If those hours spent staring into the video conferencing void have you rethinking your professional priorities, you're not alone. One-third of millennials plan to change jobs after the pandemic, and with signs of economic recovery showing up in many sectors, we're on the verge of a return to the job-hopping that this generation is known for. Combined with an uptick in domestic migration, the time is ripe to shake up not only how you earn a living, but where you live your life.
There's one place ready to welcome you on both fronts: Northern Virginia (or NOVA for short), a tech hub with thousands of open positions and exceptional quality of life. Located just across the river from Washington, DC, the region doesn't scream "tech town" like Silicon Valley or New York, but in that way it's the industry's best-kept secret. The DC metro area is the most concentrated tech talent market in the country after San Francisco, with tech positions representing 8.3 percent of all jobs in the region (second to the Bay Area's 10.5 percent.) In Northern Virginia's largest county, Fairfax, one out of every four jobs is tech-related.
Tech jobs in NOVA
The most famous "help wanted" sign might be at Amazon. Following the company's decision to build their second headquarters — HQ2 — in Northern Virginia in 2018, Amazon needs to fill 25,000 high-tech jobs in the region. Facebook, Google, and other big names have set up shop, too; Microsoft, for instance, will need to recruit some 1,500 NOVA-based workers for its new $64 million software development hub in Reston, a deal sealed mid-pandemic. Smaller tech firms in the area, too — fueled by constant demand from federal agencies across the river and the Fortune 500 headquarters in NOVA itself — are expanding their workforces. Many of them participate regularly in Northern Virginia's ongoing series of virtual career fairs, where nearly 5,700 conversations have been logged between participating job seekers and hiring reps from an all-star lineup of companies.
All told, NOVA is a job-hopper's paradise. At any given time there are more than 100,000 open jobs in the region, about half in tech fields. And this isn't just a post-pandemic boom: Throughout the last year, tech opportunities in NOVA were cropping up by the thousands. The DC area was the number one metro for tech job postings in the country — over San Francisco and New York City — throughout the second and fourth quarters of 2020.
NOVA’s culture and community
So, once you've given your two weeks at the old place and you're knee-deep in onboarding materials at the new one, what does NOVA have to offer when 6 o'clock rolls around? There's a wealth of reasons why tech workers want to live in Northern Virginia, not just work there. The region is minutes away from the nation's capital on the DC Metro's Silver, Orange, Blue, and Yellow lines, which means all the comforts of suburban square footage with quick access to big city amenities (like more than 20 free museums.) When it's time to head home after you've gotten your culture fix, Northern Virginia has endless combinations of neighborhoods and housing options for whatever fits your lifestyle, from the high rises of Arlington within eyeshot of the National Mall to the wide open spaces of Fauquier County at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As far as tech markets go, the median home cost in NOVA's Fairfax County is nearly 50 percent less than in the Bay Area (with average healthcare costs and utility bills below the national average, too.)
Another key differentiator from other tech hubs: diversity. Nearly half of Northern Virginia's population is non-white, 27 percent of residents were born outside the US, and 40 percent of businesses are minority-owned. When it comes to tech, the DC region has the highest percentage of Black STEM professionals in the country and ranks the best for gender diversity in the field.
So, if the job-hopping boom is going to take you across state lines, consider landing in Northern Virginia. A high-paying tech job and a backyard? It's a post-COVID dream waiting to become reality. Start your job search here.