Information technology – often shortened to just IT – is a buzz phrase you’ve probably heard ad nauseum if you happen to work with IT personnel or went to school for anything related to computers. IT workers are highly specialized in their field, which is probably why they’re often just called “IT nerds.” They like what they do and understand it inside and out. IT workers are also essential to just about every modern business model. If a company relies on phones and emails, chances are that there’s an IT professional behind it all making sure the cogs in the machine function properly.
So what’s the real benefit of being the behind-the-scenes technological lifeblood of a company? Excellent pay is your reward, more often than not. As the economy finds its footing and more jobs open up, expect the requirements of IT professionals to be vast as ever. Curious what you might like to do and how much someone will pay you to do it? Consider these 10 leading fields and their median salary ranges.
1. IT consultant
Ranking number 13 on CNN’s most recent Best Jobs in America list, the work of being an IT consultant is as vague as it sounds. In this position, your job is to evaluate the systems and do the research that no one else entirely understands. As CNN puts it, everyone from local startups to the Fortune 500 companies need IT consultants to help them figure out the cheapest and fastest ways to run computers better.
Education: A bachelor’s degree in computer science definitely helps, like most positions on this list. CNN also recommends that an IT consultant specialize in a niche category to help focus on the kind of experience he or she gets.
Salary: $96,400, according to CNN.
2. Cloud architect
You’ve heard of cloud computing of course. Although that storage space existing in the ether can’t be touched literally, it still needs to be organized and given an architecture. That’s what this job is for.
Education: A bachelor’s degree.
Salary: $112,000, making it one of the highest paying IT jobs.
3. Computer forensic investigator
Computer crime detectives – The Best Schools reports that computer forensic investigators search for, identify and evaluate information from computer systems, often for trial evidence.
Education: TBS says that you’ll need a degree in computer forensics, information security or cyber security. Certification from a computer examiner board also helps.
Salary: $64,000 according to TBS.
4. Health IT specialist
Health IT is a blossoming field, especially with major changes going on in healthcare due to the Affordable Care Act and the gradual transition to electronic health records. Health IT specialists will mix computer knowledge will record-keeping skills, but specialties in medical coding, billing and cancer registry are also in demand, according to TBS.
Education: While some health IT jobs require only an associate degree and/or certification, supervisory technician positions call for bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Salary: $45,000, according to TBS.
5. Mobile application developer
Chances are that you and most people you know have smartphones and/or tablet computers. According to CareerRealism, the use of mobile tech is predicted to exceed personal computers at some time in 2013, so businesses are more heavily relying on IT professionals with experience in this field than ever before. Using basic coding languages, developers will create programs for future iOS and Android devices.
Education: A bachelor’s in software engineering, computer science, mobile computer or related fields, according to TBS.
Salary: $90,000 with high growth outlook, reports TBS.
6. Web developer
Education: TBS reports that the road to web design can be learned through accredited degree programs, but many web developers are self taught and use their “portfolios” to win positions.
Salary: $90,000, according to TBS.
7. Software engineer
Like video games? Want to design the next Facebook? This is for you. Software engineers are behind all the programs we run on our mobile devices and personal computers – and there is a very wide range of niche fields you can work in.
Education: According to TBS, a bachelor’s degree in software engineering or a related field is best.
Salary: $89,000 according to TBS.
8. Information technology vendor manager
Slightly more hands-off compared to some tech positions, vendor managers oversee supply when it comes to software and hardware. This can mean anything from Microsoft’s latest word processor to health IT programs for hospitals.
Education: Computer science degrees are helpful, but a deep understanding of business or even an MBA could clinch a job.
Salary: $88,000, reports TBS.
9. Geospatial professionals
Sound confusing? Geographic information systems are complicated, but exciting and getting moreso every day. GIS tech uses geographic data to evaluate and communicate trends and patterns in visually stylish and comprehensive ways, according to CareerRealism.
Education: Certificate programs and degrees both improve job outlook.
Salary: Up to $84,000, according to CareerRealism.
10. Data Modeler
Another position that translates poorly without jargon, these IT professionals create data designs and define relationships between data fields, according to TBS. Since any company’s data is vital, it’s modeling needs to work perfectly – a more complex task as reliance on computers grows.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer science, mathematics or IT – plus on-the-job experience, says TBS.
Salary: A hefty $103,000, according to TBS.