When someone mentions "hot careers," what do you think of? If something in the IT field pops into mind, that's not surprising. The US Department of Labor (DOL) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) both seem to indicate that many IT careers are among the fastest growing occupations between 2008 and 2018.
Encompassing both technical support specialists, who respond to computer issues within the organization, and help desk technicians, who respond to customers’ technical inquiries over the phone, computer support specialists are estimated to grow faster than average through 2018. This IT career’s 14% employment increase will be due to the continual need for organizations and individuals to become acclimated to the latest technology. Many positions require only a professional certification or associate’s degree, along with appropriate computer support training and experience.
As entry-level positions go, the median annual salary of computer support specialists is a respectable $43,450, with the top 10% earning more than $70,750. IT careers as a computer support specialist could segue into other positions in information technology, such as database administration or computer systems analysis, providing that individuals receive additional education attainment at the bachelor’s or graduate level.
2.) Game Designer or Developer
With the continued expansion of the video game market into new demographics, the video game industry continues to need solid employees who are passionate about video games and have the skills to back it up. Within gaming, available positions include; game designers, who create the game concepts; animators, who literally put the concepts in motion; and game developers, who write the code to turn the designers’ and animators’ work into a functional game.
IT careers in game design typically require a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, game design, game development, animation, computer science, software engineering or another related IT discipline. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report salary stats exclusively for gaming, but salaries in game design generally correspond to that of professionals with similar job titles across other industries. The median annual salary can range anywhere from $42,400 for graphic designers to $85,430 for software applications engineers and will vary depending on the individual’s role and experience.
3.) Database Administrator
Database administrators work with database management software to determine ways to efficiently store and utilize data. Indentifying the database needs of the business, they maintain the database system, implement new features, and troubleshoot issues as they arise. Often they work with network administrators to ensure system security.
Many database administration positions require a bachelor’s degree in areas such as computer science, information science, information systems, and of course, database administration. The median annual salary for database administrators in 2008 was $69,740, with the highest 10% earning more than $111,950. As more organizations grow their databases and connect them to the Internet, database administrators are among the many IT careers which are expected to expand. Jobs for database administrators are predicted to grow by 20% though 2018.
4.) Web Developer or Designer
With the number of world-wide Internet users continuing to increase past two billion (International Telecommunications Union), there is a growing demand for websites which are not only technically functional, but are designed to maximize the user’s experience. Web designers are in-charge of creating the look and feel of websites, whereas, web developers use software languages to oversee the website’s production and implementation. Often these roles may overlap, and for web designers or developers to be marketable, it would help if they have a sense of both the technical and creative aspects of website creation.
Some employers will hire applicants with a professional certification or associate’s degree, but most prefer those who have earned a four-year degree. In addition to web development and web design, other applicable areas of study might include graphic design, computer science, and programming. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report stats for web designers specifically, graphic designers, which design for both print and online publications, earned a median annual salary of $42,400 in 2008. Web developers and webmaster’s are grouped together with network architects and telecommunications specialists, who, as a whole, earned a median salary of $71,100.
5.) Network Systems and Data Communication Analyst
Various information technology careers fit under the umbrella of network systems and data communications including; network architects, who design computer networks (encompassing local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), the Internet, and other data communications systems) for multinational organizations; network and computer systems administrators, who set-up, install, and ensure efficiency of the above networks at the individual organizational-level, as well as monitor system security; and telecommunications specialists, who focus on the implementation and maintenance of data-communication systems.
Network and computer systems administrators and telecommunications specialists can generally find employment with an associate’s degree or professional certification, although bachelor’s degrees are often preferred. Many network and computer systems administrators begin their IT careers as computer support specialists before entering into networking positions. Network architects will usually require a bachelor’s degree, with preference given to those who have earned a graduate degree. Applicable areas of study for computer networking include, information security, information systems, computer science, network administration, and network management.
With up-to-date and secure computer networks becoming a critical part of businesses, IT careers in this field have a positive outlook. Network systems administrator positions are predicted to increase by 23% through 2018. Additionally, network architect and telecommunications specialist positions (combined with web developers and webmasters in the BLS grouping of network systems and data communication analysts) are expected to grow by 53% thorough 2018, making it one of the top growing occupations across all industries. The 2008 median annual salary for network systems and data communication analysts was $71,100 and was $66,310 for network and computer systems administrators.
6.) Computer Systems Analyst
Using IT tools, computer systems analysts configure hardware and software in order to design or expand computer systems, which could range from business and financial computer systems to scientific systems. Computer systems analysts first meet with the business to discuss their needs, and then they make the plan for the system, coordinate with the programmers to create the system, and test the system’s efficiency after it is complete.
Many employers prefer bachelor’s degree holders who have received their education in areas such as information science, management information systems, computer science, applied mathematics, and engineering. Most positions will require individuals to keep abreast of latest technology, and because computer systems analysis requires both a business and technical background, many individuals in this field might go on to earn an MBA degree in information technology.
The BLS predicts that jobs for computer systems analysts will increase by 20% through 2018, and the median annual salary for this role was $75,500 in 2008. Similarly to other information technology careers, the employment growth can be attributed to the fact the information technology is becoming a more integral part of the business environment.
7.) Software Engineer
Software engineers can be divided into two categories: computer applications software engineers, who take into consideration the business’s needs and design and implement computer application software, and computer systems engineers, who assist organizations with constructing and expanding their computer systems. Growth in this field is reported to be excellent, with jobs expected to increase by 32% though 2018.
Employers generally prefer applicants with bachelor’s degrees in computer science, software engineering or another related-IT field. However, the salaries for software engineers can be significant, making software engineering one of the highest paid IT careers. The median annual salary for software applications engineers in 2008 was $85,430, whereas, software systems engineers earned slightly more at $92,430. With the appropriate experience and a graduate level degree, this position could eventually lead to a managerial role as a lead software engineer, manager of information systems or a chief technology officer.
8.) Hardware Engineer
Computer hardware is comprised of the physical aspects of a computer, including the chips, circuit boards, and internal systems. Without computer hardware engineers, who develop and test new computer hardware technologies, there would be no way to run the computer software that businesses use to operate. Many of the components of a computer are electric in nature, aligning computer hardware engineering closely with electrical engineering.
As such, computer hardware engineering positions generally require a bachelor’s degree in either electrical engineering or computer hardware engineering. One of the most lucrative IT careers, the median annual salary for computer hardware engineers in 2010 was $98,810, with the highest 10% earning $147, 890. However, competition is fierce in this field, due to the outsourcing of some of this business, and there is expected to be only a slight growth of 4% in open positions through 2018.
9.) Computer Scientist
The “inventors” of new technology, computer scientists solve complex problems in conjunction with electrical and mechanical engineers. They conduct research on a wide range of technology topics, from hardware architecture to virtual reality. Due to the high-level research nature of this position, in order to become a computer scientist, you must have a doctorate in computer science.
Positions for computer scientists are one of the faster expanding information technology careers, with employment expected to increase by 24% through 2018. Computer scientists have an excellent salary potential, and in 2008, the median annual salary of computer scientists was $97,970, with the top 10% earning more than $151,250 each year.
10.) Computer and Information Systems Manager
Working with other IT professionals, such as software engineers, network administrators, and computer systems analysts, computer and information systems managers oversee the implementation and maintenance of the various computers systems and technologies within their organizations.
Since this is a supervisory role considered to be on the track to chief technology officer, most employers will require applicants to possess a computer science master's degree, such as the MBA in information technology. These individuals are expected to be a jack-of-all-trades and have a wide-variety of technical expertise, and as a result, computer and information systems managers may begin their careers as software engineers or computer systems analysts. Beating out all other IT careers in our list, the median annual salary for computer and information systems managers in 2008 was $112,210, with employment predicted to expand by 17% through 2018.
Choosing Among Information Technology Careers
Considering that there are so many great options out there, choosing among IT careers can seem overwhelming. However, like with many careers, those in information technology start with an education. Explore the various schools featured on our site to find the right degree program for you, and request for additional information today!