Information Technology Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a career in information technology? Get real job description, career outlook and salary information to see if information technology is the right field for you.
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An Information Technology Career: Pros and Cons

When working in information technology (IT), you may be responsible for managing a network, designing and developing computer software or keeping important data safe and secure. The following pros and cons may help you to decide if a career in information technology is right for you.

Pros of an Information Technology Career
Expected above-average job growth for some computer occupations from 2012-2022*
Good earning potential (anywhere from $52,000 to $124,000 average yearly salary depending on the position)*
Unlimited learning potential (advance your career by keeping up with technology)*
Variety of specialty areas (programming, software, support, networks, systems)*
Work is autonomous and often flexible (can sometimes be completed off site, allowing for telecommuting)*

Cons of an Information Technology Career
Might have to compete with workers overseas for jobs*
Support positions often work long hours (may be on call overnight and weekends to update servers and fix issues)*
Certain skills, jobs may become obsolete as technology changes*
Work is sedentary and can be isolating, requiring long periods in front of a computer screen*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

Job Titles and Descriptions

You'll have different responsibilities depending on what area of IT you decide to focus on. Computer programmers, software application and systems developers, computer hardware engineers, web developers and computer network architects work to design, create and implement what makes up the IT infrastructure of an organization. Systems and security analysts as well as database administrators test, maintain and secure the IT infrastructure. Computer support specialists support the IT infrastructure by working closely with the employees who depend on it. Finally, computer and information systems managers are responsible for managing IT departments and staff.

Salary Info

In May 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average annual salary of $83,000 for computer programmers; $105,000 for software systems developers, $93,000 for security analysts, $70,000 for web developers and $102,000 for network architects. Computer user support specialists were at the low end - making on average about $52,000 per year - and computer and information research scientists were at the high end, averaging around $124,000 per year.

Job Outlook

Software developers had a good job outlook in IT according to the BLS, with employment expected to grow 20% for systems developers and 23% for application developers between 2012 and 2022. Employment for network and systems administrators (12%), security analysts (37%), web developers (20%) and network architects (15%) were also predicted to grow as fast as or faster than average during the same time period. Security analysts may especially be in demand given organizations' increasing need to secure data, like medical records, and safeguard against cyber attacks. Computer support specialists should see about 17% employment growth while and computer and information systems managers should see about 15% employment growth, which is faster than the 11% average the BLS projected across all occupations.

What are the Requirements?

Education and Training Requirements

Entry-level positions in IT typically require a bachelor's degree in an area like information technology, information systems, computer science or software development. In some fields, like computer programming, an associate's degree is sufficient. If you're interested in a career in management, you may want to consider a master's degree in management information systems or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Information Systems.

Advancement in many IT professions is tied to advancements in technology, which makes on-the-job training, continuing education and professional development so valuable. Computer support specialists must be aware of changes in technology to be able to solve problems as they arise. Computer programmers must stay up to date on new and upgraded programming languages.

What Do Employers Look For?

Besides a bachelor's degree in an area of IT, employers may look for field-specific training or experience. For example, a database security analyst should have experience as a database administrator, and a computer and information systems manager looking to work in a hospital should have previous IT experience in a healthcare setting. Communication and listening skills are important for IT professionals who work directly with people, whereas programmers and security analysts should be analytical and detail oriented. Read the following actual job postings to learn what employers were looking for in an IT professional during April 2012:

  • A senior-living and healthcare management company is looking for a support specialist at its White Plains, NY, facility. The ideal candidate should have a computer science degree, knowledge of specific applications and experience troubleshooting mobile devices and working with computer hardware, operating systems and diagnostic utilities.
  • An IT company northeast of Richmond, VA, that provides services to the government and defense sectors is seeking a computer programmer/software developer with an active security clearance, programming language certification, 5-8 years of software development and two years of programming experience.
  • Santa Clara County in San Jose, CA, is looking to hire information systems managers in various departments who have current knowledge of network architecture, database systems and structures, programming language source code and security techniques.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

Numerous certifications are available for IT professionals in areas such as software, programming languages and networks. Becoming certified will help you to demonstrate competence in a certain area and may enable you to stand out to potential employers. Popular hardware, software and systems certifications include those from companies like Microsoft, Cisco, HP, IBM and Linux. C++ and Java are the most common programming languages in which to become certified, and more general certifications are available for network, security and support professionals.

Other Fields to Consider

Perhaps you like the idea of working with computers and technology, but you'd rather be in a position that allows your creative side to flourish. If you love video games and have graphic arts or multimedia design skills, you could become a video game designer. You'll work with a team of designers and technical and production staff to design characters, story lines, mechanics and other game features. Bachelor's degree programs in computer and video game design are available, or you could combine degrees in visual arts/design and computer science. PayScale.com reported in April 2012 that the median annual salary for a video game designer in the entertainment or game software industry was around $56,000.

Perhaps you'd like the challenge of developing new technology as well as solutions to problems on both the product and user ends. If that's the case, you may want to consider becoming a computer and information research scientist. A Ph.D. in computer science or a related area is often required for this highly technical and research-driven career. According to the BLS, in May 2011, computer and information research scientists earned a mean annual salary of around $103,000.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSM in Information Technology
      • Master: Information Technology
      • Master: Information Technology - Project Management
      • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance
      • MS in Information Technology - Business Intelligence and Analytics
    Bachelor's
      • BS in IT - Supply Chain Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
      • BS in Cloud Computing and Solutions
      • BS in Cybersecurity
      • BS in IT - IT Management
      • BSIT: Network Admin
    Associate's
      • AASIT: Network Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Human Resources and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Public Safety Leadership and Technology Management
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Security Technology Concentration
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Network Management Concentration
      • B.S. - Information Technology Admin and Management With No Declared Minor or Concentration
      • Bachelor: Technology Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD-TIM - Computer Science
      • Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Computer and Information Security
      • PhD-TIM - Cybersecurity
    Master's
      • Master of Science in Information Technology
      • Master of Science in Information Technology - Project Management
      • Master of Science in Information Technology - Cloud and Networking Infrastructure Management
      • Master of Science in Information Technology - Network Risk Management and Control
      • MSTIM - Information Systems
      • MPA - Management of Engineering and Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Columbia Southern University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Information Technology
      • BSBA - Information Technology
      • BS - Information Systems Security
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA with an Emphasis in Data Analytics
    Master's
      • Bridge to the M.S. in Information Technology Management
      • M.S. in Information Technology Management
      • M.S. in Computer Science
      • Master of Science in Cyber Security
      • Master of Science in Cyber Security (Bridge)
      • M.S. in Data Science
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Information Technology
      • B.S. in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cybersecurity
      • B.S. in Cybersecurity
      • B.S. in Computer Programming
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Information Technology
      • Master - Information Technology Management
      • MS - Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
      • MS - Data Analytics
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Information Technology
      • BS - Computer Science
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Florida Tech

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Information Technology
      • MS in Information Technology/Cybersecurity
      • MS in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity
      • MS in Information Technology/Database Administration
      • Master's in Business Administration/Cybersecurity
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Computer Information Systems
    Associate's
      • AS in Computer Information Systems
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. in Cybersecurity
      • M.S. in Business Analytics
    Bachelor's
      • B.A. in Leadership Studies - Information Technology
      • B.S. in Computer Science
      • B.S. in Cybersecurity
      • B.A.S. in Information Systems
      • B.S. in Information Systems Technology - General
      • B.S. in Information Systems Technology - Information Security
  • Campus and Online Programs
    9. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Game Design (Campus)
      • Master of Science - Business Intelligence
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Information Technology Bachelors (Campus)
      • BS - Information Technology Bachelors
      • BS - Computer Science
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Liberty University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA: Information Systems
    Master's
      • MS: Cyber-Security
      • MS: Information Systems: Technology Management
      • MS: Information Systems: Information Assurance
      • MS: Information Technology: Network Design & Security
    Bachelor's
      • BS: Computer Science Cyber-Security
      • BS: Information Systems
      • BS: Information Technology: Application and Database Development
      • BS: Information Technology: Gaming Design
      • BS: Information Systems: Database
      • BS: Information Systems: Data Networking
    Associate's
      • AA: Information Systems

Featured Schools

Purdue University Global

  • MSM in Information Technology
  • BS in IT - Supply Chain Management
  • AASIT: Network Admin

Which subject are you interested in?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
  • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Technology Management
  • B.S. - Information Technology: Security Technology Concentration
  • B.S. - Information Technology: Network Management Concentration

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
  • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
  • Master of Science in Information Technology
  • Master of Science in Information Technology - Project Management

What is your highest level of education?

Columbia Southern University

  • BS - Information Technology
  • BSBA - Information Technology
  • BS - Information Systems Security

What is your highest level of education completed?

Grand Canyon University

  • DBA with an Emphasis in Data Analytics
  • Bridge to the M.S. in Information Technology Management
  • B.S. in Information Technology

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Information Technology
  • Master - Information Technology Management
  • BS - Information Technology
  • BS - Computer Science

What is your highest level of education?

Florida Tech

  • MS in Information Technology
  • BS in Computer Information Systems
  • AS in Computer Information Systems

What is your highest level of education completed?

Regent University

  • M.S. in Cybersecurity
  • M.S. in Business Analytics
  • B.A. in Leadership Studies - Information Technology
  • B.S. in Computer Science

What is your highest level of education completed?