It's not just what you do that determines how much money you make, it's also where you do it.
Employment-data provider PayScale tracks wages for the most heavily populated U.S. metropolitan areas and recently charted the 20 cities that saw the largest increase in wages from the fourth quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2012.
Here's a breakdown of the top five and some information on what each has to offer:
- Houston, up 4.8%. Texas' largest city is big in the energy industry -- and not just in the traditional areas of oil and gas. It's also seeing gains in newer areas, such as wind and solar. Health care and aerospace are other major industries in town. Houston has an interconnected bikeway network over 300 miles long spanning across 500 square miles, so commuters can get past gridlock while getting healthy on their way to work. In their free time, residents can enjoy a rich, multicultural arts community.
- Seattle, up 4.8%. Seattle gets a lot of rain and is home to plenty of rainmakers, such as Starbucks, Nordstrom and Amazon. It has also home to a major port and serves as a gateway to trade with Asia. Seattle has been a musical center for years and is a regional center for the performing arts with an orchestra, opera and ballet. It's also home to a number of professional sports teams and has a mild climate that allows for year-round enjoyment of outdoor activities.
- Boston, up 4.5%. One of the nation's oldest cities, Boston is known for health care, finance and higher education. Major universities including Boston College, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Boston boasts plenty of sports and cultural venues, as well as museums and sites dedicated to its rich history.
- Riverside, Calif., up 4.5%. Education, manufacturing and retail are big in California's fourth-largest city. Riverside is considered part of the greater Los Angeles area even though it's located 60 miles outside the city along the Santa Ana River. The city is known for its historic Mission Inn designed in the Mission Revival-style and for the citrus trees that helped it grow from a small settlement into a significant city. Riverside has festivals throughout the year, including the Dickens Festival in February, the International Film Festival in April and the Festival of Lights around the holidays.
- Dallas, up 4.3%. Sometimes called the "Silicon Prairie," this big Texas city does big business in technology, life sciences, defense and telecommunications. Dallas is known for its barbecue, Tex-Mex and Mexican food. The city's biggest annual event is the State Fair of Texas, which has been held at Fair Park since 1886. Dallas is also home to sports teams, museums and hundreds of parks.