Best and Worst Cities To Score Your Dream Job

Thinking about switching jobs this year? Nearly 1 in 4 Americans said their top 2020 career resolution was to look for a new job, according to a survey by workflow automation system Zapier. Clearly, plenty of other people are thinking about making a change.
Before you start searching, though, consider what you want in a new job. Is it higher pay, a better workplace environment, advancement opportunities or work-life balance? The best jobs typically have all of those attributes. They also tend to be in fields or industries that are growing — which means there are more openings for these jobs. For job seekers, that’s a win-win.
The key, then, is figuring out where those opportunities are available. After all, to land your dream job, you may have to move. The job you want might not be available in the city where you currently live, and even if it is, you might find that you could get paid much more for doing the same thing elsewhere.
To help you with your job search, GOBankingRates identified the best — and worst — cities to score your dream job. First, GOBankingRates looked at U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best jobs in 2020, which includes careers that pay well, offer room for advancement, and provide a good work-life balance. GOBankingRates then used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine which metropolitan statistical areas offer the highest and lowest wages for 50 of those jobs.
For metro areas that encompass more than one city (e.g., San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California), only the first city (San Jose) was used. The study is ordered according to U.S. News & World Report’s ranking. If you’re looking to make more money in 2020, these are the best places to score your dream job.

Young female entrepreneur working at her office.
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1. Software Developer

  • Best city to score this job: San Jose, California
    • Average annual wage: $144,210
  • Worst city to score this job: Lafayette, Louisiana
    • Average annual wage: $55,810
Dentist
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2. Dentist

  • Best city to score this job: Eugene, Oregon
    • Average annual wage: $207,800
  • Worst city to score this job: Shreveport, Louisiana
    • Average annual wage: $70,960
Two doctors holding and looking at an x-ray in front of a senior female patient.
aldomurillo / Getty Images/iStockphoto

3. Physician Assistant

  • Best city to score this job: Danbury, Connecticut
    • Average annual wage: $146,000
  • Worst city to score this job: Muncie, Indiana
    • Average annual wage: $61,230
Mature male orthodontist looking at X-ray image.
xavierarnau / Getty Images

4. Orthodontist

  • Best city to score this job: Boston
    • Average annual wage: $277,770
  • Worst city to score this job: Milwaukee
    • Average annual wage: $140,350
nurse-practicioner
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5. Nurse Practitioner

  • Best city to score this job: New Bedford, Massachusetts
    • Average annual wage: $156,980
  • Worst city to score this job: Auburn, Alabama
    • Average annual wage: $75,620statistician
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6. Statistician

  • Best city to score this job: Bridgeport, Connecticut
    • Average annual wage: $142,520
  • Worst city to score this job: College Station, Texas
    • Average annual wage: $50,510
Young female speech therapist helping a young patient with her technique.
FatCamera / Getty Images

7. Speech-Language Pathologist

  • Best city to score this job: Napa, California
    • Average annual wage: $106,620
  • Worst city to score this job: Idaho Falls, Idaho
    • Average annual wage: $51,300
Maxillofacial-Surgeon
UfaBizPhoto / Shutterstock.com

8. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

  • Best city to score this job: Washington
    • Average annual wage: $283,480
  • Worst city to score this job: Oklahoma City
    • Average annual wage: $222,140
A veterinarian or veterinary technician examining a dog with a stethoscope in a clinic
tdub303 / iStock.com

9. Veterinarian

  • Best city to score this job: Lubbock, Texas
    • Average annual wage: $228,450
  • Worst city to score this job: Little Rock, Arkansas
    • Average annual wage: $59,800
a medical salesman or administrator is sitting with a female doctor and running through a presentation .
sturti / Getty Images

10. Medical and Health Services Manager

  • Best city to score this job: Vallejo, California
    • Average annual wage: $157,240
  • Worst city to score this job: Johnstown, Pennsylvania
    • Average annual wage: $71,890
project management
David Pereiras / Shutterstock.com

11. Information Technology Manager

  • Best city to score this job: San Jose, California
    • Average annual wage: $205,650
  • Worst city to score this job: Morristown, Tennessee
    • Average annual wage: $83,060
gp examines male patients hand.
sturti / iStock.com

12. Registered Nurse

  • Best city to score this job: Salinas, California
    • Average annual wage: $131,710
  • Worst city to score this job: Sebring, Florida
    • Average annual wage: $49,100
mathematician working on calculus problems
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13. Mathematician

  • Best city to score this job: Washington
    • Average annual wage: $138,900
  • Worst city to score this job: San Francisco
    • Average annual wage: $87,150
Shot of a young male physiotherapist assisting a senior patient in recovery.
Rowan Jordan / Getty Images

14. Physical Therapist

  • Best city to score this job: Ames, Iowa
    • Average annual wage: $118,870
  • Worst city to score this job: Burlington, North Carolina
    • Average annual wage: $68,120
A patient is having an eye examination by the optometrist.
AMR Image / Getty Images/iStockphoto

15. Optometrist

  • Best city to score this job: Hartford, Connecticut
    • Average annual wage: $203,390
  • Worst city to score this job: Tampa, Florida
    • Average annual wage: $78,350
Female anaesthetist holding mask on senior man's face and looking towards colleague with serious expression.
JohnnyGreig / Getty Images

16. Anesthesiologist

  • Best city to score this job: Elkhart, Indiana
    • Average annual wage: $289,910
  • Worst city to score this job: Barnstable Town, Massachusetts
    • Average annual wage: $93,080
surgeon operating on his patient
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17. Surgeon

  • Best city to score this job: Greenville, North Carolina
    • Average annual wage: $289,460
  • Worst city to score this job: Grand Rapids, Michigan
    • Average annual wage: $86,870
obstetrician
Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock.com

18. Obstetrician and Gynecologist

  • Best city to score this job: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
    • Average annual wage: $288,240
  • Worst city to score this job: Grand Rapids, Michigan
    • Average annual wage: $109,640
Businesswoman explaining graph to colleagues in office.
jacoblund / Getty Images/iStockphoto

19. Operations Research Analyst

  • Best city to score this job: Boulder, Colorado
    • Average annual wage: $116,690
  • Worst city to score this job: Pine Bluff, Arkansas
    • Average annual wage: $48,140
Nurse anesthetist putting oxygen mask to patient during surgery
andresr / iStock.com

20. Nurse Anesthetist

  • Best city to score this job: Akron, Ohio
    • Average annual wage: $285,460
  • Worst city to score this job: North Port, Florida
    • Average annual wage: $71,460
Family doctor attending toddler.
Weekend Images Inc. / Getty Images

21. Pediatrician

  • Best city to score this job: Montgomery, Alabama
    • Average annual wage: $285,070
  • Worst city to score this job: Grand Rapids, Michigan
    • Average annual wage: $63,680
Cloud Computing
alvarez / iStock.com

22. Web Developer

  • Best city to score this job: San Francisco
    • Average annual wage: $106,940
  • Worst city to score this job: Evansville, Indiana
    • Average annual wage: $40,140
Nejron Photo / Shutterstock.com

23. Dental Hygienist

  • Best city to score this job: Fairbanks, Alaska
    • Average annual wage: $113,190
  • Worst city to score this job: Daphne, Alabama
    • Average annual wage: $41,700
Counselling appointment for young asian woman student in counsellor College office.
martinedoucet / Getty Images

24. Genetic Counselor

  • Best city to score this job: San Francisco
    • Average annual wage: $102,780
  • Worst city to score this job: Baltimore
    • Average annual wage: $64,610
A female physical therapist examining a young African American man on a treatment table.
kali9 / Getty Images

25. Physical Therapist Assistant

  • Best city to score this job: Morristown, Tennessee
    • Average annual wage: $80,460
  • Worst city to score this job: Logan, Utah
    • Average annual wage: $33,650
Call center workers sitting by the desk in their office and working.
vgajic / Getty Images

26. Financial Manager

  • Best city to score this job: New York
    • Average annual wage: $208,670
  • Worst city to score this job: Hinesville, Georgia
    • Average annual wage: $65,700
Physiotherapist correcting her senior patient with his shoulder posture as he lifts free weights both looking focused and smiling.
andresr / Getty Images

27. Occupational Therapist

  • Best city to score this job: Las Vegas
    • Average annual wage: $108,190
  • Worst city to score this job: Joplin, Missouri
    • Average annual wage: $46,310
database-administrator
Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock.com

28. Database Administrator

  • Best city to score this job: Dover, New Hampshire
    • Average annual wage: $113,220
  • Worst city to score this job: Billings, Montana
    • Average annual wage: $51,990
Happy African American insurance agent going through reports while having consultations with a couple during the meeting.
Drazen Zigic / Getty Images/iStockphoto

29. Financial Advisor

  • Best city to score this job: Gainesville, Georgia
    • Average annual wage: $215,840
  • Worst city to score this job: Florence, South Carolina
    • Average annual wage: $49,350
A young latin engineer calibrating a large drill with his laptop in his shop.
aldomurillo / Getty Images

30. Mechanical Engineer

  • Best city to score this job: Anchorage, Alaska
    • Average annual wage: $147,570
  • Worst city to score this job: Farmington, New Mexico
    • Average annual wage: $56,760
Engineer or Architect checking architectural drawing while wearing a personal protective equipment safety helmet at construction site.
Zephyr18 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

31. Civil Engineer

  • Best city to score this job: Anchorage, Alaska
    • Average annual wage: $132,680
  • Worst city to score this job: Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
    • Average annual wage: $58,740
Psychiatrist listening to a patient speak about problems
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32. Psychiatrist

  • Best city to score this job: Seattle
    • Average annual wage: $285,030
  • Worst city to score this job: Bellingham, Washington
    • Average annual wage: $71,450
A female mental health professional with gray hair looks intently at a husband and wife who have come to her office to discuss relationship problems.
asiseeit / iStock.com

33. Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor

  • Best city to score this job: St. George, Utah
    • Average annual wage: $75,000
  • Worst city to score this job: Terre Haute, Indiana
    • Average annual wage: $26,450
Pregnant counselor advising young lesbian couple at their home.
NoSystem images / Getty Images

34. School Psychologist

  • Best city to score this job: Vallejo, California
    • Average annual wage: $119,110
  • Worst city to score this job: Columbus, Indiana
    • Average annual wage: $43,200
Indoor shot of smiling senior man and female carer enjoying coffee in living room.
Dean Mitchell / Getty Images

35. Home Health Aide

  • Best city to score this job: Santa Rosa, California
    • Average annual wage: $51,680
  • Worst city to score this job: Abilene, Texas
    • Average annual wage: $18,530
information security analyst
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36. Information Security Analyst

  • Best city to score this job: New York
    • Average annual wage: $128,420
  • Worst city to score this job: Lafayette, Louisiana
    • Average annual wage: $54,570
Doctor doing his medical rounds at the hospital listening to a senior patients lungs.
andresr / Getty Images

37. Respiratory Therapist

  • Best city to score this job: Salinas, California
    • Average annual wage: $97,130
  • Worst city to score this job: Decatur, Alabama
    • Average annual wage: $44,500
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monkeybusinessimages / iStock.com

38. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

  • Best city to score this job: Salinas, California
    • Average annual wage: $114,250
  • Worst city to score this job: Burlington, North Carolina
    • Average annual wage: $44,270
The mature adult African American bank officer helps the Hispanic mid adult female soldier understand the terminology in the loan application form.
SDI Productions / Getty Images

39. Accountant

  • Best city to score this job: New York
    • Average annual wage: $99,900
  • Worst city to score this job: Carbondale, Illinois
    • Average annual wage: $53,680
Business team discusses a business plan with diagrams, documents and digital devices in the office.
filadendron / Getty Images

40. Market Research Analyst

  • Best city to score this job: San Jose, California
    • Average annual wage: $97,240
  • Worst city to score this job: Idaho Falls, Idaho
    • Average annual wage: $33,320
woman giving presentation
garetsworkshop / Shutterstock.com

41. Marketing Manager

  • Best city to score this job: San Jose, California
    • Average annual wage: $197,130
  • Worst city to score this job: Idaho Falls, Idaho
    • Average annual wage: $70,320
View of odiatrist using special grinding equipment and making procedure polish for feet.
Lyashik / Getty Images/iStockphoto

42. Podiatrist

  • Best city to score this job: Charlotte, North Carolina
    • Average annual wage: $256,950
  • Worst city to score this job: Los Angeles
    • Average annual wage: $78,040
Asian woman engineer working in the forest
bee32 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

43. Environmental Engineer

  • Best city to score this job: Anchorage, Alaska
    • Average annual wage: $138,810
  • Worst city to score this job: Wheeling, West Virginia
    • Average annual wage: $28,080
male customer service manager
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44. Social and Community Service Manager

  • Best city to score this job: Greeley, Colorado
    • Average annual wage: $99,800
  • Worst city to score this job: Idaho Falls, Idaho
    • Average annual wage: $41,010
Two women at a meeting with a financial advisor.
ferrantraite / Getty Images

45. Lawyer

  • Best city to score this job: San Jose, California
    • Average annual wage: $207,950
  • Worst city to score this job: Hickory, North Carolina
    • Average annual wage: $63,360
Shot of a couple having an argument during a counseling session with a therapist.
laflor / Getty Images

46. Marriage and Family Therapist

  • Best city to score this job: Provo, Utah
    • Average annual wage: $95,670
  • Worst city to score this job: Chattanooga, Tennessee
    • Average annual wage: $31,330
medical assistant
©Shutterstock.com

47. Medical Assistant

  • Best city to score this job: Vallejo, California
    • Average annual wage: $46,170
  • Worst city to score this job: Laredo, Texas
    • Average annual wage: $23,260
Industrial designers at the office discussing project on the computer.
Xavier Arnau / Getty Images

48. Computer Systems Analyst

  • Best city to score this job: San Jose, California
    • Average annual wage: $120,390
  • Worst city to score this job: Decatur, Illinois
    • Average annual wage: $54,500
Red head woman working in office and dealing with market financial charts and graphs.
Drazen_ / Getty Images

49. Actuary

  • Best city to score this job: Bridgeport, Connecticut
    • Average annual wage: $151,300
  • Worst city to score this job: Akron, Ohio
    • Average annual wage: $70,310
Medical records and health information technician in hospital archives
XiXinXing / iStock.com

50. Medical Records Technician

  • Best city to score this job: Atlantic City, New Jersey
    • Average annual wage: $62,520
  • Worst city to score this job: Wichita Falls, Texas
    • Average annual wage: $29,800

    Methodology: To find the best and worst cities to score your dream job, GOBankingRates looked at U.S. News & World Report’s “100 Best Jobs” 2020 report and selected 50 jobs from the list. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2018 occupational employment statistics were used to find each occupation’s highest and lowest average annual wage by metropolitan statistical area. The MSA that provided the highest average annual wage for each job was designated as the best city to score that job. The MSA that provided the lowest average annual wage for each job was designated as the worst city to score that job. All data used to conduct this study was compiled and verified on Jan. 17, 2020, and is subject to change. 
    Researcher’s note: In cases where multiple cities were represented within one MSA (e.g., San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California), GOBankingRates listed only the first city (San Jose) for clarity and reader experience.