Not so long ago, if you’d told your friends and family you were moving to Wisconsin to pursue a career in technology, they might have thought you were crazy. Everyone knew that the Coasts were the place to go if you were serious about tech, and the high cost of living was just the price you paid for chasing your Silicon Valley dreams.

A lot has changed since then.

Today, Middle America is developing into a thriving hub of tech innovation. Thanks to the cheap office space and large local talent pools, major tech companies like Google are rapidly expanding their operations in the region, and Midwestern tech startups are flourishing. In their wake, countless jobs have been created—many of which don’t require a traditional tech-focused degree.

This tech revolution has fueled economic growth in the region. It’s also created new opportunities for people from all walks of life to discover a rewarding career in tech, whether they come from a computer science background or not.

“New collar” jobs aren’t bound to the coasts

Part of the reason for this Midwest tech boom is the record shortage of skilled workers in the U.S. With tech skills in high demand and unemployment at its lowest rate in five decades, companies are increasingly looking beyond traditional tech degrees to secure the talent they need. Many, including IBM, are turning directly to boot camp grads.

This trend has given rise to a wave of “mid-tech” jobs held by “new collar” workers—those who once might have found themselves locked out of tech careers, now thriving in exciting, well-compensated tech roles.

These jobs don’t require a degree of any sort for entry—only the skills, enthusiasm, and dedication that boot camp training can bring. Data from The Brookings Institute reveals that in 2016, one-third of U.S. employees who held three core mid-tech jobs did not have a bachelor’s degree. That’s 350,000 successful computer network architects, network support specialists, and computer systems analysts without college credo on their resume.

These jobs are everywhere. The Brookings Institute found that, in the same year, the top 15 metros for mid-tech computer and mathematical jobs ranged from Jackson, Michigan, to Ames, Iowa, and from Columbus, Ohio, to Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

San Francisco didn’t even make the list.  

That all boils down to a lot of opportunities in a whole lot of places. And it’s not just mid-tech roles that are becoming more accessible. The same Brookings study found that a whopping 17% of high-tech jobs were helmed by those without a BA in 2016—half a million in total.

Those are only the employees without any kind of college degree. Countless more hold non-tech degrees, ranging from business studies to agricultural science, and from history to the liberal arts. With more tech jobs opening up in the Midwest, people from a vast variety of different backgrounds are finding a new path into the industry—creating more social mobility in the region, and helping residents discover a career they truly love.

From flyover country to the Silicon Prairie

While the lofty ideas, high salaries, and optimism of Silicon Valley are still a big draw for the tech-minded, the Midwest is offering fierce competition. In fact, it’s even been dubbed the “Silicon Prairie.”

This tech renaissance is challenging the enduring perception of the region as “flyover country.” As more businesses put down roots there, the Midwest is undergoing rapid economic growth. This offers countless opportunities for the local communities—from better, higher-paid jobs to ultrafast internet connections.

For those still on the fence about the draw of the Midwest, the region also boasts something that Silicon Valley can’t: a relatively cheap cost of living. Just look at housing prices. In San Francisco, you can expect to pay about $1.1 million for the average home. Head to Lincoln, Nebraska, and a similar home will cost you about $158,000.

The affordable real estate is also great for the companies settling there. Far from just corn and cows, the Midwest is now home to the kind of cool and luxurious tech hubs you see across Silicon Valley.

But one of the biggest draws for businesses is the local talent. With so many prestigious universities in the Midwest, many of which partner with Trilogy to provide intensive training programs, the skilled, passionate professionals they need are right at their fingertips.

Trilogy is dedicated to helping students take advantage of new tech opportunities, whatever part of the country they live in. That’s why we partner with universities across the U.S., not just on the Coasts. In the Midwest alone, our partner programs include: the CWRU Coding and Data Analytics Boot Camps in Cleveland; University of Minnesota Coding and Data Visualization Boot Camps; Northwestern Coding and Data Science Boot Camps in Chicago; KU Coding, Data Analytics, and Cybersecurity Boot Camps in Overland Park; WashU Data Analytics Boot Camp in St. Louis; and the UW-Extension Coding Boot Camp in Milwaukee.

If you’re interested in becoming part of the Midwestern tech renaissance, Trilogy would love to help you take the first step. Learn more about our boot camps in the Silicon Prairie and beyond today!

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