What It Takes to Pursue a Career in Information Technology


Updated September 11, 2023 · 3 Min Read

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Careers in information technology are in demand, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the need for more skilled IT workers should continue to grow between 2018 and 2028.

Careers in information and computer technology are available in many industries, including healthcare, government, business, and education.

Entry-level IT jobs are accessible with varying levels of education. In some cases, a high school diploma or associate degree is sufficient.

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Read on to learn more about what it takes to pursue jobs in the best IT fields in 2020. To find the best college programs for each career, visit our accompanying rankings page.

Computer and Information Research Scientists

Computer and information research scientists use technology to solve complex problems in fields like business, science, and medicine. Tasks include inventing new tools and methods to improve technology, designing experiments and analyzing results, collaborating with others, and publishing findings in academic journals.

These skilled professionals typically need a master's degree in computer science or computer engineering.

Median BLS Salary (2020) $115,740
Job Growth (2018-2028) 19%
Median Salary: $115,740

Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects design and build data communication networks such as local area networks, wide area networks, and Intranets. Job tasks include creating plans and layouts, discussing designs with management, and upgrading hardware and software to support existing networks.

A bachelor's degree in computer science, information systems, engineering, or a related field sufficiently prepares graduates for entry-level work. However, some employers prefer candidates with an MBA in information systems.

Median BLS Salary (2020) $120,930
Job Growth (2018-2028) 6.5%
Median Salary: $120,930

Software Developers

Software developers create applications and systems that operate devices, control networks, and allow users to complete specific tasks. Job responsibilities include identifying customer and user needs, determining how new applications will function, and working closely with programmers and other specialists.

A bachelor's in computer science typically satisfies education requirements for software developer jobs, although some employers prefer candidates with a graduate degree. Software developers must be creative and have interpersonal and problem-solving skills.

Median BLS Salary (2020) $71,360
Job Growth (2018-2028) 30.7%
Median Salary: $71,360

Information Security Analysts

Information security involves planning and executing security measures to protect computer networks and systems from cyberattacks. Tasks include monitoring an organization's networks, investigating violations and security breaches, conducting penetration testing, and recommending enhancements.

Most information security analysts hold at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, information assurance, or programming. An MBA in information systems may be preferred for some positions.

Median BLS Salary (2020) $71,980
Job Growth (2018-2028) 28.5%
Median Salary: $71,980

Information Systems Managers

Computer and information systems managers plan, coordinate, and direct the computer-related activities and goals of an organization. Tasks include analyzing technology needs, assessing costs and benefits of new projects, supervising other IT professionals, and negotiating with vendors.

Professionals working in this essential IT field need at least a bachelor's degree and several years of experience in an IT job. Many organizations seek out information systems managers who hold a master's degree.

Median BLS Salary (2020) $88,010
Job Growth (2018-2028) 12%
Median Salary: $88,010

Hardware Engineers

Computer hardware engineers research, develop, and test computer systems and their individual components. Tasks include creating schematics of computer equipment, modifying designs according to test results, and updating existing equipment to work with new software.

Entry-level hardware engineers typically hold a bachelor's degree in computer engineering, electrical engineering, or computer science. Students should select a program with ABET accreditation.

Median BLS Salary (2020) $87,350
Job Growth (2018-2028) 5.4%
Median Salary: $amount

Database Administrators

Database administrators handle the storage, organization, and security of data, including financial records or customer information. Tasks include performing backups to prevent data loss, identifying user needs, and completing database maintenance tasks and updates as needed.

Most professionals working in this information technology field hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related subject. Employers with large databases may seek out candidates with a master's degree.

Median BLS Salary (2020) $73,920
Job Growth (2018-2028) 11.5%
Median Salary: $73,920

Operations Analysts

Operations analysts use advanced analytical methods to solve problems and improve performance in organizations. Tasks include collecting and organizing information and data, determining the best methods to analyze problems, and advising managers on possible solutions.

Operations analysts use sophisticated computer software in their day-to-day work, so a bachelor's degree in computer science, engineering, or analytics is ideal.

Median BLS Salary (2020) $56,318
Job Growth (2018-2028) 27.5%
Median Salary: $56,318

Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts study computer systems and procedures and devise solutions to increase organizational efficiency. Tasks include consulting with managers about IT needs, analyzing costs and benefits, and designing and implementing new computer systems.

Entry-level positions in this IT field require a bachelor's degree with courses in both technology and business. Some employers prefer candidates with an MBA in information systems.

Median BLS Salary (2020) $68,610
Job Growth (2018-2028) 9.1%
Median Salary: $68,610

Web Developers

Web developers design and create both the technical and visual aspects of a website. Tasks include meeting with clients to discuss needs, writing code using programming languages like HTML, and integrating graphics, video, or audio into the site. Web developers may choose to specialize in front-end or back-end development.

Education requirements for web developers vary, but an associate degree is the most common entry-level credential in this IT field. Specialized developers typically earn a bachelor's in computer science or programming.

Median BLS Salary (2020) $59,510
Job Growth (2018-2028) 14.9%
Median Salary: $59,510

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