Paul Maidment, Forbes
If you want to find the top-paying jobs in the U.S. tech industry, you may want to look in the obvious places -- Montgomery, Ala., Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Fort Smith, Ark., for instance. Surprised? So were we. But for those looking to make top dollar as programmers, systems engineers and hardware technicians, these seemingly technologically out-of-the-way metros rival better-known high-tech hubs like San Francisco, Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., for wages. Such places often have niche local employers for IT professionals, not to mention much lower costs of living than the industry's traditional epicenters. A programmer earning $100,000 per year in San Jose, Calif., for example, would only need to earn $61,515 in Montgomery, according to data from ACCRA, a nonprofit that compiles cost-of-living data.