Follow the Money: 5 of the Highest-Paying Jobs in IT
Changing careers can be frightening but also rewarding. If you're worried about taking a pay cut by starting over in IT, then you're in luck, because one of the benefits of working in the technology industry is its competitive salaries, even at the entry level. Add that to the above-average growth in job opportunities, and you've got yourself a pretty solid option for a career with growth potential.
The entire tech industry is growing, and IT jobs offer salaries that are unmatched. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual earnings of people in computer occupations is $87,870, which is nearly 44 percent higher than that of other occupations ($49,630).
So, what career is right for you? When it comes to salary, here are the top five highest-paying jobs in IT. Click on the title in the list or keep scrolling to compare earning potential, responsibilities and more.
Network and Computer Systems Administrators
Network and Computer Systems Administrator Salary
What Is a Network and Computer Systems Administrator?
Systems administrators keep a company's IT systems running. They ensure that employees can access what they need when they need it. They install applications, update systems and maintain user accounts and access. A network systems administrator does this on the network level, ensuring network availability to employees. Systems administrators run tests and collect data to ensure optimal operation.
How to Become a Network and Computer Systems Administrator
Becoming a network and computer systems administrator could be the next steps after having a technical support role, like help desk technician. The education requirements will vary from company to company. Some will require a degree in a computer-related field, but others may accept IT certifications, like CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+.
Job Outlook for Network and Computer Systems Administrators
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of computer systems analysts to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is about the average for all occupations.
Software Developer Salary
What Is a Software Developer?
Despite what you might think, creativity and problem solving are key traits of software developers. Software developers come up with solutions via software, ranging from apps to complete systems. They analyze user needs and oversee the process of creating, testing and developing the software.
How to Become a Software Developer
Nothing worth having comes easy, and that rings true for software development. It takes a lot of work to get there, but it does not necessarily take a technical degree. First, pick a language – like Java, Python, C++ or Ruby – and learn it. Which language you choose is not as critical as getting to know all the ins and outs, because once you fully understand one, you can pick up others. That said, the language you choose may determine your career path, so think about what type of projects you might like to work on and find out which language applies. This might be through books, classes, boot camps or more. Then, practice as much as possible. In this practice, you are not only becoming familiar with the language, but also using the tools developers use.
Job Outlook for Software Developers
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of software developers to grow 24 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than average. Applications developer employment is expected to grow 30 percent and systems developers 11 percent. Both increases are due to the increased demand for computer software.
Computer Systems Analysts
Computer Systems Analyst Salary
What Is a Computer Systems Analyst?
Computer systems analysts make sure that systems work as they should and look for opportunities for improvement. They research the latest technologies and do cost/benefit analyses so they can recommend the best solution for their business. They need to understand the business needs and available technology options to determine what makes the most sense for their systems.
How to Become a Computer Systems Analyst
On the computer side, a degree in computer science may help but is not always necessary. You will, however, want experience working with networks and systems as well as knowledge of the latest technology trends and best practices. On the business side, experience working in the organization's field – for example, finance or health care – or a business degree can offer the insight you need for how technology supports the business. As a career changer, your first IT job might not be as a systems analyst, but as you work your way up to it, your background in another field will give you a leg up.
Job Outlook for Computer Systems Analyst
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of computer systems analysts to grow 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is about the average for all occupations. Health care, in particular, will see a greater need for computer systems analysts for things like electronic health records and e-prescribing.
Information Security Analysts
Information Security Analyst Salary
What Is an Information Security Analyst?
An information security analyst protects an organization's systems and data from cyberthreats. Also called a security or cybersecurity analyst, they stop cyber-criminals in their tracks by monitoring and analyzing network activity, identifying vulnerabilities and applying patches. Information security analysts need a mix of technical, analytical and communication skills. They offer perspective, context and recommendations to the C-Suite to protect the organization from threats and recover from cyberattacks.
How to Become an Information Security Analyst
Many information security analysts have a background in network, systems or database administration or programming. Although many employers look for a computer science, math or engineering degree, experience is a key differentiator in the security field. So, if you're just starting your IT career but know you want to move into cybersecurity, find opportunities to get hands-on security experience and learn from those who already specialize in security. IT certifications, like CompTIA Security+, can help you establish baseline security knowledge that will serve you well in your cybersecurity career.
Job Outlook for Information Security Analysts
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of information security analysts to grow 28 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. With more cyberthreats emerging every day, as well as more organizations adopting the cloud, internet of things (IoT) and more, the demand for information security analysts should only continue to grow.
Computer Network Architects
Network Architect Salary
What Is a Network Architect?
Network architects are the brains behind an organization's network. They stay up to date on the latest technologies and look at the big picture of how their organization operates so they can design and build networks that best meet its needs. They also have to make a business case for why their recommendation is the best and convince executives to fund their projects.
How to Become a Network Architect
Network architect is a senior-level IT role – not something you can jump right into when changing careers. They have 5 to 10 years of experience designing, developing and implementing enterprise networks with multi-vendor solutions. As you work your way up, IT certifications, like CompTIA Network+, can help ensure you have a solid foundation of network and IT infrastructure knowledge. Network architects have experience in jobs like systems administration or engineering, network engineering and other hands-on networking roles. As a leader in IT, in addition to technical skills, network architects need communication, project management and other soft skills.
Job Outlook for Network Architects
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of network architects to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is about average for all occupations.
How to Get into IT
These are just a few of the many opportunities available in information technology. As you think about your career change, knowing what lies ahead can help you make a plan to reach your end goal. If you know that IT is right for you, take our free career quiz to see which IT job matches your skills and interests.