The Most Valuable Tech Skills in Silicon Valley — and Beyond

You might possess skills in high demand by tech-industry companies. Full stack (or simply, stack) developers are some of the most in-demand individuals in the tech industry due to their extreme versatility. Based on the concept of having both front-end and back-end knowledge, these developers work as Swiss army knives to show their employer and co-workers how languages, such as Ruby or Python, combine with JavaScript.

Over 6.7 million Americans work in the tech industry, and close to 200,000 jobs were added between 2014 and 2015. In the next sections, we showcase which specific skills are most in-demand today, and outline which areas are actively sourcing these talents.

Take a virtual tour of the state of tech skills in the United States, and chart a course for your next potential career move.

The Cost of Being Proficient

We examined 248 individual skills to understand how each one was valued based on average position salaries and the number of jobs that listed those skills as either a requirement for the job, or a preference for ideal candidates. Ultimately, we looked at how popular certain skills were and how well they paid comparatively. We found that skills considered to be less common often resulted in a higher salary.

High-performance computing (HPC) is the highest-paying skill, earning an average $194,000 annually. Positions utilizing this skill are exceptionally rare, making up only .001 percent of jobs in the industry. Designed to meet the increasing demands of processing speed, programmers who utilize MPI (Message Passing Interface) and work with HPC generally have the ability to work for a wide variety of companies. Health care, cellular providers, banks, and other financial organizations are all looking for employees with this skill and are willing to pay for it.

Job listings specifically mentioning Microsoft Office were generally found to be some of the lowest paid positions, earning $120,000 on average per year. Unlike more complex programming or software, Microsoft Office is a more standardized solution and has a wider field of proficient applicants than many of the other skills we considered.

Management was the most popular skill mentioned in the job listings we looked at. Roughly 30 percent of positions listed management as a necessary expertise, though, in general, “management” is a fairly vague term. Some of the largest companies in this industry work to promote collaborative environments and foster team-based work, often eliminating the need for a solo manager.

Right Place, Right Skills

When we looked at the most prominent skills in the U.S., we found that management was listed as the most popular tech-industry experience throughout more than half the nation. Even in states like California, New York, and Texas (which all lead the country in tech-related positions), management was more commonly listed than any other skill. Being able to coordinate the efforts of engineers, designers, operations teams, and even sales support in the average tech ecosystem is extremely valuable.

Troubleshooting showed up as the most popular skill in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Mississippi, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Troubleshooting in the tech industry can be a broad skill set, ranging from internal system management to external customer support of an app or software. In states like Oklahoma, where the tech industry has grown significantly, initiatives like the Training for Industry Program have been created to help equip businesses with local technology — which furthers the need for troubleshooting expertise in the state.

Other fringe skill sets like SDLC (Systems Development Life Cycle) were popular in states like Delaware and Connecticut.

Code-Line Pockets

In examining almost 30 different coding languages, Objective-C was a highly compensated skill, but it was listed on fewer than 2 percent of the positions we reviewed. It’s a backbone language of one of the largest mobile app platforms, and some companies are offering developers and engineers a $200,000 annual salary for this skill.

SQL was one of the lower compensated skills, but was also the highest in demand across all job postings. This knowledge of database management and development is certainly in demand, maybe thanks to Microsoft. The company is currently promoting SQL Server 2016 and offering to aid in the transition and migration to their service over competitors while advertising both the security and extreme cost-effectiveness of their solution. Almost 20 percent of the jobs we saw indicated a need or understanding of SQL.

Capitals of Code

While Silicon Valley typically comes to mind when discussing the tech industry, Florida actually ranks fourth for the number of tech industry jobs available in the United States. Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Naples, and Tampa all show a need for developers with SQL skills.

IT represents the largest growth sector in the Sunshine State. Related roles help support migration to the cloud, development of mobile apps, and more — and you can’t do any of that without an appropriate database solution. Citrix and IBM are just two examples of big tech companies looking for help in Florida.

San Francisco companies are looking for applicants who specialize in Java. An average market salary of over $140,000 shows a definite need for specialists to help develop back-end solutions. And Boulder, Colorado, proved to be the city where JavaScript skills are most in demand.

Keyboard Kings and Queens

Jobs in the tech industry don’t just live in California — high-paying jobs are available across the United States just waiting for qualified individuals with the necessary skills to apply. While knowledge of skills like Objective-C pay more than SQL on average, fewer than 2 percent of postings indicate a need for this experience. SQL, in comparison, is mentioned in almost 20 percent of the job postings.

Thirty states also indicated a need for applicants with management experience across the positions listed. Given the number of jobs available and the ease of understanding what companies are truly looking for (and what they’re paying, using Paysa’s market salary analysis), those looking for full stack developer jobs are primed for success.


Average salary and number of matching jobs were detailed for 248 individual skills and 569 cities, according to Of all skills, 29 were identified as programming languages, according to When calculating the most popular programming language by city, six different languages were identified as top results for any city. All data reflect figures for August 19, 2016.


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Originally published at on October 19, 2016.