

Midland

Median income: $71,500

Utah

Provo

Median income: $42,600

Vermont

Burlington

Median income: $46,754

Virginia

Arlington

Median income: $108,706

Washington

Seattle

Median income: $74,458

West Virginia

Charleston

Median income: $46,720

Wisconsin

Madison

Median income: $56,464