- Mobile Applications Developer
- Information Assurance Analyst
- Database Administrator
- User Experience Designer
- Computer Support Specialist
- Network Administrator
- Software Systems Developer
- IT Business Analyst
- E-learning Specialist
Computer-savvy millennials who feel most comfortable behind the screen can benefit from today’s explosive growth of great information technology jobs. Information technology is an umbrella term that covers all careers concerned with data storage, retrieval, transmission, and security on computer networks. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States will add 546,100 IT jobs by 2026 for faster-than-average growth of 13 percent. One report in DicE Magazine reported that 70 percent of enterprises with 5,000+ staff, including Cisco Systems, Microsoft, and Adobe, with increase information technology are hiring in 2018. After consulting with CNN Money, we’ve chosen the following five IT careers that are facing pipeline shortages of STEM technical talent.
1. Mobile Applications Developer
Pew Research reports that three-fourths of U.S. adults own smartphones, so demand is high for mobile applications developers to code programs for iOS, Android, Windows, Firefox, and more. These skilled IT designers attract downloads by maximizing cellular technology to entertain and assist mobile users. They’re responsible for analyzing customers’ needs, developing software, testing for bugs, creating maintenance upgrades, and marketing apps to investors. Graded “A” for telecommuting, mobile applications developer is an IT career with 10-year job growth of 19% and median yearly pay of $97,100.
2. Information Assurance Analyst
Symantec’s 2017 Internet Security Threat study discovered that hackers target 400+ businesses each day, so information assurance is unsurprisingly one of the hottest tech jobs. Information assurance analysts are superheroes without capes who monitor networks to protect against data breaches. Stopping cyber attacks involves installing IT encryptions, testing for vulnerabilities, researching new security software, training staff on safe practices, and crafting recovery plans. Information assurance analysts fare well with certifications like ISSEP and CSFA in a field poised for 18% growth and a $98,900 mean wage.
3. Database Administrator
Famous databases like Google Scholar, JSTOR, LexisNexis, and Scopus rely on administrators to keep user-friendly data readily available to users. Ranked sixth among information technology jobs by the U.S. News & World Report, database administrators are gatekeepers who store pertinent records for libraries, hospitals, corporations, government bodies, and more. Their day-to-day tasks include establishing user permissions, creating security measures, testing for errors, backing up data, and installing upgrades. Currently, 11% job growth is increasing database administration openings with average income of $93,800.
4. User Experience Designer
Moz found that the top 100 applications on Google Play had 3.1 million ratings on average, which means customer satisfaction greatly affects marketing and sales. Tech companies are hiring user experience designers to improve the usability, visual appeal, and digital accessibility of products for consumers’ delight. Key duties include creating user personas, analyzing the information architecture, crafting wireframes, prototyping ideal designs, conducting test runs, and using feedback for updates. With median pay of $85,900 and 13% growth, UX designer is among the information technology jobs graded “A” for low stress.
Imagine typing the URL for popular websites like Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube, and Amazon only to receive a disappointing 404 error page. Webmasters are World Wide Web wizards who prevent this by properly maintaining servers for steady Internet traffic. It’s one of the IT careers where professionals upload content, repair broken links, troubleshoot user issues, designing page templates, code enhanced scripts, monitor security, and market for SEO. Webmasters who stay abreast of tech changes can expect 27% growth for a $61,200 average salary.
6. Computer Support Specialist
Computer usage isn’t easy for everyone. The National Center for Education Statistics found that 16 percent of Americans are wholly digitally illiterate. Many others struggle to troubleshoot significant tech glitches. That’s where computer support specialists come in. Computer support specialists give accurate advice to troubleshoot network issues. Computer support specialists are technological tutors who guide clients through remedies and repairs. Important duties include diagnosing computer errors, outlining problem-solving steps, installing new IT equipment, training network users, and performing system maintenance. Computer support specialists can work remotely via phone or email and at in-person help desks. These specialists earn an information technology associate degree salary averaging $56,550. The 10-year job outlook is bright with a 10% hiring uptick expected.
7. Network Administrator
Businesses in today’s interconnected world need efficient, secure networks to communicate. Desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, and other cutting-edge tech interfaces must meld into one cohesive system. Network administrators are at the helm of these systems to achieve their organizations’ computing goals. Network administrators are the computer captains who man the inner workings of local and wide area networks cable by cable. Key tasks include designing network infrastructure, installing critical hardware, updating system software, adding server users, outlining security protocol, and monitoring network performance. Network administrators usually work on-site, full-time for companies in diverse industries from accounting to advertising. Network administrators with certifications, such as CompTIA and Cisco, maximize the field’s 5% job growth. Their average annual pay is presently $88,410.
8. Software Systems Developer
Applications can’t run on their own. Every computer program relies on the operating system to function. Operating systems determine how computers receive and process coded information from applications. Widely used operating systems include Microsoft Windows, Apple macOS, Android OS, and Linux. Software systems developers are the back-end builders who brainstorm efficient machine solutions. Unlike app developers, systems developers focus on how hardware loads and executes computer functions when commanded. Daily responsibilities include analyzing computer users’ needs, designing system interfaces, presenting system models, giving programmers coding instructions, testing software usefulness, and creating future updates. Software systems developers post mean yearly earnings of $111,620. Demand for systems development will add 10% more jobs from 2018 to 2028.
9. IT Business Analyst
Companies have tons of options in today’s whopping $426 enterprise software market. Executives need to choose technology advancements wisely to reap the best return on their big-dollar investment. Fortunately, IT business analysts are there to run the cost-benefit analyses. IT business analysts collaborate with finance departments to determine whether new software meets company needs on budget. This career uniquely blends IT and business to make organizational networks more efficient without wasting spending. Job duties include evaluating business technology, assessing change proposals, running data tests, defining tech improvements, and recommending top-quality IT products. Graded “A” for low stress, IT business analysis is a high-growth job multiplying by 21% this decade. Analysts earn an information technology associate degree salary averaging $83,000 per year.
10. E-Learning Specialist
In December 2019, Inside Higher Ed reported that 34.7 percent of college students study at least partially online. Nearly 10.2 million Americans take online university courses. Information technology advancements make it possible to earn entire degrees online 24/7. Thus, e-learning specialists are essential to architect virtual classrooms where pupils prosper. E-learning specialists are the educational masterminds who program internet tools for teachers to reach young people’s brains. Crucial day-to-day roles include adapting learning management systems, suggesting online delivery strategies, uploading courseware, coordinating learning material, running student/teacher demos, and facilitating tech support. Information technology graduates can work for K-12 schools, colleges, trade schools, and even adult training programs. E-learning specialists will see 8% growth for jobs with median annual pay of $64,900.
Getting an Associate Degree in Information Technology
Associate degrees have two-year curricula of 60-70 credits at community colleges and vocational schools. Most 24-month associate degrees start with a survey of general education courses from English composition to mathematics. Associate students then declare a career-specific major, such as information technology. IT associate majors take fundamental 100- and 200-level undergraduate courses in computing. For example, information technology students take classes like Computer Operating Systems and Network Security. Having a high school diploma or GED certificate is the only mandated course prerequisite. Most IT associate degrees are project-based with computer lab experience and practica. Information technology associate programs prepare for 21st-century “new-collar” jobs from Silicon Valley to Wall Street. IT associate degrees are starter kits for launching versatile tech careers.
Why is finishing an IT associate degree advantageous? Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science majors are the shortest college degrees. Ambitious associate majors could study year-round and graduate in 18 months. Associate students save time and money by going the two-year school route. The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) lists an average yearly tuition of $3,435. That’s nearly one-third of the public, four-year price of $9,410. Therefore, less of the information technology associate degree salary goes toward loan debt repayments. Associate degrees aren’t necessarily dead ends either. Senior colleges have 2+2 transfer pathways to culminate an IT bachelor’s degree in another two years. Associate graduates can establish entry-level employment and get bachelor’s tuition assistance. Associate degrees can be cheap stepping stones into universities.
The information technology associate degree salary is higher than most two-year majors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says computer/IT positions provide a mean $88,240 annual income. In comparison, average associate degree earnings are $41,496. Information technology majors at the associate level make more than some bachelor’s graduates. The IT sector affords workers tremendous benefits and job security with low unemployment of 1.6 percent. IT associate degrees build essential skills for designing, programming, installing, and troubleshooting tech solutions. Associate IT majors learn to coordinate computer systems and analyze efficient improvements. IT associate graduates have the communication, problem-solving, time management, and organizational skills employers want. Associate degrees let IT professionals work up the career ladder to management titles.
Succeeding in lucrative IT careers typically only requires an associate degree to start. If desired, two-year degrees also provide the least expensive path to a bachelor’s IT diploma. Talented information technology professionals collect high compensation for leading computer innovations. Over time, IT workers can advance into more senior-level positions, including chief technology officer. Other great information technology jobs include software engineer, data analyst, scrum master, user interface designer, computer forensics investigator, network architect, programmer, cloud computing specialist, web developer, quality assurance analyst, site reliability engineer, and social media manager. Opportunities are limitless for earning a big information technology associate degree salary.