Newly Professional: Top U.S. Cities to Start Your Career

Top U.S. Cities to Start Your Career

As a relatively new graduate, you’ve probably given some thought to which types of jobs you want to apply for. But have you considered which cities are best for your professional development?

Not every city will provide the resources and opportunities you need to advance your career. More importantly, some cities may not provide the culture, diversity and atmosphere that will make you happy in the long term.

Which cities are the best for new professionals? Here are the top cities in the U.S. that are perfect for those just starting their careers:

1. Salt Lake City, Utah

Are you a STEM professional? You’ll be pleased to know that Salt Lake City made it in the top 10 of WalletHub’s Best Metro Areas for STEM Professionals.

In addition, this city is quickly becoming a haven for young professionals in a variety of sectors. Salt Lake City’s dynamic nightlife, varied business sector and hip new restaurants can help explain the appeal.

Part of the charm is also its small-town vibes. In fact, Salt Lake City is often called “Small Lake City” by locals in reference to the city’s size.

2. Charleston, South Carolina

Salt Lake City, Utah

If you’re thinking about moving to Charleston, S.C., now is the time to do so. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Charleston is growing at 3 times the rate of the U.S. population average.

The Holy’s City’s thriving tech scene and fast-growing economy are driving millennials to move to Charleston in droves. The Charleston Digital Corridor, launched in 2001, has significantly helped fuel the city’s tech sector by attracting and supporting technology startups.

Of course, Charleston is more than just its startup scene. With pleasant weather, pristine beaches and award-winning restaurants, it’s easy to see the appeal of this elegant city.

3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Ranked high in affordability, Pittsburgh boasts an up-and-coming tech sector and is quickly turning into a city for young professionals. The City of Bridges offers a great quality of life, decent transit, lots of green space and great bikeability.

Employment rates are up, and Pittsburgh is looking extra appealing for job seekers. The city was recently named one of 2024’s best cities for jobs by WalletHub.

4. Columbus, Ohio

Teeming with businesses, arts, culture and entertainment, Columbus is far more than just college football. Home sale prices and the cost of living are far lower in Columbus than in other big cities in the country, offering young professionals a chance to live on their own.

In addition to its low cost of living, Ohio is famed for its critically acclaimed food scene, brewery districts and many nature preserves. Despite its bustling downtown, the laidback vibes of Columbus make it a great place to settle down.

5. Atlanta, Georgia

Who says San Francisco is the only place for tech professionals? Atlanta is an extremely STEM-friendly city that has recently emerged as an up-and-coming tech industry hub.

WalletHub ranked Atlanta No. 7 on its best metro areas for STEM in 2024, while a CBRE report ranked Atlanta as No. 9 on its list of top-ranked tech talent markets. As such, it’s not surprising that Amazon was once eyeing Atlanta for its next headquarters project.

Georgia is well known for being a business-friendly state, and Atlanta follows that lead. The city has been lauded for its startup scene and entrepreneurial culture, which are supported with resources such as Georgia Tech and Advanced Technology Development Center.

Atlanta, Georgia

6. Fort Myers, Florida

New professionals are eyeing Fort Myers, and for good reason. Attracted by affordable home prices, pleasant weather and pristine beaches, millennials have helped the Fort Myers-Cape Coral metro area become the fastest growing city in the nation.

When the housing bubble burst, Fort Myers suffered greatly along with the rest of the nation. However, the area has largely healed from the financial crisis, and the market is booming once again.

Now, Fort Myers features plenty of resources for entrepreneurs and young professionals to start their careers. From incubator opportunities at the Southwest Florida Enterprise Center to Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce networking events, the Fort Myers-Cape Coral area has everything young professionals need to hit the ground running. 

7. Dallas, Texas

Dallas offers the perfect blend of exciting, big-city amenities with a suburban feel. The city is full of young professionals who are attracted to the city for its growing economy, business-friendly government, sports culture and wide variety of entertainment options.

The food in Dallas is also a huge benefit — literally. In addition to its bountiful dishes, you’ll have a vast array of trendy restaurants and bars to hit up for happy hour.

8. Boise, Idaho

Idaho is one of the fastest-growing states, and its capital city is leading the way. Boise is growing at a rate of 1.7 percent each year, and its job growth rate is keeping pace.

Boise has plenty of resources available to help young professionals advance in their careers. The Boise Young Professionals, launched by the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, helps connect young professionals with likeminded individuals in the area and empower them through professional development. The Treasure Valley SCORE is another organization that helps mentor young professionals by giving them real-world advice to grow their businesses.

It’s also a safe place to start your career. According to the Boise Police Department, Boise’s violent crime rate has been steadily dropping since 1992 and remains below the national average.

Bottom Line

When first applying for jobs, new professionals have a difficult choice ahead of them. While many new graduates wish to live in places like Seattle or San Francisco, the cost of living in these areas isn’t always worth the move.

Fortunately, there are plenty of great places to live that are not only affordable but also provide the resources and atmosphere that will support young professionals.

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