The field of computers and information technology is a bright one. It is estimated jobs in computers and information technology will grow by a healthy 13% by 2026, which is faster than average, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. It is expected these occupations will see an increase of 557,000 jobs in this time period.
Demand for these technical professionals will be due to greater reliance on technology by businesses and consumers, more emphasis on cloud computing, information security and the collection and storage of large amounts of data.
Yet, according to a recent report, 63% of CIOs find it difficult to find skilled information technology professionals. With the right education, you could fill the gap and become eligible for these positions.
Earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in information technology could be the ticket to a prosperous employment future. Below are 13 things you can do with a degree in information technology.
#1 Computer and Information Systems Manager
Computer and information systems managers are often referred to in the industry as IT managers or IT project managers. This is the most common career for professionals with an information technology degree. They are responsible for the planning, coordination and direction of all computer related activities in an organization. They are responsible for ensuring the IT goals of the organization are met and are generally in charge of implementing the technology requirements to meet these goals.
Computer and information systems managers usually have the following duties:
- Perform detailed analysis of the computer and technology needs of the company and recommend potential upgrades for company executives to consider.
- Plan and direct installation and maintenance of computer software and hardware
- Ensure the network and electronic documents of the company are secure from hackers
- Assess what the costs and benefits are of new IT projects and show executives why funding is justified
- Learn about new information technology and find ways to increase the efficiency of computer systems in the organization
- Plan and supervise the work of other information technology professionals, such as computer systems analysts, software developers and information security analysts.
With your information technology degree at the master’s level, it is possible to work in these high paying positions as well:
- Chief information officer (CIO): Determines the information and technology goals of the company and then provides oversight of the technology to meet these goals.
- Chief technology officer (CTO): Evaluates new information technology and determines how it can help the company. CIOs are more business oriented, while CTOs have a higher level of technical expertise.
- IT director: Responsible for the information technology department and provides direct supervision of other workers. IT directors provide direction for IT systems requirements for the business.
The median salary for all computer and information systems managers in 2017 was $138,200, with the top 10% earning more than $200,000 per year. Job growth is anticipated to be 12% by 2026, which is faster than average.
#2 Computer Information and Research Scientist
Computer information and research scientists design and invent new ways to approach computing technology and to find more innovative uses for current technology. They study and attempt to solve complex computer problems in business, medicine, technology and science.
Some of the common duties of computer information and research scientists are:
- Explore the fundamental issues in computers and computing and develop theories and models to deal with these issues
- Assist engineers and scientists to solve complex problems in computing
- Invent new languages in computing, as well as tools, methods and techniques in how people work with computers and mobile devices
- Improve software systems that are the foundation of the contemporary computer and computing experience
- Design computer experiments that test how new software systems are operating
Major specialties for computer and information research scientists include:
- Data science: Write algorithms that detect and analyze patterns in huge sets of data. See Big Data Analytics Degree options
- Robotics: Some study how to enhance the performance of robots. Robotics looks at how machines can better interact with the physical world. These workers create computer programs to control robots. See Best Robotics Degree options
- Programming: Design new computer programming languages that are intended to write software.
The median salary for computer and information research scientists in 2017 was $114,500, according to BLS, with the top 10% earning more than $176,500 per year. Job growth in this field will be strong for years to come, with 19% growth anticipated through 2026.
#3 Information Security Analyst
An information security analyst is responsible for planning and carrying out security measures to protect a company’s computer systems and networks. As the number and complexities of cyberattacks increase, their responsibilities continue to evolve and change.
Information security analysts usually have the following duties:
- Monitor the network of the organization for any cybersecurity breaches and investigate any violations when they occur
- Install and use cybersecurity software, including data encryption programs and firewalls to protect private data
- Prepare cybersecurity reports that document any security problems that have occurred as well as the amount of damage that has been caused by any breaches
- Perform cybersecurity penetration testing where analysts simulate a cyberattack to look for any vulnerabilities before they can be exploited
- Assist computer users when they need to learn about new cybersecurity protocols or to have new software installed.
IT security analysts are vital parts of all organizations’ information technology departments. They are deeply involved in the disaster recovery plan for the organization, which is the emergency procedure followed in case there is a major cyber attack or other emergency that compromises IT systems.
BLS reports the median salary in this profession is $95,500, with the top 10% earning more than $153,000 per year. Jobs will soar in this field by 28% by 2026, much faster than average.
#4 Software Developer
Software developers are the minds that create computer programs that drive our computers, mobile devices and so much of the technology we rely on every day. Some software developers develop the applications that let people do tasks on computer devices, while others develop the systems that run the electronic devices or control the networks.
Some of the common tasks of software developers are:
- Analyze the needs of computer and device users, then test, design and develop the software that will meet these needs
- Recommend upgrades to software for existing customer systems and programs
- Design every part of the system or application and plan the way in which the different software pieces will work together
- Create diagrams and models that will show the computer programmers the necessary software code to make the application work
- Document all parts of the system or application for any future upgrades and maintenance
- Collaborate with other computer and IT professionals to create the best software
Major types of software developers are;
- Applications software developers: Handle the design of computer applications, such as games and word processors for consumers.
- Systems software developers: Create systems that keep the computers functioning in an efficient manner. This might be the operating system for the computer that the general public buys, or the system that is built for a company.
Median pay for software developers in 2017 was $101,700, with the top 10% earning more than $160,000 per year. The job outlook is bright with 24% job growth anticipated by 2026.
#5 Computer Systems Analyst
These computer professionals may be referred to as systems architects. They study the current computer systems and procedures for an organization, and devise solutions to assist that organization to operate in a more efficient manner. They are responsible for bringing business and IT together by understanding both the limits and needs of both.
Some of the common tasks of computer systems analysts are:
- Consult with upper level managers to determine what the role of the IT systems will be in the organization.
- Research the emerging technologies that could improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the company
- Do an analysis of costs and benefits so that upper level management can decide if IT systems and computing infrastructure improvements are possible from a financial perspective
- Design and implement new computer systems by selecting and configuring software and hardware
- Oversee the configuration and installation of new computer systems
The median salary for computer systems analysts was $88,200 in 2017, with the top 10% earning more than $139,800 per year. Jobs for computer systems analysts will grow by 9% through 2026, which is about as fast as average. It is expected there will be additional growth in the healthcare field.
Professionals who earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in information technology will find plenty of high paying jobs waiting for them. Thus, this is a excellent degree to consider for your future if you are interested in computers, software and hardware.
#6 Network and Computer Systems Administrator
One of the most important parts of any organization today is the computer network. Network and computer systems administrators are in charge of the daily operation of these critical systems. They are responsible for organizing, installing and supporting the computer systems for a company, such as LANs, WANs, network segments, intranets and various types of data communication systems.
Some of the common responsibilities of network and computer systems administrators are:
- Determine the company’s system needs and install appropriate software and hardware
- Make any needed upgrades and repairs to the network and ensure that each system is operating properly
- Evaluate and optimize the system or network for performance
- Add network users, and update and assign security permissions for the network
Median pay for network and computer systems administrators is $81,100 with the top 10% earning more than $130,000 per year. Job demand will increase by 6% through 2026, which is average.
#7 Computer Hardware Engineer
Computer hardware engineers are responsible for research, design, and testing of computer systems and components, including circuit boards, processors, memory devices, routers and networks. Some of their duties include:
- Designing new computer hardware, including the creation of schematics of new computer equipment to be built
- Test computer hardware that is needed to be designed
- Analyze computer test results and modify designs as needed
- Update existing equipment so that it works with new software
Many hardware engineers work on devices that are used in many manufactured products that use processes that hook up to the Internet. For instance, many new vehicles, home appliances and medical devices have Internet computer systems that have been built into them.
The median salary for computer hardware engineers was $115,100 in 2017, with the top 10% earning more than $176,000 per year. Jobs in the field are expected to rise by 5%, which is about fast as average.
#8 Computer Network Architect
A computer network architect is responsible for designing and building data communication networks, such as LANs, WANs and Intranets. These expansive networks can range from smaller connections between two offices to networking that goes across a cloud infrastructure that serves customers all over the world. Network architects need to have a lot of knowledge of the business plan of the organization to design a network that can assist the company in achieving its goals.
Duties of computer network architects include:
- Creating plans and layouts to set up new data communication networks
- Present plans to upper level management and explain why the computer networking plans should be performed
- Consider the importance of information security when setting up networks
- Upgrade hardware, including adaptors and routers, as well as software that is needed to properly support the computer networks
The median salary for computer network architects was $104,650, with the top 10% earning more than $162,000. Job demand is expected to grow 6% through 2026, which is about average when compared to other jobs.
#9 Computer Programmer
A computer programmer is responsible for writing and testing code that allows computers and software programs to operate effectively. Computer programmers are responsible for turning program designs that are created by software developers and engineers into the instructions that the computer is able to follow. Typical duties are:
- Write computer programs in the most popular languages, such as Java or C++
- Update and expand current computer programs
- Test computer programs for errors and fix the incorrect computer code
- Create and test computer code in an IDE or integrated development environment
- Use a code library to make computer code writing simpler
The median salary for computer programmers in 2017 was $82,200, with the top 10% earning $132,000 per year. Job demand for programmers is declining in the US as more work is being done offshore. But some companies are bringing some of these jobs back to the US in recent years.
#10 Database Administrator
A database administrator uses database software to organize data, including customer information and financial information. They are responsible for ensuring that data is always available to users and is secure from people who should not see it.
Typical duties of database administrators are:
- Ensure that the data of the organization is secure
- Back up and restore data to prevent any loss of data
- Identify needs of the user to create and administer critical databases
- Ensure that the database operates in an efficient manner and with no errors
- Keep the database updated and update the permissions as needed
The median salary for database administrators in 2017 was $87,000 per year, with the top 10% earning $132,400 per year. Jobs will increase by 11% by 2026, which is faster than average.
#11 Market Research Analyst
A market research analyst performs analysis of market conditions to determine what the possible sales of a product or service may be. They assist companies to understand what products consumers want, the price they will pay and who will buy them. Common roles of market research analysts are:
- Monitor and forecast sales and marketing trends
- Measure how effective marketing strategies and programs are
- Evaluate and devise methods to collect data, including questionnaires, surveys and opinion polls
- Collect data on competitors, consumers and market conditions
- Analyze market data with statistical software
The median salary for market research analyst is $63,200, with the top 10% earning $122,700 per year. Job demand for this field will rise by 23% by 2026, which is much faster than average.
#12 Operations Research Analyst
An operations research analyst uses complex analytical methods and mathematics to help companies to solve business problems and make better business decisions. Some of the common responsibilities in this position are:
- Solve business problems in healthcare, logistics, manufacturing and others
- Collect and organize business information from many sources, such as computer databases, customer feedback and sales histories
- Collect data and input from workers that are involved in the problem, or from other people who have knowledge of the problem
- Examine critical business information to determine what is most relevant to the problem
- Perform statistical analysis, predictive modeling and simulations to develop solutions
The median salary in this field is $81,300, with the top 10% earning more than $134,000 per year. Employment for operations research analysts will rise by 27% by 2026, which is much faster than average.
#13 Computer Support Specialist
A computer support specialist offers help and advice to computer users and companies. Computer support specialists work either in support of computer networks or they offer technical help to people who are using computer systems. Typical roles of computer network support specialists are:
- Test and evaluate network systems that currently exist
- Do regular, routine maintenance to make sure the network is operating properly
- Troubleshoot LANs, WANs and Internet systems for problems
Computer user support specialists have the following duties:
- Pay close attention to descriptions of computer problems by users
- Ask questions of customers to diagnose the computer problem
- Walk the customer through the necessary problem solving steps
- Set up and repair computer equipment
- Train novice users on how to work with new software or hardware
The median salary for this field is $62,300, with the top 10% earning more than $105,000 per year. Job demand for computer support specialists will rise by 27% by 2026, which is much faster than average.
- What You Can Do With a Computer Science Degree. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/technology/blog/what-can-you-do-with-computer-science-degree/
- What Can You Do with an IT Management Degree? (2017). Retrieved from http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/technology/blog/careers-with-information-systems-management-degree/
- Computer and Information Technology Occupations. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm