Emerging technologies and the lack of workforce-ready, college graduates have created a vast skills gap between organizations with technical needs and the American workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, information technology jobs are expected to grow by 22% through the year 2020. However, IT jobs continue to go unfilled as college graduates enter the workforce lacking technical skills. While this lack of qualified talent has created a challenge for organizations across the country, it has also provided exceptional opportunities for millions of unemployed or underemployed Americans looking to improve their quality of life.
While a four-year degree is still the requirement for most professional careers, IT offers an opportunity to achieve professional employment through certification and on-the-job training. This allows entry level IT employees to work while they continue to build experience and gain the required expertise. Additionally, certifications can be achieved in a matter of months rather than spending multiple years in college. While all IT professionals begin their careers in entry level positions, top pay can be achieved by expanding one’s expertise with additional experience and certification training. Here’s a list of the best paying jobs in information technology for those who are ready to meet the industry demand.
Software development provides the best paying opportunities in information technology and ranks number one on this list. Software developers utilize full stack techniques to design and create software applications from scratch. This wide-ranging field provides lucrative employment opportunities for those who work in a variety of industries such as mobile, big data, security and more. Additionally, employment opportunities exist all over the globe for those who develop superior coding skills, validate their expertise with certifications and create content-rich portfolios. Those who learn to code and create software are in high-demand and expected to receive top pay for many years to come.
Software Development Job Titles:
- Software Architect
- Software Engineer
- DevOps Engineer
Software Development Certifications:
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Oracle Certified Professional (OCP)
- MySQL Developer
- Web development
- Full stack development
Cloud computing provides one of the best paying opportunities in information technology and ranks number two on this list. The demand for qualified talent to fill cloud computing roles continues to grow as more organizations move their services and data into the cloud. For years, data and services were provided on premise and stored on physical database servers. Today, organizations are learning to streamline their infrastructure and eliminate the need for equipment by hosting services and storing their company’s most valuable assets offsite. However, this new technology requires technically skilled experts to ensure that services and data are recoverable, secure and available when needed.
Cloud computing job titles:
- Cloud developer
- Cloud systems administrator
- Cloud systems engineer
Cloud computing certifications:
- CompTIA Cloud+
- Amazon Certified Solutions Architect
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA Cloud)
- Database administration/management
- Enterprise infrastructure
- Enterprise applications
- Database security
With the growing popularity of cloud computing, one might think IT infrastructure would rank lower on the list of best paying IT jobs. However, many organizations have yet to make the jump into cloud computing and most top positions in IT infrastructure require an advanced level of expertise. These two factors place IT architecture positions toward the top of the list of best paying IT jobs. As cloud computing continues to evolve, those who specialize in infrastructure will need to design, manage and secure networks that include onsite and offsite IT solutions.
IT architecture job titles:
- IT Infrastructure Architect
- Sr. Systems Architect
- Enterprise Architect
IT architecture certifications:
- Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP)
- Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP Data Center)
- Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP Cloud)
- Advanced networking
- Enterprise systems
- Network Security
- Cloud computing
Major security breaches have been getting a lot more media attention as the number of hacking cases has grown. The Sony breach of 2014 and the more recent hacking of the 2016 Clinton campaign have shined another spotlight on the growing need for cybersecurity. Again, the lack of qualified talent to fill these positions has created incredible opportunities for those who train and validate their skills with certifications. The growing rate of black hat hacking continues to push the cybersecurity industry to meet the ever-growing challenge. This is an ideal career for anyone who is interested in protecting an organization’s most valuable resources from the expanding threat of cyber-attacks.
Cybersecurity job titles:
- Chief Information Security Officer
- Security Analyst
- Security Systems Administrator
- Certified Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Enterprise Systems
- Database management
The main purpose of information technology is to provide data and services to the organization or business. IT professionals who embark on a career in business technology act as intermediaries between the IT staff and the business stakeholders to ensure quality of service. Business technology professionals are often involved in strategic planning, business model analysis, process design and systems analysis. This is a great career for IT professionals who also have exceptional communications skills.
Business technology job titles:
- Business analyst
- Systems analyst
- Business solutions analyst
Business technology certifications:
- Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)
- Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA)
- Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
- Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
- Software applications
Enterprise Infrastructure Management
The backbone of the IT department is the enterprise infrastructure and the management careers associated with it rank six on this list of highest paying IT jobs. The enterprise system includes all the servers, applications and network that connect them. While this field is slowly losing ground to cloud computing, there remains a need to maintain on premise IT services. This makes enterprise infrastructure a lucrative and in-demand career path that will provide exceptional employment opportunities for years to come.
Enterprise Infrastructure Management job titles:
- IT director
- IT manager
Systems manager Enterprise Infrastructure Certifications:
- Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MSCE)
- Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
Project Management Professional (PMP) Recommended Experience:
- Servers and databases
- Advanced networking
- System applications
- Cloud computing
Finishing at number seven on the list of best paying IT jobs is Project Management. Project managers utilize industry recognized practices to carry out and direct IT projects. This field spans across every aspect of information technology and provides in-demand skills for individuals who train and obtain the required experience. This role is ideal for those who possess a broad range of IT skills, excellent communication and strong leadership qualities. IT professionals who embark on career in project management will enjoy lucrative employment opportunities all over the world.
Project management job titles:
- Project manager
- Program manger
- Project director
Project management certifications:
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
- Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
- Certified Scrum Master (CSM)
- Logged project hours
- Working with project teams
- Advanced IT knowledge
Summing it Up
Information technology offers incredible employment opportunities for those who are willing to train and validate their expertise with certifications. While everyone who embarks on an IT career starts at the entry level, advanced positions can be achieved with additional certifications and work-related experience. Anyone interested in pursuing a career in IT is encouraged to visit www.knowledgenet.com and chat with one of their friendly representatives.
Average salaries for the highest paying jobs in IT:
The data provided in this body of work is based on a 2016 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Global Knowledge.