Here Are the Best & Worst Cities to Start Your Career

Stepping into the job market for the first time is always intimidating. There are a million reasons to stress out about your first year in the workforce (What if you hate what you've been training to do? What if nobody likes you? What's a W-2?), but first you have to get the job, and doing that will be a lot easier if you're looking in the right place.

So heed this new report from WalletHub of the best and worst places to start a career in 2018. To put this ranking together, WalletHub surveyed the relative job market strength and overall livability of 182 US cities, breaking them down by 27 metrics including availability of entry-level jobs and average starting salary. Those metrics were graded on a 100-point scale, and each city was given a weighted average across all the metrics to reach an overall score. The results were finally ranked using that score.

WalletHub also made a handy map that allows you to get a look at the country at large before we dig into specifics.

10 best cities to start a career

10. Grand Rapids, Michigan
9. Raleigh, North Carolina
8. Denver, Colorado
7. Columbia, South Carolina
6. Austin, Texas
5. Tempe, Arizona
4. Charleston, South Carolina
3. Atlanta, Georgia
2. Orlando, Florida
1. Salt Lake City, Utah

10 worst cities to start a career

10. Detroit, Michigan
9. North Las Vegas, Nevada
8. Jackson, Mississippi
7. Newport News, Virginia
6. Montgomery, Alabama
5. Newark, New Jersey
4. Hialeah, Florida
3. Oxnard, California
2. Shreveport, Louisiana
1. Santa Clarita, California

Check out the full report to learn more, but here are a few highlights. First, as you probably noticed, the top 10 on both sides don't feature the cities that might first come to mind -- the New Yorks, LAs, and SFs -- but that's probably good news if you're trying to break into a given field. Smaller cities tend to have more entry-level jobs and are more affordable. If you're looking to live in a true city, Atlanta and Denver are both strong options. If you want to move somewhere smaller, Austin and Charleston will get you high salaries and a bunch of entry-level jobs, respectively, and both are all-around incredible places to live, with great climates, which isn't something you can say about New York. 

One thing you can say about New York, however, is that is that it has the fewest entry-level jobs per working-age population of any city included in the ranking. But that still wasn't enough to land it on the bottom of the list. That honor was reserved for cities like Newark and Detroit with low job growth and uncompetitive salaries. The lowest on the list over all was Santa Clarita, California, which landed near the bottom for entry-level jobs. In fact, California was one of the only states to have two cities on the bottom 10, whereas South Carolina was the only state to have two cities on the top 10.

This all definitely depends on your industry. If you're looking to get into showbiz, maybe don't pack your bags for Charleston. But if you have an open mind career-wise, that might be just where you want to be.

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James Chrisman is a News Writer at Thrillist. Send news tips to and follow him on Twitter @james_chrisman2.