The number of skilled jobs in technology that don’t require a college degree is growing across the US. The country is witnessing the rise of “mid-tech.”
Glittering software jobs plentiful in Silicon Valley (median salary $142,000) overshadow mid-tech jobs, loosely defined as tech jobs not requiring less a Bachelor’s degree or more. But the jobs offer an entry point into the digital economy for areas that can’t compete with tech hubs such as San Francisco and New York.
More and more technical jobs are becoming blue-collar ones. “The modern factory job is a mid-tech job,” Patrick McKenna, a serial entrepreneur and investor, told Quartz last year. While not an official government designation, mid-tech has been a topic of study for the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, a nonprofit public policy research group.
In a national analysis of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ O*NET database released this week, Brookings found that “statistical evidence confirms that educational pedigree isn’t a non-negotiable requirement in tech.” The researchers examined educational attainment in 13 computer and mathematical occupations. Of the 914,000 workers in these fields, 38% did not have a Bachelor’s degree. The largest share of these 350,000 workers were computer network architects, network support specialists, and computer systems analysts, often responsible for designing and managing companies’ computing systems. Even among computer programmers, 20% did not have college degrees.
Mid-tech jobs were especially prevalent in the Midwest, headquarters to many Fortune 500 companies, but states with the highest share of such jobs included Maine, Delaware Arizona and the Carolinas. Mid-tech jobs were common in metro areas from small Lakeland, Florida, to the mid-sized Rust Belt cities of Toledo and Akron, Ohio.
As traditional industries such as manufacturing and retail ramp up their spending on technology, a number of smaller towns grabbed top spots outside the big tech hubs of Silicon Valley, New York, Seattle and Los Angeles. Below are the top cities and states for mid-tech jobs in the US.