In Virginia, software companies intersect with health care, government and defense, and banking and financial services companies, creating opportunities for innovative integration and partnerships. With abundant and inexpensive “hard” infrastructure (e.g. broadband, fiber, and electricity) and a skilled and educated talent pool, Virginia offers the tools to enable companies to make their next leap forward.
Virginia is home to a dynamic roster of software companies, including industry leaders Amazon Web Services, Appian Corporation, CGI, Cvent, Leidos, MicroStrategy, PowerSchool, and SAIC.
Virginia offers a robust technology infrastructure, with the largest data center market in the U.S. concentrated in Northern Virginia. As a result, the region boasts the highest density of dark fiber in the world.
In addition to Northern Virginia, advanced levels of connectivity are seen throughout Virginia. Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation owns and operates 1,800 miles of open-access fiber optic network in 31 counties in Southern Virginia, and operates long-haul fiber network for optical transport to key peering hubs on the East Coast. Virginia Beach is now the landing point for three new transoceanic fiber cable connection points – the first in the Mid-Atlantic.
Demonstrating a particular strength in the federal sector, Virginia houses a large ecosystem of technology integration and development companies. Thirty-seven of the Washington Technology Top 100 federal contracting companies are headquartered in Virginia, including seven of the top 10.
Virginia offers a talented and skilled workforce supported by an acclaimed educational system offering a variety of cutting-edge degree programs.
Virginia has the 2nd-highest concentration of tech workers, the 6th-largest net tech employment in the country, and is ranked the 10th most innovative state, according to Cyberstates 2019.
The Commonwealth is a global and diverse talent hub. Between 2010 and 2016, Northern Virginia saw the U.S.’s 4th-largest growth in international population. Women and African Americans are more likely to work in tech in NOVA than in Silicon Valley, and UVA’s computer science department now ranks among the top five most gender-diverse undergraduate CS programs in the country. In fall 2017, women made up 28.2% of the students in its three undergraduate computing programs.
Virginia has a robust talent pool of software developers with a leading location quotient for this job category, demonstrating a significant concentration in this occupation compared to the rest of the nation.
Employment of Software Developers, Systems Software, by State
Employment per thousand jobs
Employment of Software Developers, Applications, by State
Employment per thousand jobs
Higher Education & Training
Virginia’s colleges and universities are working to meet the increasing demand for tech talent. 57 of Virginia educational institutions offer CS degrees. In Virginia, over 6,600 information technology degrees were awarded during the 2016–17 school year. In addition, there are more computer science graduates annually (6,300) in the D.C./Northern Virginia MSA than any other metropolitan area in the country.
The Commonwealth is home to renowned universities that offer an unrivaled set of innovation partnerships. These include the University of Virginia, the nation’s 3rd-ranked and one of the country’s oldest public universities; Virginia Tech, one of the premier science and technical universities; and George Mason University, home to one of the largest CS departments in the U.S.
Four Virginia universities have the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education’s R1 (Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity) designation: George Mason, the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech.
Companies will find talent throughout all of Virginia. The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, is home to the first undergraduate software engineering program in Virginia and has proven to be a feeder program to software development companies in Southwest Virginia, including CGI.
A number of programs in Virginia foster collaboration between academia and industry:
- UVA's Computer Science Industrial Advisory Board includes local and regional companies that hire undergraduates. Companies also present possible curriculum revisions.
- George Mason University’s Xerox Technical Minority Scholarship Program ensures students have the financial resources needed to complete their studies in specific fields like computing and computer science, laser optics, and engineering.
- Northern Virginia Community College is partnering with Columbus State University and Amazon Web Services to develop a cutting-edge cloud computing curriculum.
- Virginia's first registered cybersecurity apprenticeship was established by building a partnership between Tidewater Community College and Yorktown-based Peregrine Technical Solutions, LLC.
- The Virginia Serious Game Institute (VSGI), formed by George Mason University and Prince William County, provides a new gateway to simulation, modeling and game design, applied research, and company formation, to help foster entrepreneurship within the industry.
- The Captial CoLAB (Collaborative of Leaders in Academia and Business) is an action-oriented partnership that brings together the leaders of the region’s top academic institutions and businesses to develop and execute initiatives that support the vision of the Capital Region, spanning Baltimore to Richmond, as a leading global hub for innovation.
Virginia’s large military presence provides an ongoing source of talent from exiting members entering the civilian workforce.
The Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) launched the NVTC Veterans Employment Initiative (VEI) in August 2013 to accelerate veteran transitions to civilian life by providing better employment opportunities within Virginia’s technology community. VEI connects veterans with jobs, internships, mentorships, and education/certifications while also providing support to member companies in their efforts to recruit, hire, train, and retain qualified veteran employees.
In 2017, Northern Virginia Community College and Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced a new, innovative apprenticeship program designed to train veterans in Northern Virginia. Throughout the course of the program, the all-veteran cohort of apprentices will earn a series of highly technical industry certifications that are in demand by the technology sector, including CompTIA Network+, Linux+, and the AWS Solutions Architect.
The Virginia Values Veterans Program is a free training and certification program for employers to help implement nationally recognized best practices in recruiting, hiring, and retaining highly skilled and dependable veterans. Since its inception in 2012, over 33,000 hires have been reported by companies enrolled in the program.
Virginia also encourages STEM and computer programming skills development at the K-12 level. Examples include:
- The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) incorporating computer science education into the Standards of Learning framework.
- Nonprofit CodeVA partnering with schools, parents, and communities to bring equitable computer science education to all of Virginia's students.
- CodeRVA Regional High School, an innovative public high school preparing students for college and careers in computer science.
- Virginia being the 4th-ranked state in the country for percentage of students who have passed an AP STEM exam.
- U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best High Schools" naming 15 Virginia high schools as gold medal schools, 39 silver medal schools, and 64 bronze medal schools. Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is ranked as the No.1 non-charter public high school in the U.S.
- Capital One Coders Middle School Initiative, a partnership between Capital One and targeted Fairfax County schools, where 20 students attend an introductory software development course after school and receive a free laptop for their personal use upon completion of the program.
- NOVA SySTEMic, a college-sponsored initiative with dedicated staff that provides STEM outreach efforts in schools throughout the Northern Virginia region, including STEM Awareness Days, Summer Technology Camps, and VEX Robotics Competitions.
Matt Calkins Founder & CEO, Appian
Appian is proud to be based in Northern Virginia. In our journey from start-up to IPO, we’ve found everything we needed in the region.
Consistently ranked as one of the top states for business in the U.S., Virginia is a leader in information technology. Virginia offers a low cost of doing business, an acclaimed business environment, a highly educated workforce, and opportunities for sustainable operations.
Virginia offers a welcoming business climate for companies and is recognized as a top-ranked state for business, coming in at No. 1 by CNBC and No. 4 by Forbes.com in their annual best states for business rankings.
- Electricity rates are below the U.S. average at 6.26 cents per kilowatt hour vs. 6.88 cents nationally.
- Access to renewable energy resources is increasing, including Dominion’s solar capacity growing over 630% since 2015 with nearly 745MW in operation or under development.
- Unemployment insurance taxes are the 7th-lowest in the nation and 53% lower than the national average.
- Average workers' compensation costs are among the nation’s lowest.
- Building costs range from 6% to 21% below the national average, depending on the region.
- Annual tech industry wages are 29% below California, 18% below Washington, and 17% below Massachusetts, according to Cyberstates 2018.
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