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Part of Western Governors University

November 18, 2019

Information Technology

12 best IT career options in 2019.

Man working on computer hardware

As tech continues to evolve and become a more crucial element of daily life, the need for qualified IT professionals also continues to grow. Earning a degree in the right IT field can open the door to a wide variety of information technology careers. These tech jobs are in high demand, often pay well, and are extremely secure. Within each area of IT specialization there are also opportunities to move up the ladder to management or executive level positions. Higher education is your key to being qualified for these coveted positions, and WGU can help you get the credentials and skills you need to pursue your dream job.

This guide will go over 12 of the top IT careers, and help you discover which degree you should pursue to be qualified for each one.

Man's hands typing on keyboard

Best IT careers.

  • Computer and information systems manager.

Job responsibilities. Computer and information systems managers are in charge of managing and coordinating all of the computer-related areas of an organization. They often work with the top executives of an organization to go over the computer needs, and make plans to get those needs met. They will analyze needs and recommend upgrades, direct the installation of hardware and software, work to keep networks secure, review budgets and costs of computer hardware and software, and stay up to date on current technology that could benefit the organization. Often the computer and information systems manager directs the IT or technical support team of an organization as well.

Educational requirements. Most computer and information systems managers will have at least a bachelor’s degree, if not a master’s degree. A degree in systems administration can help you get the knowledge and skills you need to be successful in this role. You’ll need to learn IT basics, scripting and programming, web development, and more. 

Salary. The average yearly salary for computer and information systems manager is $142,530 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is well above the national average salary in the U.S. which is $56,000. IT careers are highly specialized and generally offer high salaries, even at the entry level. Management positions usually require some experience in the IT world first, and then translate to higher pay. 

Job growth and outlook. Employment of computer and information systems manager will likely grow 11% by 2028, which is much faster than the national average of job growth. Organizations around the world are expanding their digital platforms and will need qualified information systems managers to help them stay up-to-date. 

  • Computer and information research scientist.

Job responsibilities. Computer and information research scientists are responsible for inventing and designing new approaches for tech. Sometimes called data scientists, they also find innovative new uses for current technology. They explore the fundamental issues in technology and develop theories to solve problems, they work with scientists and engineers, some invent new computing languages and tools, they create new software systems, design experiments to test code, and publish findings in journals for others to learn from.

Educational requirements. For a data scientist position, a master’s degree will usually be required by the employer doing the hiring. You can begin your educational journey with a bachelor’s degree in data analytics that can help prepare you for a future master’s degree. You’ll need to be extremely well versed in development, analytics, programming languages, and communication in order to be qualified for this job.

Salary. Computer and information research scientists make $118,370 per year according to the BLS, with the lowest 10% earning $69,000. Even the lowest paid computer and information research scientists can expert to earn more than the national average salary. 

Job growth and outlook. This field is expected to grow 16% in the next ten years, which is 10% faster than the national average for job growth. This means that positions will be plentiful and workers with the right education can expect many job opportunities.

  • Computer hardware engineer.

Job responsibilities. Hardware engineers are in charge of researching, designing, and testing new computer hardware. This can include processors, circuit boards, networks, and routers. Computer hardware engineers utilize a combination of engineering, design, and technical skills to create needed hardware. They analyze and test results, modify design, update computer equipment so it can work with new software, and more.

Educational requirements. Computer hardware engineers need an accredited bachelor’s degree to be qualified for these tech positions. An online degree in computer science from WGU could be the perfect place to begin your journey to this profession. You’ll need to learn about computer software, hardware, operating systems, and more which can all help you be prepared for this exciting career field. 

Salary. Computer hardware engineers make $114,600 per year on average, with those who have more experience and education earning even more. Based on the size of the company you work for and where it’s located, your income potential can greatly increase.

Job growth and outlook. Employment for computer hardware engineers is expected to grow 6% by 2026, which is on par with the national average for career growth. This means that those who are qualified should be able to find job opportunities all around the country.

  • Computer network architect.

Job responsibilities. Computer network architects build data communication for an organization. This can include local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets. These tech networks can work for connections between a few workers in an office, or a giant infrastructure that services multiple customers. Network architects create layouts for the communication network, explain to management how it would work, keep information security at the forefront of the design, upgrade hardware, research new technologies, and more. 

Educational requirements. A degree in computer science can be a great place to start on your journey for a career in computer network architecture. Computer network architects need to have an understanding of information technology fundamentals, plus the added understanding of network security, and database communication. WGU can provide all these skills, plus the added bonus of industry certifications to help you be prepared for a tech job. 

Salary. According to the BLS, computer network architects can expect to earn $109,020 per year, with the top 10% earning more than $160,000 each year. Network architects often have experience in other areas of information technology so they have been climbing the ladder to get to this position. 

Job growth and outlook. Employment of computer network architects is expected to grow 5% in the next 10 years. This is about as fast as the national average, which means that over time more organizations will be adding these positions to their payroll. There will be plenty of tech job opportunities for those interested in pursuing this career path.

  • Software developer.

Job responsibilities. Software developers are the ones who create computer programs. Sometimes called software engineers, they use their technical ability to create programs that users need. They design, test, and develop software, recommend software upgrades for existing programs, create models and diagrams to help programmers, and document every part of the system for future reference. 

Educational requirements. Developers usually need a degree in software development to get the skills required for a job. You’ll need to learn about scripting, web development, programming languages, operating systems, and data management to be an effective developer. These information technology jobs are competitive and will require great computing and data skills to impress the hiring manager.

Salary. Developers can expect to make over $105,000 per year on average according to the BLS. This is nearly double the national average for yearly income. Software developers possess specialized skills that make them invaluable to organizations, hence the high pay for positions. 

Job growth and outlook. Software development is expected to grow 21% in the next ten years, more than triple the national average of growth for jobs. As tech continues to evolve software engineers are crucial for continued programs and software across industries. 

  • Information security analyst.

Job responsibilities. Information security analysts are in charge of the security measures for an organization’s computer system. They monitor the networks for security breaches, use firewalls and other software to protect information, prepare reports about any security breaches, do penetration testing to look for vulnerabilities, and develop security standards for the company.

Educational requirements. Analysts will need at least a bachelor’s degree, if not a master’s degree, in cybersecurity and information assurance to be qualified. You need to know information technology basics along with the technical details of security systems and networks in order to do this information technology career well. Potential employees will greatly benefit from additional training.

Salary. According to the BLS information security analysts make over $98,000 on average. This is well above the national salary average in the United States, with those who have more education and experience getting opportunities to make even more. 

Job growth and outlook. Employment for information security analysts is expected to grow 32% in the next ten years. This is 4 times faster than the national average for employment growth. As cybersecurity threats continue to grow, there will be an ever-increasing need for professionals who can keep systems secure.

  • Database administrator.

Job responsibilities. Database administrators store and organize data, granting access to users when needed, and keeping everything secure from unauthorized access. Database administrators use organizational data is secure, back-up and restore data, identify users to create administrator databases, update permissions, and more. 

Educational requirements. A database administrator can greatly benefit from a degree in data analytics and data management. They need to have knowledge of scripting, web development, data science, data management, and more. Education is crucial to helping you be prepared to take on this role. 

Salary. Database administrators make an average of $90,000 per year, according to the BLS, with the highest paid professionals making around $50,000 and the highest paid making more than $138,000 per year. The longer you’ve been in the industry, the more you can make.

Job growth and outlook. Employment for database administrators is expected to grow 9% by 2028. This is faster than the national average, and as organizations continue to need information technology professionals, there will be an even greater demand for experts in this industry.

  • Computer systems analyst.

Job responsibilities. Computer systems analysts help an organization run effectively. They combine business and information technology in their organization to look at computer systems and procedure, analyzing the needs and limitations as a whole. They consult with managers to determine the role of IT systems inside the organization, evaluate the costs and benefits, increase functionality of existing systems, oversee the installation of new systems, and train users on their computer and information technology systems.

Educational requirements. Many analysts need a degree in a field of IT. Computer science is generally a popular degree for this profession, because it goes over all the basics of the IT industry and helps prepare students for a future analyzing computer systems in an organization. 

Salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics analysts earn about $88,000 per year on average. This can vary based on your location, and the size of the organization where you work. It also greatly depends on your education and work experience.

Job growth and outlook. The employment of computer systems analysts is slated to grow at a rate of 9% in the next several years, which is faster than the national average. This is largely due to the increasing need of organizations to enhance their information technology systems and implement more effective technology.

  • Computer programmer.

Job responsibilities. Computer programmers are in charge of writing and testing code that makes applications and software run. They take the designs created by software developers and turn them into coded instructions for computers. They write programs in computer languages like C++ and Java, update existing programs, run tests to find errors in the code, and fix any problems with how the code is working.

Educational requirements. You’ll need to know a few programming languages to be qualified for a job as a computer programmer. These languages are usually part of a degree program, such as computer science or software development. Sometimes computer programmers will learn additional languages through certification courses or coding libraries to make them more marketable. 

Salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that computer programmers generally make $84,000 per year on average, with the top 10% of the profession earning more than $130,000 per year. The more coding languages you know and the more vital you are to an organization, the more money you stand to earn.

Job growth and outlook. Currently in the United States there is an expected decline with the employment of computer programmers. So it is vital for programmers to find ways to stand out among the competition. More languages, certifications, and higher education can help you make a mark on employers. 

  • Network and computer systems administrator.

Job responsibilities. Computer and network system administrators are in charge of the day-to-day running of an organization’s computer networks. They determine an organization’s needs and install the network hardware and software, they make upgrades and repairs, evaluate the network performance, and train users on the proper use of the hardware and software.

Educational requirements. To become a network and computer systems administrator a degree in network operations and security will be extremely helpful. You’ll need to learn data management, networking, spreadsheets, scripting and programming, and more. A degree and certifications can help you learn all the skills you will need to be successful. 

Salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average yearly salary for network and computer systems administrators is $82,000. The lowest 10% in this profession earn around $50,000, and the highest 10% earn $130,000. Your income potential largely depends on where you live and the size of your organization.

Job growth and outlook. This field is expected to grow at a rate of 5% over the next 10 years, with plenty of opportunities for those who are interested in pursuing network and computer systems administration. 

  • Web developer.

Job responsibilities. Web developers are the professionals in charge of designing websites. They are responsible for the look and technical elements of the website, and may create content for the site as well. They create and test applications for the website, write code, create the site’s layout, integrate images and videos, and monitor web traffic.

Educational requirements. Web developers need to have extensive knowledge in certain coding languages. For most web developers a degree in information technology could be a huge asset. In your program you will learn coding languages like HTML, CSS, PHP, and more. These coding languages are used to create the look of a website.

Salary. Web developers make an average yearly salary of $69,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statics. Web developers who work for larger organizations often make more money than those who do smaller clients or companies.

Job growth and outlook. It’s expected that web developer positions will grow 13% by 2028, much faster than the national average. This is because more companies are recognizing the need for technological updates on websites, and more consumers use websites to shop, research, and learn. 

  • Computer support specialist

Job responsibilities. Computer support specialists are the experts who provide help and guidance for computer users. They answer direct questions, test network systems, perform maintenance to help systems run smoothly, and troubleshoot when needed. They are the help desk that is directly responsible for making sure users have everything they need.

Educational requirements. A bachelor’s degree in information technology will help set you apart from the competition as a potential employee. A degree can give you all the skills you need in computer hardware, software, spreadsheets, and more. Higher education in the world of IT is always a great idea, and can help you be prepared for an exciting future. 

Salary. According to the BLS, computer support specialists can earn around $53,000 per year on average. This is just about on par with the national average for salaries in the U.S. This is a great entry-level job for those hoping to dip their toes into the IT realm.

Job growth and outlook. Computer support specialist positions are expected to grow 10% in the next 10 years, faster than the national average. As technology continues to evolve there will be a continuing need for experts to help everyone in an organization utilize technology effectively. 

If you’re planning to get a degree in information technology, it’s smart to know what kinds of career options are available, and which one best suits your passion and interest. Here at WGU our goal is to help train you to be prepared for a wide variety of IT positions. Your degree is the first step toward a bright and exciting future.

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