Information Technology (IT) careers are expected to experience substantial growth during the current decade.
Hot areas for IT jobs include cloud computing, information security, mobile and Web-based games and apps, and Web analytics used to enhance business functions and user experience.
Just about every company and organization has a vital computer-related component for getting the job done. Companies and organizations need IT employees to design apps, create or administer a website, coordinate a company’s information security, and evaluate and implement the appropriate computer network architecture to meet their goals.
Large companies typically hire IT specialists, whereas many smaller companies seek IT professionals who can take care of more than one task. For example, smaller companies may prefer an IT professional who can take care of systems administration and programming, as well as deal with customers.
IT departments are among the most progressive departments allowing staff members to telecommute—it’s one of the aspects of IT attracting people to information technology jobs.
Jobs in IT pay well and provide rewarding work.
Regarding careers in IT, recruiters emphasize that hard-working, ambitious, entry-level employees can make an impact and advance quickly in their IT careers if they show talent and the drive to take on more responsibilities.
The IT Employment Outlook
U.S. News & World Report and other organizations supply rankings of various careers by employment prospects. These are largely determined by expectations for job openings in each field as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other factors include average salaries and job satisfaction.
For example, U.S. News & World Report‘s “Best Jobs of 2012” list includes four IT careers:
- Software Developer—#2
- Database Administrator—#5
- Web Developer—#6
- Computer Systems Analyst—#7
The closely related Computer Programmer category ranked #9 in the list.
In addition, U.S. News & World Report‘s “Eight Ideal Jobs for MBA Graduates,” published in 2012, lists the following IT careers:
- Database Administrator—#1
- Web Developer—#2
- Computer Systems Analyst—#3
In the same listing, openings for Software Developers specializing in applications are forecast to increase by 34%.
Finally, here are the employment outlooks for some other careers:
Companies are forecast to hire 20% more Computer Systems Analysts by 2018 according to Best Jobs for the 21st Century, 6th ed. (JIST Works, 2011).
In the “Top 10 Bachelor’s Degrees for the College Class of 2013” compiled by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the following IT careers are listed:
- Computer & Information Science—#2
- Management Information Systems—#6
- Computer Engineering—#8
Rankings guidelines: We based our IT jobs ranking on salary, employment growth projections, and job satisfaction. These attractive IT jobs are listed alphabetically.
Information Source: Salary statistics and employment growth estimates are taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of October, 2012.
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What they do: They steer a project from beginning to end.
Applications architects ensure individual software projects follow the company’s application development methodology and parameters. They also ensure the project fits a company’s technology infrastructure and business strategy.
Typically, applications architects are needed by large companies with a broad and diverse set of applications that need to be integrated with numerous new application development projects.
Based on employers’ design standards, they design components of applications, including middleware, interface, and infrastructure.
Education requirements: A bachelor’s degree in computer science or information systems. Some positions require a master’s degree.
Mean annual salary: $105,000—one of the higher-paying careers in IT.
What they do: Provide a bridge between IT and business to make changes to systems and processes to meet companies’ needs.
Business analysts create a solution to specific business problems and collaborate with technologists who make it happen. They act as a liaison between areas such as finance, human resources, marketing, and technical areas such as development.
Many business analysts work with project managers. They’re also involved with software development and process management.
Education requirements: Some positions require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, or business administration, as well as, typically, several years of experience. Some employers prefer candidates with a technical bachelor’s degree and an MBA.
Mean annual salary: $78,000
What they do: Design solutions for companies seeking to move their IT infrastructure and services from on-premise servers to a cloud solution such as Windows Azure.
Cloud architects define the cloud structure for a company and work with business analysts to make sure the architecture is in line with business requirements. They also make sure that the service, when set on the cloud, provides high availability, scalability, and fault tolerance.
Cloud architects also ensure that private and public clouds interface well, as well as manage cloud infrastructure.
Cloud architects must have an understanding of the basics of enterprise architecture, including how to configure information technology assets around the needs of a company They also need to have an expert understanding of service-oriented architecture (SOA).
Education requirements: This IT job requires at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, or a related technical field. Certifications give applicants an advantage over the competition.
Mean annual salary: $112,000—one of the highest-paying jobs in IT.
COMPUTER FORENSIC INVESTIGATOR
What they do: Search, preserve, identify, and evaluate information on computer systems to find evidence for a trial.
Computer forensic investigators investigate a wide array of computer crimes. They may also be involved in civil proceedings. The scope of a forensic evaluation can vary from simple information retrieval to reconstructing a series of events.
Computer forensic investigators also examine computer hard drives and storage devices such as flash drives, PDAs, cell phones, MP3 players, tablets, smart phones, video game consoles, electronic notebooks, and other electronic devices which may contain evidence that could be used in a court of law.
Education requirements: A computer-forensic, information-security, or cyber-security degree. Some schools offer information technology programs that include concentrations or coursework in digital forensics. Several computer forensic certifications are available, including Certified Computer Examiner offered by the International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners (ISFCE) and Certified Computer Forensics Examiner offered by the Information Assurance Certification Review Board (IACRB).
Mean annual salary: $64,000
COMPUTER SYSTEMS ANALYST
What they do: Use their business and technology knowledge to evaluate a company’s computer systems and procedures in order to recommend strategic changes to increase productivity, lower costs, and achieve other objectives.
Computer systems analysts design and program computer system updates or closely oversee the development team. Those without a programming background collaborate with the software development department to implement changes. Their main objective is maximizing the return on investment of a company’s IT budget.
Education requirements: Most employers for this IT career require at least a bachelor’s degree in computer systems analysis, computer information systems, computer science, business intelligence, or a similar field.
Since the occupation deals with both business and IT, some computer systems analyst jobs require a Master of Business Administration (MBA), preferably with a technical focus such as technology management or information systems.
Mean annual salary: $71,000
Employment growth outlook: 22%, from 2010 to 2020—faster than the average for all occupations. It’s one of the fastest-growing jobs in IT. As companies increase their reliance on information technology, the demand for computer systems analysts is expected to increase. Also the substantial growth in wireless and mobile networks creates a need for new systems that work well with these networks.
What they do: They’re responsible for organizing and managing a company’s data.
Database administrators make sure that data is accurate and available and that database performance meets business requirements. They also ensure the database is secure.
Databases are the heart of vital business systems. Thus, database administrators have a vital role in a company’s success.
Education requirements: Typically, at least a bachelor’s degree in database administration, computer science, computer information systems, or a related field. Many employers prefer candidates with an MBA with a concentration in database management, computer information systems, or management information systems.
Database administrators may enhance their resume with specialized training and certifications in popular database management systems such as Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase, Oracle, MySQL. and IBM DB2.
Mean annual salary: $82,000
Employment growth outlook: 31%, from 2010 to 2020—much faster than the average for all occupations. It’s one of the fastest growing jobs in IT. Those with skills and certification in the newest database systems from leading vendors. including Microsoft and Oracle. have the best job prospects.
What they do: Perform the initial design work that enables production systems and applications to utilize data and power business processes.
Data modelers create data designs, which define relationships between data fields. They also ensure that applications and systems run effectively.
A company’s data is a vital asset, but it must be modeled efficiently to provide great value. This has become more important as corporate IT settings have become more complex and more vital to a company’s success.
Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in computer science, mathematics, or IT, as well as several years of data management experience.
Mean annual salary: $103,000—another of the higher-paying IT careers.
What they do: Evaluate a company’s business strategy and recommend an IT system architecture to support the strategy.
Enterprise architects help companies align business goals and IT infrastructure to support the business and help achieve its goals.
Education requirements: This IT job needs at least a bachelor’s degree. Some positions require a master’s degree or a Ph.D. An MBA is required for some positions.
Mean annual salary: $110,000
HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNICIAN
What they do: Use specialized computer programs and record-keeping techniques to make sure patients’ electronic health records are complete, accurate, accessible, and secure.
The most in-demand specialties include medical coding, medical billing, and cancer registry.
Education requirements: Entry-level health information technician jobs typically require an associate’s degree in health information management, healthcare IT, or health informatics. Some entry-level health IT jobs require certification, usually the Registered Health Information Technician certificate offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in health information management prepare students for supervisory health information technician positions.
Mean annual salary:$45,000
Employment growth outlook: 21%, from 2010 to 2020. The BLS reports that healthcare will be the leading growth sector for new IT jobs through 2020.
IT FINANCE MANAGER
What they do: Evaluate, forecast, and report the operational budget for an IT department.
Information technology finance managers analyze technology costs across divisions. They ensure that IT adheres to company policies related to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other financial controls.
IT finance managers also strive to get the maximum value from technology investments.
Education requirements: A bachelor’s degree in business, finance, information technology, or a related field.
Mean annual salary: $73,000
IT SECURITY SPECIALIST
What they do: Design and implement secure computer systems to protect vital information from computer crime and cyber warfare.
Information technology security specialists also monitor networks for security breaches and, when required, respond to successful attacks with countermeasures. Valuable skills include vulnerability assessment, identity and access management, data loss prevention, encryption, governance, compliance and auditing, Web content filtering, e-discovery support for litigation, and voice-over-IP systems.
IT security specialists also educate employees on computer security. In addition, some IT security professionals specialize in computer crime investigation.
Education requirements:: Many employers require at least an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in information security, network security, computer information systems, computer science, or a related field. Also, security-centric certificates increase employment opportunities.
Mean annual salary: $75,000
Employment growth outlook: There’s a strong demand for IT security specialists from a variety of private companies, educational institutions, and government agencies.
IT VENDOR MANAGER
What they do: Oversee an IT department’s dealings with suppliers, including producers of software and hardware.
Information technology vendor managers oversee the buying of products and services for the IT department, ensuring it gets the best value. They also make sure that IT purchases support a company’s business goals.
IT vendor managers frequently help with negotiations and contracts. Large information technology departments may need an entire vendor management office, instead of just one person.
Education requirements: A broad understanding of information technology and business.
Mean annual salary: $88,000
What they do: Oversee email and groupware systems, such as associated servers and operating systems.
Messaging administrators also oversee backup and recovery programs, fix system problems, and take care of service requests.
Education requirements: This IT career requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer information systems, or a related field.
Mean annual salary: $85,000
MOBILE APPLICATION DEVELOPER
What they do: Create programs using the Objective C, C#, C++, or Java programming languages.
Mobile application developers create programs for operating systems such as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Each mobile platform has its own core languages and development environment.
Education requirements: Most employers seek applicants with at least a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, computer science, mobile application development, mobile computing, or a related field of study.
Mean annual salary: $90,000
Employment growth outlook: 28%, from 2010 to 2020. Experts expect huge growth in the mobile device market. Mobile application developer is one of the most in-demand jobs in the world. The increasing popularity of tablets and smart phones for communicating, shopping, doing business, and accessing news and information has created a very strong demand for innovative mobile applications. Increasingly, traditional businesses are developing applications to bring their products and services to the mobile marketplace. Most of the growth is expected to be in Android and iOS applications.
What they do: Manage networks and communication systems to keep information flowing.
Network administrators implement and maintain network software and hardware, fix network problems, and ensure network security, availability, and performance standards. They also optimize existing systems to reduce costs and increase productivity, as well as install, optimize, and secure new systems.
Education requirements: Employers often require a bachelor’s degree in network administration, computer science, systems engineering, or a related field. Some employers require a master’s degree. After acquiring a degree, network administrators can increase their advancement opportunities with network certifications such as Cisco’s CCNA, CompTIA’s Network+, and Microsoft’s MCTS: Server 2008 Network Infrastructure Configuration.
Mean annual salary: $76,000
Employment growth outlook: 28%, from 2010 to 2020—faster than the average for all occupations, and one of the fastest-growing IT jobs. The increasing importance of computer networks in an array of industries has increased the demand for network administrators. Due to the increasing use of mobile devices, more companies will utilize the Internet to perform business online, which will increase the demand for network administrators to help companies communicate with customers and employees.
What they do: Oversee a set of interdependent IT projects to ensure they’re successfully synchronized and completed to achieve a broader objective.
Program managers need to understand both a program’s business goals and its technology requirements.
Education requirements: Some employers seek candidates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science, as well as an MBA.
Mean annual salary: $68,000
What they do: Design, develop, test, and optimize computer programs used in areas such as operating systems, business applications, network control systems, video games, and social networks.
The field includes applications software engineers and systems software engineers. Applications software engineers evaluate users’ computing needs and create custom computer applications to meet their requirements. Systems software engineers coordinate the construction, maintenance, and expansion of a company’s computer systems.
Education requirements: Most employers prefer applicants with at least a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, computer programming, software development, computer science, or a related field.
Mean annual salary: $89,000
Employment growth outlook: 30%, from 2010 to 2020—much faster than the average for all occupations. Systems software engineers are projected to have a 32% employment growth rate, and applications software engineers a 28% rate. Software engineer is one of the fastest-growing careers. Advances in computer networking, along with the increasing use of mobile and web-based technologies, have increased the demand for software engineers. Also the increasing complexity and the use of electronic data-processing systems in business, healthcare, government, telecommunications, and other industries are expected to increase the demand especially for systems software engineers.
SOFTWARE IMPLEMENTATION ANALYST
What they do: Make sure deployments of new applications or upgrades are successfully planned and performed.
Software implementation analysts act as a bridge between the software developer and the IT infrastructure team that takes care of installation and maintenance. They determine if the applications interoperate with existing systems, and also plan for customization or integration work.
Education requirements: Candidates for this IT career should have a technical, computer, engineering, or science degree, as well as certifications in areas such as project management and software development life cycle. It’s also vital that they have experience with and knowledge of a company’s technology and business operations.
Median annual salary: $81,000
What they do: Create web pages and web-based applications.
Web developers collect or create web content and plan website layouts and navigation, as well as coding for web pages. They also test and optimize a website for user experience and optimum performance.
Web developers can improve their employment opportunities and earnings by learning and acquiring certification in one or more of the leading database systems in order to write Web apps which interact with databases.
Education requirements: Those interested in becoming a web developer can learn the required skills through an accredited degree program in Web design, Web development, software engineering, or a related field. Multimedia skills and Flash animation are becoming standard education requirements for web developers. Most employers require hands-on programming experience, and usually ask for a portfolio of the candidate’s best web pages and applications they’ve created.
Median annual salary: $90,000
Web developer employment growth: 22 percent from 2010 to 2020. The growth of ecommerce is expected to increase the demand for web developers. Those knowledgeable of multiple programming languages and digital multimedia tools such as Photoshop and Flash should have the best opportunities.
What they do: Keep a company’s operations running smoothly.
Windows administrators are responsible for security, implementing network policy, managing user access, and network troubleshooting. Windows administrators also design, install, configure, and administer Windows operating systems and components across a company.
Education requirements: This IT career typically requires at least a two-year degree in computer science. Some employers seek candidates with a general business degree and software training.
Median annual salary: $78,000