The 10 Best States for Engineering Jobs

Which states offer engineers the best opportunities, greatest salary at the lowest cost, and the best chance of getting outdoors?

I recently read an email newsletter from Design News Daily with the headline of The 20 Best Cities for Engineering Jobs. The article caught my attention because I wanted to see if my state was on the list. I quickly discovered that they used two different lists that varied greatly based on selected criteria. The Forbes list compared the size of the engineering industry, annual mean salary, and median gross rent. The SpareFoot list looked at job availability, median salary, and median home price. But in the end, the lists were focused on cities and I was more interested in which states were best for engineering jobs.

EngineringJobs provided a very nice write up and list, although a bit dated, that was titled Where the Engineering Jobs Are: July 2015. This list was formed on the very relevant criteria of most jobs per 1,000 people. It seems to me that a state can’t be great for engineering jobs if it doesn’t have any job openings, so this list was almost perfect. Colorado was ranked sixth on their list, so I was pleased but not thrilled.

State Jobs Per 1,000 Top City
MA 3.78 Cambridge
MD 3.35 Rockville
VA 3.28 Arlington
CA 2.5 Fremont
WA 2.47 Redmond
CO 2.46 Westminster
MI 2.09 Livonia
MN 2.07 Minneapolis
NH 1.83 Salem
DE 1.8 Wilmington

After putting more thought, and bias, into what makes a state great for engineering jobs, I came up with three additional factors. Annual salary and cost of living for a state are very important. We have to eat and pay the mortgage. Salary.com provided Engineer Salaries by State and Area Vibes provided a very nice report including cost of living for cities in each state.

The last factor, and perhaps the most important, is the ability to get outside and enjoy nature. For this factor, I turned to a report titled Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data. This report provided a table of total federal land administered by the five agencies (Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, Forest Service), by state. This factor provided a quick look at how much land is available through national parks, forests, and other public areas. After taking these new factors into account, the new top 10 states for engineering jobs was formed.

Here are the top three, perhaps you can guess which states won?

#1 #2 #3
rocky_mountain_national_park yosemite olympic_national_park

Let’s take a look at the actual data pulled from the other sources already mentioned. The list is sorted based on a new factor called Outdoor Adjustment. The outdoor adjustment takes into account the number of jobs per 1,000 people along with the ratio of median salary divided by the cost of living, and finally multiplied by the percent of the state owned as federal land. As you can see, Colorado ranked the highest, followed closely by California, with Washington coming in third.

State Jobs Per 1,000 Top City Median Salary Cost of Living % of Federal Land Outdoor Adjustment
CO 2.46 Westminster 64,205 108 35.9 52.50
CA 2.5 Fremont 76,052 172 45.8 50.63
WA 2.47 Redmond 68,630 149 28.5 32.42
NH 1.83 Salem 67,083 120 13.8 14.12
VA 3.28 Arlington 69,444 161 9.9 14.01
MI 2.09 Livonia 63,348 96 10 13.79
MN 2.07 Minneapolis 66,019 106 6.8 8.77
MD 3.35 Rockville 69,444 144 3.1 5.01
DE 1.8 Wilmington 68,881 104 2.4 2.86
MA 3.78 Cambridge 69,902 170 1.2 1.87

Let us know what factors are most important to you!

About Joe Skazinski

Joe co-founded Kozio in 2003 and operated as the CEO before becoming the CTO. He has more than twenty two years of direct industry experience and is the co-author of over fifteen patents.
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