Systems and Information Technology Salary and Career Outlook
Systems and information technology involves a variety of tasks including troubleshooting network issues, hardware and software maintenance, and device management. Information technologists work within a variety of organizations and businesses to design efficient technological systems and applications for managing information. They also ensure that existing networks run smoothly so organizations can run at full speed.
There are a number of potential careers in information technology, or IT, and each specialty has different job responsibilities and salaries. As a whole, information technology careers boast above-average growth outlooks, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, thanks to the central role computers play in our lives. IT careers include hardware and software specialists, administrators, developers, and analysts, to name a few. While IT professionals have an intimate knowledge of computers, this field is different from machine learning and artificial intelligence—those fields involve creating machines that are capable of completing tasks themselves.
A few potential career paths in IT are:
Network and computer systems administrators. Administrators deal heavily with physical computers and their networks within an organization or workplace. In 2018, there were 383,900 jobs in the network and computer systems administration field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Computer systems analysts. Also known as systems architects, computer systems analysts often provide advice to businesses trying to speed up their systems and reduce operating costs. For this reason, their knowledge is highly valuable. There were 633,900 jobs in this area as of 2018, according to the BLS.
Computer support specialists. Support specialists, or IT technicians, work around the clock to answer questions and troubleshoot user problems. According to 2018 data from the BLS, there were an impressive 863,100 jobs in this specialty—and opportunities are expected to grow by 10% between 2018 and 2028.
Software developers. Software developers create systems for computers. That involves designing models for programmers and contemplating the bigger picture behind softwares. There were 1,365,500 software development jobs in 2018. The growth outlook is extremely positive at 22%, according to the BLS.
5 Great Systems and Information Technology Jobs
Information technologists provide much-needed expertise that keeps our computer systems running smoothly. Here are a few of the highest-earning IT specialties, according to May 2019 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Database administrators. Database administrators maintain data systems and protect them from security breaches. They have a firm grasp on database languages like Structured Query Language (SQL) and often acquire certificates in relevant computer systems. Their annual salary is $93,750, according to the BLS.
Information security analysts. Information security analysts keep computer networks safe by installing firewalls and data encryption programs. According to the BLS, their average salary is $99,730 and the field is expected to grow by 32% from 2018 to 2028.1
Software developers.Software developers build programs for computers and other devices. They tend to have high earning potential with an average wage of $105,590 per year, reports the BLS.
Computer network architects. These IT professionals build communication networks, like local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets. They typically have at least five years of experience in computer systems administration or analysis before entering the field—and this experience earns them a median salary of $112,690, according to the BLS.
Computer and information research scientists. These research scientists work at the cutting edge of IT innovation, investigating emerging technologies and new applications for existing ones. In 2019, the median salary for computer and information research scientists was $122,840, reports the BLS. A master’s degree in computer science or a related field is typically required to conduct this research.
Information Technology Job Outlook
As people become more reliant on computers to complete their daily tasks, IT professionals are increasingly important to our productivity. Compared to other industries, the projected growth of information technology is very high according to May 2019 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: 12%.1
The salaries of IT professionals vary, but their pay tends to be above average compared to other industries, according to May 2019 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the lower end are computer support specialists, who earn a median salary of $54,760 per year, and web developers, who earn a median salary of $73,760 per year. On the high end, IT professionals can earn over $100,000 per year, particularly if they’re specialists in computer architecture or software development. Somewhere down the middle are computer programmers, whose median pay is $86,550 per year, and database administrators , who make an average of $93,750 per year.
5 Top Paying Cities for IT Professionals
In addition to your area of specialty within IT, the city you work in can influence your salary. Across all IT occupations on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website, here are the best-paying cities for IT professionals, according to May 2019 data.
Bridgeport, Connecticut. Bridgeport seems like an unlikely tech city, but it’s no wonder when you consider its proximity to New York City and the fact that it’s the fifth largest city in New England. It’s one of the best places to work for database administrators, information security analysts, and computers systems administrators. In Bridgeport, computer network architects make, on average, $142,100 each year.
New York, New York. The hub of banking and finance in the United States is also a well-paying city for IT professionals, from software developers to information security analysts earn a mean wage of $127,850 in New York City.
Seattle, Washington. Seattle rivals Silicon Valley, attracting tech professionals with well-paying jobs—including database administrators, software developers, and web developers. In Seattle, web developers make an average $138,800 each year, ranking it the second highest-paying city for the occupation.
Portland, Oregon. Portland joins the ranks of powerhouse IT cities on the west coast, earning Oregon and Washington their nickname—the Silicon Forest. It’s among the best-paying cities for web developers and computer and IT researchers earn a mean salary of $144,010 in Portland.
Here are a few more states that also rank among the best-paying places to pursue a career in information technology:
Idaho. If you’re a computer and information research scientist, Idaho is the place to be. This is the third best-paying state for the profession, behind Virginia and California. IT researchers earn a mean wage of $138,120 per year.
Georgia. Georgia earns third place among the top-paying states for web developers. Here, web developers make $87,800 per year on average.
Washington. Silicon Valley might get all the attention, but Seattle recently surpassed the California region as the fastest growing tech hub in the country. This has given Washington state a leg up, placing them among the top five best-paying states for database administrators, software and web developers, computer and information research scientists, and computer programmers.
Is an IT Career Path Right for You?
Considering a career path in information technology? This profession holds potential for anyone with a passion for computer systems, mathematics, and problem solving — or a general interest in helping organizations run smoothly on the tech side. The variety of specialties means you have different options to explore—from user solutions to web development. Thanks to the presence of computers in our professional and personal lives, IT occupations will be growing steadily for years to come.