The Best-Paying U.S. Cities for IT Administrators


Published November 9, 2020

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt how people live and work. According to Gallup’s most recent Work and Education poll, the average number of days that U.S. workers are working from home has more than doubled since last year. The same research shows that 34 percent of American workers have been working entirely or mostly from home in recent weeks. The increase in remote work means that U.S. workers are relying even more on technology, which could have an effect on the demand for IT administrators—a group that was in demand even before COVID-19. 

Compared to most other occupational groups, computer and math occupations are in high demand and have a positive job growth outlook. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 10-year projected growth rate for all occupations is only 3.7 percent. However, the projected employment change for computer and math occupations during this time frame is 12.1 percent, only behind healthcare support occupations and community and social service. Notably, these numbers were calculated for 2019–2029, before the pandemic started.

A bar chart showing that computer and math occupations are among the top 5 fastest-growing occupational groups in the U.S.

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Even within computer and math occupations, there is some variation in job outlook and demand. More specifically, IT administrators (defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as “Network and Computer Systems Administrators”) have a lower projected growth rate than the group overall. In fact, the 10-year projected growth rate for Network and Computer Systems Administrators is only 4 percent. The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook notes that a potential reason is the increase in cloud computing, which could raise existing workers’ productivity while decreasing employment growth. 

Despite average projected job growth, IT administrators still earn far more than most workers overall and have plentiful remote work opportunities. The higher salaries are in part due to specialized training and education, since most employers require IT administrators to hold a bachelor’s degree in computer or information science. Nationwide, IT administrators earn a median wage of $83,510, more than twice the national median for all occupations ($39,810).  

Salaries for IT administrators vary across the country, and there are a lot of locations outside of major tech hubs that offer great pay for IT workers. At the regional level, states in the South and the Midwest offer some of the highest salaries for IT administrators when adjusted for cost of living. In fact, the adjusted median wage for IT workers is above $90,000 in Maryland, Missouri, and North Carolina. On the other end of the spectrum, Vermont and Hawaii pay the least with adjusted median wages of less than $70,000. Mountain states such as Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming also offer below-average wages when adjusted for cost of living.

A color chart of the U.S. showing which states offer the best adjusted median wages for IT Administrators.

To find which metro areas offer the best salaries for IT administrators, researchers at Spanning analyzed median wage and employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES). All median wages were adjusted for the location’s relative cost of living, based on the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Price Parity. For reference, the ranking also includes the unadjusted median wages of IT administrators and all workers in the metro area, the total number of IT administrators employed, and the cost of living relative to the national average. 

The metro areas were also categorized into groups based on population: small (100,000–349,999), midsize (350,000–999,999), and large (1,000,000 or more). 

The regional trends noted above are even more pronounced at the metro level, with some areas in the Midwest and the South offering median adjusted salaries more than 20 percent higher than the national median. Here are the best-paying metropolitan areas for IT administrators.

A list of the 20 best-paying small and midsize metros for IT Administrators.

The Best-Paying Large Metros for IT Administrators

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

20. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $85,888
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $83,140
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $35,660
  • Number of IT administrators: 1,140
  • Cost of living: 3.2% below average
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

19. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $86,190
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $88,000
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $50,630
  • Number of IT administrators: 1,030
  • Cost of living: 2.1% above average
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

18. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $86,241
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $82,360
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $41,620
  • Number of IT administrators: 3,540
  • Cost of living: 4.5% below average
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

17. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $86,812
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $79,520
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $39,030
  • Number of IT administrators: 3,140
  • Cost of living: 8.4% below average
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

16. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $87,456
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $78,710
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $39,620
  • Number of IT administrators: 3,180
  • Cost of living: 10.0% below average
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

15. Kansas City, MO-KS

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $87,761
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $81,530
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $40,640
  • Number of IT administrators: 4,900
  • Cost of living: 7.1% below average
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

14. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $87,795
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $88,410
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $40,430
  • Number of IT administrators: 12,610
  • Cost of living: 0.7% above average
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

13. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $88,485
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $114,500
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $61,980
  • Number of IT administrators: 4,790
  • Cost of living: 29.4% above average
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

12. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $88,808
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $86,410
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $40,000
  • Number of IT administrators: 7,340
  • Cost of living: 2.7% below average
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

11. Cleveland-Elyria, OH

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $89,034
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $80,220
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $40,440
  • Number of IT administrators: 2,210
  • Cost of living: 9.9% below average
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

10. Providence-Warwick, RI-MA

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $89,139
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $89,050
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $42,700
  • Number of IT administrators: 1,550
  • Cost of living: 0.1% below average

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9. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $89,183
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $84,010
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $39,230
  • Number of IT administrators: 3,890
  • Cost of living: 5.8% below average
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

8. Columbus, OH

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $89,826
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $82,550
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $40,380
  • Number of IT administrators: 2,400
  • Cost of living: 8.1% below average
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

7. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $90,010
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $93,250
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $44,590
  • Number of IT administrators: 1,630
  • Cost of living: 3.6% above average
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

6. Birmingham-Hoover, AL

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $91,060
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $80,770
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $38,020
  • Number of IT administrators: 1,540
  • Cost of living: 11.3% below average
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5. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $91,297
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $92,940
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $40,570
  • Number of IT administrators: 8,560
  • Cost of living: 1.8% above average
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

4. Raleigh, NC

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $91,594
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $88,480
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $41,640
  • Number of IT administrators: 2,860
  • Cost of living: 3.4% below average
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

3. Richmond, VA

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $92,279
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $88,680
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $40,590
  • Number of IT administrators: 1,950
  • Cost of living: 3.9% below average

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2. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $99,494
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $106,160
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $45,810
  • Number of IT administrators: 7,670
  • Cost of living: 6.7% above average
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

1. St. Louis, MO-IL

  • Median wage for IT administrators (adjusted): $100,308
  • Median wage for IT administrators (unadjusted): $91,280
  • Median wage for all workers (unadjusted): $40,170
  • Number of IT administrators: 4,240
  • Cost of living: 9.0% below average

 

Methodology & detailed findings

With remote work becoming a new norm, IT administrators benefit from two trends. The first is that increased technology usage, and especially the need to maintain secure computer systems when workers are spread far apart, may increase demand for IT services. The second is that most IT administrators can perform their job responsibilities remotely, so they are not necessarily tied to a particular location. These factors put IT administrators in a strong position to live and work where their dollars will stretch furthest.  

Wage and employment statistics are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES). The survey includes data on all wage and salary workers. It does not include the self-employed. 

For each location, the adjusted median wage for IT administrators was calculated by dividing the unadjusted median wage by its relative cost of living. Relative cost-of-living statistics are from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Price Parity dataset. The final lists are ordered by the cost-of-living-adjusted median wages for IT administrators. In the event of a tie, the location with the higher unadjusted wage was ranked above.

Only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residents and available data from all sources were included in the analysis. Additionally, metropolitan areas were grouped into the following size groups: small (100,000–349,999), midsize (350,000–999,999), and large (1,000,000 or more).