Best Cities to Start a Career 2024 — and the Worst

The best cities for starting a career also provide substantial income growth potential and pleasant work conditions.

Young male candidate having an interview with a female recruiter/HR at the office
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Finding your first job after graduation is an exciting and daunting process. When you layer on the reality that where you work will impact your life just as much as your new job title and salary — the search takes on heightened importance. While some cities, such as New York, are sought-after, it doesn’t mean they are the best place to start. In fact, New York City was ranked dead last in this survey of the Best and Worst Places to Start a Career by Wallethub.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) projects 2,185,000 newly minted bachelor's-degree level graduates in the Class of 2024. Some will go to graduate school, but most will be looking for that first real job. Where a job is located can facilitate or hinder buying a home, the ability to save and prospects for career and salary advancement. 

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15 Best Cities
Overall Rank CitiesProfessional Opportunities RankQuality of Life Rank
1Atlanta, GA17
2Orlando, FL28
3Salt Lake City, UT86
4Tampa, FL721
5Pittsburgh, PA911
6Portland, ME1110
7Charleston, SC1215
8Austin, TX401
9Miami, FL485
10Knoxville, TN665
11Minneapolis, MN373
12Tempe, AZ395
13Seattle, WA522
14Wilmington, DE586
15St. Louis, MO1046
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10 Worst Cities
Overall RankCitiesProfessional Opportunities RankQuality of Life Rank
182New York, NY182171
181Bridgeport, CT179181
180Pembroke Pines, FL180172
179Santa Clarita, CA178174
178Yonkers, NY176167
177Cape Coral, FL181137
176Newark, NJ162180
175Detroit, MI169178
174Jackson, MS164175
173Oxnard, CA159177

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Donna LeValley
Personal Finance Writer

Donna joined Kiplinger as a personal finance writer in 2023. She spent more than a decade as the contributing editor of J.K.Lasser's Your Income Tax Guide and edited state specific legal treatises at ALM Media. She has shared her expertise as a guest on Bloomberg, CNN, Fox, NPR, CNBC and many other media outlets around the nation.