High-tech jobs are paying less in Montana


    Jobs in high-tech are growing at a fast rate in Montana. For experts in the field more investments in high-tech companies are turning into more jobs.

    It's making things change at Foundant Technologies. The company builds software that allows organizations to better manage grants and scholarships. Chris Dahl was with the company when they were founded. He designed its first software.

    "It was a lot quieter then," he said.

    Dahl's seen the growth of the high-tech sector in the Gallatin Valley.

    "There are a lot of start-ups and a lot of cross-pollination of ideas. It's an exciting place to be right now," said Dahl.

    High-tech businesses in the state anticipate adding close to 1,000 new jobs and raising wages by about 5 percent by the end of the year. Compare that to the statewide wage growth of 3 percent.

    High-tech wages in Montana average $65,000 a year. That's $15,000 more than the average for other jobs.

    "Our wages are high for Montana and this area. It allows people to live and enjoy Montana and still work here, but we don't have Silicon Valley salaries by any stretch of the imagination," said Suzie Boyer, Foundant's company culture manager.

    The company had 15 employees when she started a few years ago. Today they have close to 50. They'll be adding a dozen more in the next two years.

    "At Foundant we try to grow within our needs, so we're not hiring at a really quick rate. We're hiring as we feel the need and as we feel the pain," she said.

    For people at the business, the environment in Bozeman is just right for promoting growth in the high-tech industry.

    "I think having the university here and the quality of students that they're putting out helps. I think the fact that we have some anchor companies in the past like RightNow Technologies and having Oracle here now is helping to grow the industry," said Dahl.

    The sector is not slowing down any time soon and that means Foundant won't either.

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