It’s hard to go wrong with a technology degree. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, computer science is the STEM major with the highest job offer and job acceptance rate. Perhaps that’s why a recent CareerBuilder survey revealed that from 2010 to 2014, the number of students completing science technology degrees grew by 49%, and the number of computer and information science students rose by 32%. Making these two of the degrees with the fastest growth rates.
A degree in a computer-related field can lead to a variety of well-paying and high-demand jobs. The best tech jobs pay significantly more than the average median wage of $34,750 and have projected growth rates that are faster than the 11% overall rate anticipated for the average U.S. job.
By sorting through data from several sources, including the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Glass Door, we compiled the following list of the ten best tech jobs.
#1 Data Scientist
Job outlook through 2020: Not available
Number of new jobs through 2020: Not available
Median annual wage: $118,709
While specific job outlook and new job numbers are not available from the BLS, the Harvard Business Review calls data scientist “the sexiest job of the 21st century". There is a high demand for individuals who can evaluate data to help companies make business decisions; however, there is a relatively low supply of qualified candidates. According to a Burtch Works report, salaries for level three data scientist managers are as high as $250,000. Burtch Works also notes that most data scientists have either a Master’s degree or a Ph.D. in mathematics/statistics, computer science or engineering.
#2 Software Developer
Job outlook through 2020: 22%
Number of new jobs through 2020: 222,600
Median annual wage: $102,880
By far, the largest number of job openings on the list are for software developers. This growth is fueled by the demand for mobile apps and other products that are driven by technology. While some software developers design applications, systems software developers design operating systems, and interfaces. A bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or mathematics is usually a requirement.
#3 Information Security Analyst
Job outlook through 2020: 37%
Number of new jobs through 2020: 27,400
Median annual wage: $88,890
More than one billion records were breached in 2014, according to Gemalto, an international security company. These breaches illustrate the urgent need for information security analysts. A bachelor’s degree in computer science or programming is the typical requirement, although some employers prefer an MBA in information systems.
#4 Computer Systems Analyst
Job outlook through 2020: 25%
Number of new jobs through 2020: 127,700
Median annual wage: $82,710
Computer systems analysts are needed to design and install new computer systems, and IT consulting firms hire most of them. Growth has occurred primarily in the following areas: cloud computing, mobile technology, and healthcare records. Candidates usually need a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field, although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that sometimes a liberal arts degree is sufficient.
#5 Web Developer
Job outlook through 2020: 20%
Number of new jobs through 2020: 28,500
Median annual wage: $63,490
This is one of the few jobs on the list that you can get without a bachelor’s degree. There are three types of web developers; web designers, who create the layout and feel of the website, need an associate degree in web design. Webmasters, who maintain the website, may have a webmaster certificate, an associate degree in web development, or a bachelor’s degree, depending on the employer. Web architects, who handle the technical construction of the site, usually need a bachelor’s degree in programming or computer science.
#6 Sales Engineer
Job outlook through 2020: 35%
Number of new jobs through 2020: 5,900 total (specific numbers for technology not available)
Median annual wage: $96,340
The demand for sales engineers in other industries is only projected to increase by 9%; however, the growth rate is four times as fast for professionals selling computer software and hardware. Most sales engineers have a degree in business, science, or a technology field. They must also be well-versed in technology to present proposals, explain products and answer questions.
#7 Computer and Information Systems Manager
Job outlook through 2020: 15%
Number of new jobs through 2020: 50,900
Median annual wage: $127,640
Computer and information systems managers go by a variety of other names; for example, information technology managers, chief information officers (CIOs), chief technology officers (CTOs), IT directors, or IT security managers. While duties may vary, they usually oversee an IT team and handle the organization's technology needs. A bachelor’s degree in a computer or information science-related major is required, although some employers prefer an MBA.
#8 Computer and Information Research Scientist
Job outlook through 2020: 15%
Number of new jobs through 2020: 4,100
Median annual wage: $108,360
This position has the least number of new jobs, but that’s because it is a difficult field to enter. Computer and Information Research Scientists typically require a Ph.D.; therefore the candidate pool is small, which keeps the demand for this role high. Among other duties, computer and information research scientists write algorithms to help businesses analyze data.
#9 Network and Computer Systems Administrator
Job outlook through 2020: 12%
Number of new jobs through 2020: 42,900
Median annual wage: $75,790
This job has the lowest growth rate on the list, but don’t let that fool you. Companies need these professionals to handle their day-to-day technology operations, which include installing and maintaining local and wide area networks, intranets, etc. The largest area of growth for network administrators will be in computer systems design, which is projected to increase by 35%. Typically, candidates for this role hold a degree in information science, computer science, computer engineering or electrical engineering.
#10 Computer Support Specialists
Job outlook through 2020: 17%
Number of new jobs through 2020: 123,000
Median annual wage: $47,610
It’s the lowest paying job on the list, but it also requires the least amount of time in school; most employers will hire candidates with a postsecondary certificate or an associate degree. There are two types of computer support specialists: computer network support specialists and computer user support specialists. Computer network support specialists usually work with IT staff to troubleshoot problems. Computer user support specialists, also known as help desk techs, assist customers and non-technical employees.
The Bottom Line
Technology is one of the fastest-growing and most in-demand industries. Use this list as a guide to evaluating the job outlook, salary and education requirements for your dream tech job.