For many college students, the ability to find a job after graduation is their biggest concern. Even before you enroll, you may be worried about the reality of finding a fulfilling career. But there’s an easy way for you to ensure that you’ll get a great job. You need to study in a city where there are plenty of opportunities! This article reveals to you the best colleges in American cities where job openings are literally everywhere.
Attending college in a city with many diverse jobs, as opposed to one that focuses on a certain industry, has its own advantages. Firstly, you’ll be in a place with a more diversified economy, making it more stable. Secondly, you will be able to get a stopgap job more easily, ensuring that you don’t have to move back in with your parents. Thirdly, it’ll give you the opportunity to switch careers with ease, if you want to.
There is a range of lists on the internet that claims to show you which cities will offer you the most job options. The problem with these is that each one uses different ranking criteria. Some focus on the entire job market size. Others take in different data, such as the cost of living in a city, into its ranking. What this ranking does is combine those lists and offer you a definitive guide to the best places in America to both study and work.
Our college selections below all lead to great opportunities. However, they still may not be right for you. Everyone is different and has their own requirements. But this list can still be a useful resource, as you can see what each city and college has going for it. You can also look to see if any of the below cities have a college that suits your needs more closely. Additionally, you can compare the cities in this article to the ones you’re considering studying/living in. All in all, you’re sure to learn some important things from the information below.
Our sources come in two forms: articles that discuss the cities with the best jobs, and articles that discuss the best colleges. Both are relevant to this ranking. Every source is a respected provider of information. Though their rankings may differ, their research methods can be trusted. However, to ensure that their statements are true, we’ve then researched the cities and colleges mentioned.
Our ranking has selected one college per city. This is to ensure that people that read this article are given the most choice in terms of locations. To qualify for our list, each city needs to be featured on at least two methodology sources, with one of the rankings being in the top 10. And each college needs to have been featured on at least two methodology sources.
Five out of six methodology lists consider Omaha, Nebraska to be one of the best places to start a career. It has a strong job market and is incredibly affordable. Indeed places it at 20th but notes that it has the fifth best job market. US News places it at 24th, noting that its median home price is a very low $165,667. WalletHub places it at 55th, but it does note that the city's quality of life is the 23rd best. SmartAsset places it at seventh. Lastly, ZipRecruiter considers it the best city in America for graduates looking to start a career, noting that the healthcare, construction, and energy industries have more positions than they can fill. The top college in this booming town is Creighton University, which is Niche.com's 212th best American college and Forbes's 222nd best college. Creighton University can even help students get into their careers in record time. It does this through the Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's program, which gets students into the workforce one to two years earlier than most degree programs.
San Jose is the only city on this list to get two first-place rankings. And Stanford University makes the top three of every single college focused methodology list. Indeed notes that San Jose has risen from sixth to first in one year. US News places the college at an equal standing with its neighbor, San Francisco, naming them both the best city for jobs. It also notes that San Jose has the highest salary out of America's 125 biggest metropolitan areas, with a median of $78,990. WalletHub is not so generous and considers the city to be the 42nd best college for jobs. The source does note that the city has the 32nd best professional opportunities, however. At present, 69% of graduating students stay in Stanford University's home state of California, with many choosing San Jose as their home.
Only US News gives San Francisco a first place rating, and even then it is tied with another city. But most methodology lists agree that it's an incredible place for graduates. The advantage of San Francisco over US News's other top placed city, San Jose, is that it's got a population more than twice the size and much more diversity in jobs. Indeed places San Francisco at second, noting that its job market favorability, work/life balance, and job security are all factors that contribute to this. WalletHub places the college at 17th but notes that its professional opportunities are the 13th best of any city. SmartAsset places the college at 19th. However, it does consider San Fran to be the most fun city in America. University of California, Berkeley is the top performing college near San Francisco on the methodology lists. Times Higher Education considers it to be the ninth best college for graduate employability in America. Niche.com places it at 37th for best colleges. And Forbes ranks it at 14th. The college also has a campus extension based in the heart of San Francisco itself, which helps with connecting students to the job opportunities in the area.
For a student who wants their career earnings to go a long way, Minneapolis is their best bet. ZipRecruiter notes that its median graduate salary is $51,200 and that its median rent is only $1,655. Overall, the city places at second on the list's ranking. And jobs are easy to come by in Minneapolis. Indeed names it the third best city for job market favorability and places it at sixth overall on its ranking. US News and WalletHub both name it the 11th best city in America for starting a career. And Macalester College outperforms its local rival, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities on both Niche.com and Forbes, ranking at 85th and 87th respectively. Macalester ensures that graduates have strong opportunities for gaining jobs in the local area. This is because "More than 60 courses partner with businesses and organizations in the Twin Cities community."
Four out of six methodology lists name Seattle as one of America's top 25 places for jobs. SmartAsset places it at 24th, noting that it is one of the most fun but expensive places in America. WalletHub places it at 16th. Indeed places it at ninth, noting that its job market is the sixth best in the country. Lastly, US News places it at sixth. It also notes that some of the world's top companies, such as Starbucks, reside in the city. The University of Washington is the best college in this city, according to all three college ranking methodology lists. Times Higher Education places it at 27th for graduate employability. Niche.com names it the 74th best college in America. And Forbes places it at 72nd. The college has a strong office for regional and community relations.
Ranking at 19th on WalletHub, 18th on SmartAsset, 10th on US News and 10th on Livability, the methodology lists agree that Madison is the perfect place for landing a career. US News in particular notes that many startups are attracted to the area, which is a strong source of entry-level employment. WalletHub also considers the city to have the third best quality of life for career starters. University of Wisconsin, Madison is the best college in the area, ranking at 75th on Forbes and 60th on Niche.com. The college is helping its economy thrive in many ways. For example, it runs a free mentorship program for Wisconsin based startups, which has turned many companies into thriving local employers.
The city of Cincinnati's highest ranking comes on SmartAsset, where it places at second for best American city for college grads. It is also the ranking's second most affordable city in America. The city's next best ranking is on Livability, where it places at seventh. It places at 10th on ZipRecruiter, with the source noting that many mega companies are headquartered in the city. Cincinnati's worst placing appears on WalletHub, where it ranks at 35th best place for career starters. And approximately 35 miles from Cincinnati is Miami University. This college makes 156th on Niche's best colleges list and 159th on Forbes's list. The college has been a positive force in its home state. In fact, from 2016 to 2017, its economic impact was $2.3 billion.
All signs point to Denver being a booming city. ZipRecruiter notes that the city is becoming a new Silicon Valley. It also points out that the unemployment rate is only 2.3% and names it the ninth best city for college grads to start their careers. WalletHub considers the city as the eighth best to start a career. Lastly, US News places the city at fifth and notes that the aerospace, defense, and tourism industries are growing significantly. The best college near this city is Colorado School of Mines. Forbes names it the 117th best college in America, and Niche.com named it the 71st best. The college's newsroom is filled with stories of how it is helping the local economy. For instance, GoFarm is a student-run non-profit which improves local food access.
This city makes three methodology lists. WalletHub names it the 13th best city for starting a career. And both SmartAsset and ZipRecruiter consider it to be the fourth best US city for jobs. The only negative about Pittsburgh is that its job market is slightly smaller and its unemployment slightly higher than many other cities on this list. However, both SmartAsset and WalletHub rank it highly for quality of life. The top college to tap into this fun environment is Carnegie Mellon University, with all three college-focused methodology lists naming it one of America's top 50 colleges. The college is quick to praise its home city, from its cultural highlights to outstanding food options.
Of the three job prospect methodology lists that Atlanta features on, SmartAsset places it the lowest, at 25th. The only aspect that stops it gaining a significantly higher ranking on that source is the city's relatively high cost (although on a national scale, it is still low.) Indeed places it at 22nd, but it also notes that the city offers the seventh best salaries in the country. Lastly, WalletHub places Atlanta at third and states that it has the second best professional opportunities in America. And two out of three college ranking methodology sources consider Emory University to be the best college in the city. Forbes names the college the 52nd best in America. Niche.com ranks it at 27th. But Times Higher Education ranks Georgia Institute of Technology higher. However, 40% of Emory's alumni stay in the state of Georgia permanently, meaning that Emory can definitely be a stronger option for those looking to make Atlanta their home.
This college has managed to outperform its local rival, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on two out of three methodology lists. Times Higher Education names it the second best college for graduate employability. Forbes places it at first for best American colleges. Lastly, Niche.com places at third (this is where it loses out to MIT.) Indeed considers Boston to be the third best city in America for job seekers. US News places it at fourth, noting that it is strongest for people looking for education and research careers.
Milwaukee polarizes the methodology lists as a good city for jobs. Indeed, ZipRecruiter and SmartAsset all place it within their top 20. However, the only other list to feature it is WalletHub, which ranks it at 126th and lists its professional opportunities as even lower, at 143rd. This difference in ranking could be due to the specific jobs that Milwaukee caters to. ZipRecruiter states that there are three jobs for every potential employee in the city's arts and entertainment industry. If this is an area you want to work in, then Milwaukee is ideal! The city's best college is Marquette University, which ranks at 175th on Forbes and 219th on Niche.com. The college is based right in the heart of the city and is a great option for anyone looking to integrate themselves with the local businesses.
SmartAsset considers Saint Louis's affordability to be its strongest feature, naming it the ninth best city for college grads. Indeed, on the other hand, considers the starting salaries to be the city's strongest feature and names it the 21st best city for job seekers overall. WalletHub finds another aspect to praise the most, noting that its professional opportunities are abundant and that it is the 18th best city for career starters. The top college in this city is Washington University in Saint Louis, which ranks at 11th place on Niche.com and 35th on Forbes. The college supports its city in a number of ways. It provides free workshops for school children and regularly wins grants to strengthen connections between the college and the local community.
As Georgetown University has been in operation since 1789, it is incredibly well integrated with the government and many of the businesses running in Washington DC. There is no better place to study in America's capital. On top of this, Forbes considers the college to be the 12th best in America. Niche.com names it the 22nd best in the USA. And Times Higher Education considers it to be the 25th best for graduate employability. Washington DC itself places at 36th on WalletHub. It also makes 10th on Indeed's list, with even better scores for work/life balance and job security. Lastly, it makes the third best city for finding a job on US News, which also notes the growing number of businesses locating to the city.
This city tops SmartAsset's list of the best cities for college grads. Interestingly, Columbus doesn't top any of the source's three ranking criteria, namely jobs, affordability or fun, but it is consistent with all three. Indeed places Columbus at 19th, considering its salary prospects its most impressive aspect. Lastly, WalletHub places it at 48th and considers its quality of life to be significantly better than its professional opportunities. All three education-focused methodology lists consider Ohio State University to be the best college in this area. Forbes names it the 122nd best college nationwide. Niche.com considers it to be the 91st best college in America. Lastly, Times Higher Education ranks it at 29th for graduate employability.
Three methodology lists consider San Antonio to be one of the top 30 cities for getting a job. WalletHub places it at 27th. Indeed places it at 17th. SmartAsset gives the city its highest ranking, at sixth place. And Trinity University is the best option for any student who wants to make the city their permanent home. Niche.com considers it to be the 108th best American college. Forbes places it at 129th. The college is especially pleased with San Antonio's small-town feel, even though it is America's seventh largest city.
Each of the three methodology lists that rank Santa Rosa provides different reasons for why it is a great city for employment. WalletHub names it the 66th best in the country overall but considers its professional opportunities the 30th best in the country. US News names it the 12th best job opportunity city, noting its wine and tourism industries as being particularly strong. ZipRecruiter places it at seventh and notes that San Francisco is an hour away. It also states that Santa Rosa has some strong healthcare and government job opportunities. The only college to rank on any methodology list near this city is Sonoma State University. Forbes names it the 445th best college in America. The college is helpful in allowing students to gain temporary and permanent jobs. For instance, it hosts both part-time job fairs and internship fairs.
WalletHub names Orlando as the American city with the most professional opportunities in the country. However, due to a slightly lower quality of life, the city ranks second overall. SmartAsset considers it to be the 15th best city for college grads. And Rollins College gives students many opportunities to immerse themselves in the world of Orlando. Niche.com names it America's 216th best college. Forbes places it at 247th. In fact, Rollins is Florida's oldest college, meaning it is strongly integrated into the state's identity.
This city makes the top 20 of two methodology lists, but it appears at different ends of the rankings. Livability considers Arlington to be the second best city for recent college grads and a great alternative to Washington DC. SmartAsset considers it to be the 20th best city for college grads, noting that it has the best graduate job opportunities of any city on its list. And right in the heart of this thriving job market is George Mason University. Niche.com names it the 279th best college in America, while Forbes ranks it at 169th. The college's Arlington campus is dedicated to graduate and professional programs. It is specifically geared toward working adults who want to advance their careers or take one of the many job opportunities in the area.
Boise City ranks highly on WalletHub and ZipRecruiter. WalletHub names it the 23rd best city for career starters and also notes that it has the ninth-best quality of life. ZipRecruiter states that it is one of America's fastest-growing cities and ranks it as the eighth best city for college grads. And the nearby College of Idaho is Niche.com's 491st best American college, and Forbes's 483rd best college. The college describes Boise City as a place that, "offers numerous cultural, arts and entertainment, dining, and pro sports offerings."
By being located just outside of Sacramento, University of California, Davis gives its students unique career prospects. Indeed considers the city to be the seventh best for job seekers, noting that it offers the 11th best salaries and 11th best work/life balance in America. WalletHub is slightly less generous and considers the city to be the 37th best place to start a career in the USA. However, these figures should be more than enough to convince someone to study at the University of California, Davis, which ranks at 110th and 94th on Niche.com and Forbes's best college lists. Perhaps the best of the college's campuses for students looking to take advantage of Sacramento is UC Davis Health. This division has its campus in the city itself and is the region's only academic health center.
It should be no surprise that WalletHub ranks Nashville, the home of country music, highly for fun. The source considers it to be America's 30th best city for quality of life. The career opportunities aren't as abundant, however, and it only ranks at 49th overall. SmartAsset's ranking has a similar opinion of the city being incredibly fun, but with fewer job prospects than some cities. However, it considers Nashville to be the third best city for new college grads overall. Vanderbilt University is Forbes 32nd best American college and Niche.com's 18th best American college. The college is keen to point out that its home city is America's friendliest city, according to numerous sources.
WalletHub names Kansas City as the 56th best city for starting a career. ZipRecruiter is significantly more impressed, placing it at sixth best for college grads. However, the city is especially appealing to people who are interested in working in clean energy. ZipRecruiter notes that by 2020, the city aims for its operations to be powered by 100% renewable energy. The best college for getting into this exciting new market is Rockhurst University, which is Forbes's 231st and Niche.com's 280th best college in America. Over half of the college's alumni live in Kansas City, serving as the leaders of many businesses in the area.
The sunny city of Miami is the best place in America for job security and advancement, according to Indeed. However, the same ranking also notes that it has the 48th highest salaries in America. Overall, Indeed places the college at eighth best for job seekers. WalletHub places the city somewhat lower, at 40th. But the source does note that the city has the 14th best professional opportunities. The implication of the above sources is clear: if you want a stable career, then Miami is a great place to be. And the best college to start this career is the University of Miami. It ranks at 81st on Niche.com's list and 100th on Forbes's list. And the college's Civic and Community Engagement department has received a number of awards for promoting ties to the local South Florida community.
This Hawaiian paradise makes two methodology lists. US News notes that Honolulu enjoys the lowest unemployment rate out of America's 125 largest metropolitan areas and places it at seventh for best overall job city. WalletHub names the city the 75th best for jobs. However, on national rankings, University of Hawaii, Manoa still has a long way to go. Forbes considers it to be the 387th best college in America. Niche.com names it the 622nd best college in the USA. However, it is incredibly affordable, being over $4,000 less than the average cost of an American public college.
The residents of Jersey City enjoy a thriving local job market, affordable living and easy access to New York City. WalletHub considers it to be the 81st best city for jobs in America, which is more than twice as high as it ranks New York City. Livability is much more impressed and considers it to be the third best city for college grads. And just above Jersey City, in Hoboken, is Stevens Institute of Technology. It ranks at 160th on Forbes's best colleges list and 92nd on Niche.com's list. The college is definitely more focused upon Hoboken, but Jersey City and NYC also benefit significantly from its activities!
According to WalletHub, the enjoyment of Louisville is what is really attractive for job seekers. The city ranks at 53rd for quality of life. Overall, the source considers it to be the 83rd best job prospect city. However, SmartAsset considers the affordability of Louisville to be its most appealing quality. The source ranks the city as the eighth best for college grads in America. And the University of Louisville places at 296th on Niche.com's top American colleges. It also places at 429th on Forbes's similar ranking. The college itself boasts about Louisville's affordable housing and substantially lower cost of living compared to the national averages.
America's second most populous city is surprisingly low on the methodology lists for job opportunities. Only Indeed places the city in its top 10, at fifth place. But the source also notes that it is America's best city for work/life balance. WalletHub considers it to only be the 132nd best city in America for finding a job. However, despite these job market results, Times Higher Education considers California Institute of Technology to be the college that produces the most employable graduates. Additionally, Niche.com names it the 10th best college in America, and Forbes considers it to be the sixth best US college. Many Caltech alumni have started Los Angeles based tech startups, meaning that those newly graduating have an inside track on local job prospects!
This New England city may not be as famous as some places on this list, but it's a strong choice for career starters. US News states that unemployment in the city is only 2.7% and names it the ninth best US city for finding a job. WalletHub is less generous, naming it the 101st best city in America for beginning a career. Just 33 miles away from Manchester is University of New Hampshire's main campus in the city of Durham. However, it does have a second campus located in the heart of Manchester itself. This Manchester-based campus enjoys an 11:1 student to faculty ratio, a range of high tech facilities and generous financial aid opportunities. It ranks at 300th on Niche.com's best US colleges list and 258th on Forbes's similar list.
In the methodology's 2018 lists, New York City fares poorly for one of the most successful cities on earth. US News ranks it in its top 10, naming it the eighth best place to find a job. But the only other list to feature it is WalletHub, which names it the 165th best city for starting a career. Indeed specifies why the city is omitted from its list, noting that the population of the city is falling. However, it cannot be denied that NYC is still full of career opportunities. And thanks to the number of people leaving, rental prices in the NYC boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens are falling. Columbia University is the top New York City college on all three college ranking methodology lists. Times Higher Education places it at third for graduate employability. Niche.com considers it to be the seventh best college in America. Forbes names it America's 15th best college.
By BVS Staff July 2020
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