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About Zippia's Best States Rankings

A detailed look into how we determined the best states for different careers.

What Is Zippia?

Zippia is a website that helps you discover new jobs and career paths that are right for you. We rigorously analyze public data sets, millions of resumes, and millions of current job postings to produce comprehensive rankings and profiles of companies. We combine that with a detailed job questionnaire to find the right matching company and job for you. Every month, hundreds of thousands of job seekers use Zippia to research companies and jobs.

How We Calculated Our Best States Rankings

Here at Zippia, we talk to a lot of people of all different backgrounds looking for jobs. Our research has concluded that most job seekers find two things to be important.

  • Job availability in a certain area

  • Higher pay

So in order to find out the best states for each job in America we needed to figure out where the jobs are and how well people in the position get paid. This led to the following criteria taken from our ever updating database of open jobs and salary data:

  • Location quotient - a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients at https://data.bls.gov/cew/doc/info/location_quotients.htm

  • Median salary (higher is better)

  • Cost of living (lower is better)

To make all the salary numbers more apples to apples across states, we compared the salary data relative to the state's cost of living.

Applying this standardization allows us to account for that fact that it costs more to live in certain states. For example, the average salary for a software engineer in California is $116,387 and the average salary in Illinois is $78,637.

However, after adjusting for the cost of living, the California salary becomes $97,100 and the Illinois salary becomes $76,344.

In order to develop an overall ranking, we ranked each state for each criteria from 1 to 51 (including Washington, D.C.) where 1 was the best.

We then averaged all the rankings for a state into a 'Job Score' with the state having the lowest overall 'Job Score' earning the distinction of being the best state for each type of job in America.