Look up the best paying jobs in information technology and you’ll get a variety of answers.
You can cherry-pick data to make lists of good paying IT jobs, and clickbait headlines will show you whopping salaries for specialty security architects with numbers skewed by geography or the big dollars offered at high-profile tech companies.
I take a more nuanced approach to show you how to make good career decisions that will lead you to a well-paying job that also suits your work style. Plus, I tap into how to build technology skills to make even more money.
Find an IT Job that Suits Your Style
As CEO for Creating IT Futures, I’ve spent nearly a decade helping people find in-roads to IT, especially people who are under-represented in tech and individuals who are lacking in opportunity to prepare for, secure and be successful in information technology careers.
One tip I’ve learned — Find a job in technology you like to avoid burnout.
Finding the right role is especially essential in a technical field, according to the Career Metis advice in 10 Survival Tips for Introverted Leaders in Technical Fields. For people who are good at helping and problem-solving and want to start a career in technology, there are good-paying jobs at the entry-level in technology.
One of our students in our IT-Ready Technical Support program, Alexandrea Alvarado, was on her way to being a graphic designer but started to understand along the way that she didn’t like the illustration that much. Graphic design jobs seemed few and far between in her area of the U.S.
During her graphic design program at a local college, she realized it wasn’t the drawing she liked so much, but the computers. Alvarado started looking for training programs and found our program, where she got a chance to earn her CompTIA A+ certification and get her first job into the IT industry.
“I didn’t know how to start or where to start in technology and this program really helped me find the pathway to get to where I wanted to be from where I was before and I’m really grateful for that,” Alvarado said.
The thing is lots of jobs pay well in the technology industry. Whether you’re good at helping people, noticing suspicious activity or getting things to work, information technology has a good-paying job to fit your skills. Using data from the US Department of Labor, we found jobs that pay more than $40 an hour, well above the national average.
These are jobs you can get through training and certification, reliable jobs that will set you up for a solid financial future.
Alvarado found her IT-Ready Technical Support curriculum combined practical knowledge, technical expertise, and soft skills development and paired it with preparation for the respected CompTIA A+ certification.
That curriculum was wrapped with career guidance, resume building tips and interview prep, plus connecting graduates with employers looking for trained, qualified professionals.
Set Your Management Goals
Overall, careers based in information technology offer high salaries compared to other jobs, and where you work in the management ladder can also affect how much you make. Whether you want to keep it simple as a non-management IT pro or call the shots in the boardroom, there’s a wide range of good salaries in the tech industry.
Here are some salary ranges based on workforce data from across the world.
- Non-Management IT Pros — The global average among non-management IT staff (such as network engineers, security analysts and programmers/developers) was $75,345.
- Mid-Level IT Managers — Among mid-level professionals (positions like IT audit managers, security officers, IT project managers and other management/team lead roles), the global average came in at $85,761.
- Senior IT Pros — Senior-level roles demonstrated a similar pattern in 2019. The global average of these positions (directors, chief security officers, senior engineers) came in at $109,689.
- The C-Suite — The global average salary for IT executives (chief technical officers, chief information officers, chief executive officers) in 2019 was reported at $123,508, with North America at the top of the list at $160,474.
Develop Skills to Boost Your Pay
U.S. employment data shows IT pros earn 43 percent more than people working in other occupations, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There are three ways to add to your salary according to the Global Knowledge 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report: promotions, job changes, and bonuses. Technology companies work hard to keep the best talent around, but they can’t always fight higher paychecks.
The research found that workers who left their company for the same or a similar position elsewhere earned 20 percent more.
Bonuses happen when you do your job well, and sometimes teams are rewarded for their work on big projects.
Around the world, about half of all IT staff received a bonus as well as 56 percent of IT decision-makers, which contributed to the overall increase in 2019. And about 15 percent of IT workers earned more money because of a promotion. Those who were promoted internally received a 14 percent increase in pay.
The real key is to stack your skills to watch your paycheck grow:
- 9% of IT professionals credit their salary bump to the addition of new skills to their toolbox, and
- Those same IT pros earned nearly $12,000 more than last year.
If you plan on getting to some of the highest paying jobs in IT, you’ll need to develop your skills along the way. A popular path is going from the help desk to networking, then to security.
Here are some of the basic skills to build as you increase your potential in the IT industry — and skills that that are validated by earning a CompTIA A+ certification.
- Networking — Understanding and being able to explain the different types of networks and connections and troubleshooting issues.
- Security — Identifying and protecting vulnerabilities devices and their network connections.
- Operational Procedures — Following best practices for safety, environmental impacts, and communication and professionalism.
- Operating Systems — Installing and supporting Windows, Linux and mobile operating systems.
- Hardware — Identifying, using and connected hardware components and devices.
- Software — Installing software and troubleshooting PC and mobile devices issues, including application and security.
- Mobile Devices — Installing and configuring laptops and other mobile devices.
- Virtualization and Cloud Computing — Comparing and contrasting cloud computing concepts and setting up client-side virtualization.
Get A Good Paying Start in Technology
If you want to break into the technology industry and make good money, set your sights on the help desk. It’s the easiest way to start in the technology industry and make $50,000 a year on average.
According to the most recent data available from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 863,000 help desk positions throughout the United States. Every midsize and larger company — be it hospital or bank or utility or university — operates a help desk. And that number is expected to increase by 10% within the next year.
Help desk employees need to have some understanding of technology and will be asked to make sure computer systems are up-to-date, secure and functioning properly. Daily responsibilities include running diagnostics and troubleshooting systems; installing software; updating computer hardware; on-boarding new employees by setting up their computer systems, login information and access to a company’s cloud services; training employees in new technologies; and providing technical support over the phone or online.
CompTIA Tech Career Academy helped Alvarado connect her with her first job in technology, on the help desk. Five years ago, Alvarado thought she was stuck in graphic design with no job prospects.
“That’s what I was worried about and I did not know what route I wanted to take,”
Alvarado said. Now, she’s focused on a job in cybersecurity and studying for CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+.
“That’s the path I want to go on, and it feels good that I know where I want to go. When I was in design, I had no idea where I wanted to go. Now it’s about building myself up to get to that goal and it’s exciting.”
Help desk experience broadens tech know-how and helps people working in the business of technology identify what aspect of information technology appeals to them, whether it’s networking, cybersecurity, servers, cloud infrastructure or project management.
On the help desk, you can earn additional certifications to add more autonomy, authority, and cash to your life.
Certification Sets You Apart
Companies are using computerized hiring to eliminate bias and get the best people in technology careers. “Finding qualified people is time-consuming, but now some job hunting software analyzes millions of social profiles and spits out a list of the most qualified people for a position,” according to the Top 8 Workplace Technology Trends for 2020.
Computers don’t have the same biases as human recruiters, meaning highly qualified candidates won’t be overlooked due to personal preference, appearance or even personality, according to the article, and recruiters use software and websites like LinkedIn to sort by certification.
CIO.com spells out the best entry-level certifications to help you get a foot in the door for a tech job interview. Certification like CompTIA A+ on your resume tells them you’ve got broad-based foundational tech skills and can handle desktops, laptops, mobile phones, printers, and other devices.
More technical roles in cybersecurity often require several years of experience and earning a certification like CompTIA Security+ while working in these roles reinforces the experience you’re gaining and proves to employers you have the foundational knowledge to move forward in high-paying careers in information security.
Top-paying IT certifications can net you more than $100,000 per year, according to CompTIA.
Best Paying Jobs in IT
Working on the help desk led Alvarado to another discovery: She loves working in cybersecurity. Now she’s on her way to be an information security analyst, one of the top-paying jobs in the market. No matter how you get started in technology, you can find a path to one of these well-paying careers.
Based on information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the best paying jobs in IT.
1) Information Security Analysts
Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems.
In this role, you’ll be identifying and protecting people from vulnerabilities related to devices and their network connections. Look for job titles like IT security specialist, software security engineer, security officer and IT security director and bring your creativity, problem-solving abilities, attention to detail, collaboration skills, research abilities. To land one of these cherry gigs, you’ll need training or experience with both computer systems and business practices. Certification like CompTIA IT Security+ is helpful.
2) Network and Computer Systems Administrators
Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of computer networks. Here, you’re working with the physical computer networks of a variety of organizations, which means job security in this day and age.
3) Software Developers
Software developers create applications or systems that run on a computer or another device. Communication skills, attention to detail, adaptability and problem-solving abilities come in handy in this role. This applies to mobile app developers, too.
To get started, you’ll need training or apprenticeship experience that familiarizes you with programming languages.
4) Computer Systems Analysts
Computer systems analysts study an organization’s current computer systems and find a solution that is more efficient and effective.
Bring your problem solving and communication skills to this career, and look for job titles like IT systems specialist, computer technician, and technology project manager.
5) Computer Network Architects
Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets. This job is for minds that can understand networking and are able to explain the different types of networks and connections and troubleshooting issues. This is a job that takes commitment — most computer network architects work full time and some work more than 40 hours per week — in exchange for a six-figure salary.
Whether you’re starting on the help desk or aiming high for an architect role, many IT jobs require some amount of experience or training.
Luckily the tech industry is more than willing to help you get the training you need.
If you have the desire and drive to get into tech, you’ll find a number of programs to help you.