The Best Cities in the U.S. for High-Paying Entry-Level Jobs
So, you're ready to dive into the working world. But where should you go to kickstart your career and make some serious dough?
Say hello to the best cities in the country where you can land high-paying, entry-level jobs. These places not only pay higher than the median average for workers just starting out, but they also offer a great work-life balance.
15. Fayetteville, Arkansas
Percent of entry-level job ads above median wage: 74.9
Bottom Line: Fayetteville, Arkansas
Fayetteville not only offers diverse job opportunities in industries like education, healthcare, food services, construction, and government, but it also provides an excellent quality of life with a low cost of living.
When you're not working, the city's thriving arts scene and abundance of outdoor activities will help you strike the perfect work-life balance.
14. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Percent of entry-level job ads above median wage: 75.1
Bottom Line: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Sioux Falls has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years. The landscape for entry-level job seekers is certainly promising, as healthcare, agriculture and financial services provide numerous high-paying entry-level positions. Moreover, as the city's manufacturing and tech sectors expand, there's a growing demand for talent in production, engineering, and IT.
On top of Sioux Falls' booming job market, its relatively low cost of living makes it an appealing destination for young professionals.
13. Bowling Green, Kentucky
Percent of entry-level job ads above median wage: 75.4
Bottom Line: Bowling Green, Kentucky
You can stretch your dollars a bit further in Bowling Green than you can in many other cities in the U.S., which means you can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle as an entry-level worker without breaking the bank.
Despite its sleepy, small town vibe, Bowling Green economy is anchored by several key industries — the General Motors Bowling Green Assembly Plant is a big employer, as is Western Kentucky University (WKU).
Manufacturing, healthcare and agriculture all contribute to Bowling Green's strong job market and the city's overall prosperity, making it an attractive destination for both companies and job seekers.
12. Des Moines, Iowa
Percent of entry-level job ads above median wage: 75.6
Bottom Line: Des Moines, Iowa
If your desired industry is insurance, look no further than Des Moines, which a major hub for the industry. The city is also strong in financial-services, healthcare, and tech. Wells Fargo, Hy-Vee, Principal Financial Group and Unity Point Health are some of the bigger employers here.
Plus, the cost of living is Des Moines more than manageable, making it a very attractive place for a fresh start.
11. Boise, Idaho
Percent of entry-level job ads above median wage: 77.5
Bottom Line: Boise, Idaho
You don't really have to live in Silicon Valley to work in tech — in fact, Boise is such a tech hub that its earned the moniker "Tech Town" thanks to the presence of companies like Micron and Hewlett Packard.
Healthcare is another thriving sector, with hospitals, clinics, and healthcare companies offering many entry-level positions that pay well. And let's not forget about the outdoor industry. Boise's proximity to the Idaho wilderness means there are plenty of jobs related to outdoor recreation and tourism.
10. San Francisco, California
Percent of entry-level job ads above median wage: 77.6
Bottom Line: San Francisco, California
Everyone knows San Francisco has had its share of problems in recent years. Crime in certain areas (it should be noted not the whole city) is high and it is very expensive to live in and around the Bay Area.
So why live here? Because the entry-level jobs pay well. Too-many-to-count tech firms are headquartered in the City by the Bay — they include Meta, Lyft, Twitter, Reddit, Fitbit, and Yelp, among others.
If you're looking to get your foot in the door of high tech, San Francisco is the place to be.
9. Oakland, California
Percent of entry-level job ads above median wage: 77.7
Bottom Line: Oakland, California
Oakland is also somewhat expensive, but less so than San Francisco while being in close proximity. It's extremely easy to live there and commute from one place to the other.
Oakland also has its share of high-paying jobs for those just starting out. Companies such as Kaiser Permanente, Cost Plus, MLB's Oakland Athletics, and BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) are all big employers here, although the Athletics are preparing to move to Las Vegas.
8. New Haven, Connecticut
Percent of entry-level job ads above median wage: 78
Bottom Line: New Haven, Connecticut
If you want a smaller town with distinctly east coast vibe, New Haven's got you. For those looking for work in healthcare or finance, there are plenty of entry level positions to choose from. But education is the New Haven's biggest employer — Yale University is smack in the middle of the city and employs thousands.
Should you choose New Haven, you can be New York City or Boston in no time — both are about two hours away by train. And if you're looking for a place to live, New Haven's got everything from historic homes to modern apartments, so you can find your perfect spot.
7. Hartford, Connecticut
Percent of entry-level job ads above median wage: 78
Bottom Line: Hartford, Connecticut
While Des Moines is a major hub for the insurance industry, Hartford has been dubbed the "Insurance Capital of the World," as it is home to many insurance and financial services companies. Manufacturing is also a major industry that employs thousands.
Housing in Hartford is a little less than the national average, and the city boasts over 300 art venues and cultural attractions to choose from, so there is always something to do.
6. Lexington, Kentucky
Percent of entry-level job ads above median wage: 78.2
Bottom Line: Lexington, Kentucky
Southern charm, a low cost of living, and horses make Lexington, Kentucky a desirable place to live. The city is known as the "Horse Capital of the World," and its equestrian culture, encompassing farm management to veterinary care, is known worldwide due to events like the Kentucky Derby.
The University of Kentucky also employs thousands, as does agriculture, the healthcare sector, manufacturing and tech.
5. Fort Smith, Arkansas
Percent of entry-level job ads above median wage: 79.7
Bottom Line: Fort Smith, Arkansas
While it's one of the smaller towns on our list, Fort Smith nevertheless provides diverse and good-paying entry level job opportunities. The city boasts a range of industries, including healthcare, education and manufacturing. Sparks Health System, Mercy Hospital Fort Smith, Fort Smith Public Schools and OK Foods are some of its biggest employers.
Fort Smith is also inexpensive, and its proximity to the Ozarks and the Ouachita Mountains is a boon for nature lovers.
4. Kansas City, Kansas
Percent of entry-level job ads above median wage: 83.1
Bottom Line: Kansas City, Kansas
Kansas City is a mid-sized city that costs much less than many major metropolitan areas. The region is the state's second largest for employment and is comprised of five counties.
Industries in Kansas City include eCommerce, healthcare, manufacturing, animal health, tech, transportation and distribution, and the financial industry. Of these, healthcare, tech and finance, offer relatively competitive entry level salaries.
3. Jackson, Mississippi
Percent of entry-level job ads above median wage: 84.8
Bottom Line: Jackson, Mississippi
Whether you're a young professional starting your career or a family looking for a place to call home, Jackson's affordability makes it an appealing choice for those seeking a cost-effective lifestyle.
A mix of industries drive the economy in Jackson and include healthcare, education, manufacturing, and government, all which offer higher than average entry level salaries.
2. Iowa City, Iowa
Percent of entry-level job ads above median wage: 87.7
Bottom Line: Iowa City, Iowa
Education and healthcare are the standout industries when it comes to competitive entry-level salaries in Iowa City. The city is home to the University of Iowa, which is not only a major education employer but also a major healthcare employer through its hospitals and clinics.
Additionally, Iowa City has a growing tech sector, also thanks to the University of Iowa's culture of innovation.
1. Bozeman, Montana
Percent of entry-level job ads above median wage: 87.8
Bottom Line: Bozeman, Montana
Wide open spaces and good paying jobs are the name of the game in Bozeman. Nearly 88 percent of its advertised entry level jobs offer a higher than median wage.
Bozeman has a strong tourist industry thanks to Yellowstone National Park, which brings in visitors year-round. There's also a growing tech scene, with startups and tech companies choosing Bozeman as their base in recent years. Agriculture and ranching round out the picture as big players in the local economy.