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Technology careers offer professionals the opportunity to work in many industries, including healthcare and business. Careers in technology can be pursued in several work environments, including fast-paced startups, innovative tech firms, and small IT departments.
Read on to learn about popular career paths in technology and explore different postsecondary education options.
Why Get a Job in Tech?
Let's be honest — the last few decades have been tough for the job market. With recessions, housing crises, and a pandemic, a lot of people have been left frazzled and desperate for a moment of job security. The tech industry is promising for many people as it is consistently growing, pays well, and offers decent job security.
In fact, the tech industry is so big now that it makes up 35% of the total world market, according to a report by Zippia. According to the same report, technology is the second biggest industry in the US, behind only healthcare.
For those looking to enter a well-paid and relatively secure industry, it makes sense that the technology sector is at the top of the list.
Highest-Paying Technology Jobs for 2023
- DevOps Engineer – $149,410
- Product Manager – $136,310
- Computer and Information Research Scientist – $131,490
- Software Developer – $120,730
- Computer Network Architect – $120,520
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) Architect – $112,430
- Information Security Analyst – $102,600
- Mobile App Developer – $98,550
- Data Scientist – $96,710
- Full-Stack Web Developer – $89,700
Career Paths in Technology
Careers with a technology degree offer many different specialties, including programming, data administration, and information security. Technology professionals typically work in an office environment and spend most of their time in front of a computer.
Below, you can explore some of the different career paths available in technology fields, as well as the level of education needed to qualify for them.
Computer programmers write code to make computers, software, and other applications run successfully. Programmers typically need a bachelor's degree to get started and often learn several different programming languages.Finformatio
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Engineer
Artificial intelligence engineers automate everyday business processes for companies across many industries.These engineers help businesses to run more efficiently, lower costs, and increase their profits using AI strategies. They work with business executives, product managers, and software development teams to build and maintain applications. The job requires algorithm design, testing, and developing AI models for data collection.Explore Computer Programming Careers
Computer science includes the design and implementation of computer software, applications, and hardware. Computer scientists create new approaches to computing through new technology and improved designs. These professionals need a bachelor's or master's degree.
Computer Research Scientist
Computer research scientists fix problems in commuting by developing theories and models. They test and improve products and processes and also design new architectures and prototype algorithms to solve problems in different sectors. Computer research scientists may specialize in programming or robotics.Employers often require at least a master's degree in computer science, if not a Ph.D.
Computer Hardware Engineer
Roughly 22% of computer hardware engineers work in computer systems design and related services, where they design and test new computer hardware. They commonly work on household products such as home appliances, phones, and cars. Computer hardware engineers usually learn to program from computer engineering courses taken during a bachelor's program. Employers may prefer hiring candidates who have graduated from an ABET-accredited program.Explore Computer Science Careers
Database managers and administrators work with large amounts of data. These professionals organize and store data for later use. Database managers must also create security measures to keep their clients' data safe. Entry-level careers in database management typically require a bachelor's degree.Explore Database Management Careers
Professionals in data science usually need a bachelor's or master's degree. Data science uses different scientific methods and algorithms to synthesize data and yield actionable insights. Data science includes specialties like data mining and machine learning.
Data is the new digital currency, and data scientists are the ones helping companies, NGOs, and governments turn all of that raw data into something that can tell a story.
Data scientists source, clean, manage, and analyze immense amounts of data looking for actionable insights. They also create algorithms and data models to forecast outcomes. This is a math and statistics-heavy role, with a significant number of data scientists holding at least a master's degree, if not a Ph.D.
Explore Data Science Careers
Data visualization allows professionals to take raw data and create a graphical representation of their findings. This field helps organizations understand important trends in data and find the right takeaways. Data visualization professionals usually need a bachelor's degree.Explore Data Visualization Careers
Information systems professionals collect and distribute information to different branches of a company. These professionals also create and maintain digital storage systems for information. Entry-level positions in this industry require a bachelor's degree.
Computer and Information Research Scientist
Computer and Information Research Scientists work to improve both hardware and software systems. It is one of the more difficult jobs, but also one of the highest paid. These scientists often work with complex algorithms and programming languages and design computer architecture.
Overall, their goal is to develop innovative ways to use both existing and potential future technologies. They are particularly prevalent in medical and science fields.
Explore Information Systems Careers
Network security professionals protect computer and network systems from different avenues of attack. These professionals must keep private data safe while maintaining and upgrading security methods. Professionals in network security need a bachelor's degree.
Information Security Analyst
Information and network security is expected to be one of the most critical areas in tech to develop evermore invasive technologies. The world is full of examples of hacks, everything from large-scale cybersecurity attacks like the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack in 2021 to individual privacy issues, like when hackers figure out how to access in-home security cameras.
Keeping all types of products and software safe from security breaches will be one of the most significant projects in the upcoming years.
Information Security Analyst
Roughly 141,200 information security analysts work in the industry, with most working in computer systems design, finance and insurance, and information. These industries need information security analysts to deploy security safeguards to protect the company's networks and protect confidential information. Information security analysts often make security recommendations and test for system vulnerabilities and security breaches.
To most people, the word "hacker" means criminal, but it's not quite that simple. The term "hacking" originated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1960s to refer to outside-the-box ways to create more efficient computer systems. Now there is a growing demand for certified ethical hackers, a type of information security professional.
Ethical hackers use the tools and mindset of criminal hackers to test the security of an organization's data or network. This job requires strong technical skills, including knowledge of operations systems, proficiency in penetration testing, and strong knowledge of coding and cryptography. Ethical hackers often code in Python, BASH, and C++.
Average Salary: $79,620 (Payscale, June 2022)Explore Network Security Careers
Software engineering requires knowledge of programming languages. These engineers recommend upgrades for existing software and design new applications to meet the changing needs of users. Software engineers need a bachelor's degree.
Average Annual Salary in May 2022: $88,660Software engineers develop and program computer applications. This can include developing new applications, updating and maintaining existing software, and designing operating systems. Software engineers can both design a program's functions and code those functions, or they can work with designers to execute their ideas.
Software engineers formerly needed to work in offices to collaborate. With increasingly useful coworking platforms and developments in cloud computing, software engineering is entirely possible from a home office.
Site Reliability Engineer
Site reliability engineers (SRE) fill a role in tech that you may not have heard about but is functionally crucial to a company's success. The SRE role originated at Google in 2003 and soon became a best practice in the industry.
An SRE is responsible for successful communication between the software development team and the operations team at a company. Once a client installs software, the SRE troubleshoots software problems, escalates issues, and documents problems and solutions.
If you enjoy problem-solving and helping teams communicate, you might enjoy the SRE role.
Average Salary: $118,390 (Payscale, June 2022)Explore Software Engineering Careers
Web development focuses on the creation and design of websites. Web developers need at least an associate degree. These professionals write code to create websites and help with design and layout to meet their clients' specific needs.
Average Annual Salary in May 2022: $60,760Web developers program every part of a website's functionality. This could include setting up payment systems on an online shop, programming the way a website registers users, or writing ways for users to submit comments. They can also set up how a news site automatically updates to feature newly published articles.
Like software engineering, web development is a high-paying work-from-home job. While working from home may require slightly more care in ensuring cross-team communication than working in an office, all functions of this job can be performed from home.
Average Annual Salary in May 2022: $77,140
While many of the jobs on this list deal with designing the inner workings of a program or website, a front-end developer designs and implements the customer-facing elements of a website or web-based application. This means incorporating design briefs and user-experience (UX) research to create an easy-to-use, effective tool for any user. This position requires strong communication and design skills in addition to programming skills.Freelance, contract, and full-time salaried positions are available for front-end development, but work-from-home options can offer more flexibility. As web-based programming typically doesn't require any hardware more specialized than a personal computer, work from home is possible.
Full-Stack Web Developer
Being a full-stack web developer means a person can develop both server and client software, making them the multitool of the technology world.
Not only do full-stack developers need a strong knowledge of front-end languages, but they also need to be able to write API code and server code for the back end. Because of this, full-stack developers often need to be familiar with a decently long list of programming languages.
Explore Web Development Careers
Technology Career Outlook
Most careers in technology require at least a bachelor's degree. Earning a four-year degree allows professionals to enter a competitive field and find a job that suits their interests.
Job outlook for careers with a technology degree depends on the field. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that software developers will experience 22% job growth between 2019 and 2029. The BLS projects 31% job growth for information security analysts during the same period. For reference, the average projected growth rate for all occupations from 2019-2029 is 4%.
Although most technology careers pay well, salaries vary depending on a worker's location, education, and experience. In 2019, the BLS reported median annual salaries for technology workers ranging from $54,760 for computer support specialists to $122,840 for computer and information research scientists.
What Skills Are Needed for High-Paying Tech Jobs?
While tech has been on a growth spurt for some time, the COVID-19 pandemic escalated the adoption of digital technologies. According to a McKinsey Global Survey, companies' digital or digitally enabled products accelerated by seven years due to the pandemic.
Machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and big data are just some of the many IT and technology buzzwords in 2022.
According to CompTIA, some of the most in-demand skills in 2022 include:
- Big Data
- Cloud Computing
- Cybersecurity Analytics
- Data Analytics
- Data Science
- Machine Learning
- Mobile Application Skills
- Penetration Testing
- Programming Language Skills
- Quality Assurance
- User Experience
Soft skills also play a significant role in getting you ready for higher-paying tech jobs. Soft skills are interpersonal skills and character traits essential to success at work, though not always easily learned. A few of these include strong communication skills, analytical thinking, perseverance, and attention to detail.
How to Start a Career in Technology
Most entry-level technology careers require at least a bachelor's degree. However, some jobs, such as web developer, only require an associate degree to get started. Pursuing a bachelor's degree in technology allows students to enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge needed to complete their jobs.
You should determine what area of technology interests you. From there, you can begin researching colleges and their respective technology programs. Most postsecondary institutions offer technology programs at different levels with several formats, including online and in-person classes.
You can always reach out to program advisors and admissions departments with questions about program specifics and admission requirements. You can also learn more about finding the right college by reading this guide.
In general, students can pursue four different degree types: associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctorate. Each degree offers a different level of difficulty and specialization. Students should choose the degree that best fits their career goals.
An associate degree in technology offers introductory classes in areas like scripting and operating systems. Students must usually complete 60 credits to graduate, which usually takes about two years. Most colleges provide associate programs online and in person.
Associate degrees do not allow for much specialization. Sample classes for an associate in information technology include the following:
- Computer operating systems
- Fundamentals of information technology
- Computer systems security
- Cross-platform technologies
- Project management
An associate degree in technology prepares graduates for two paths: continuing their education or entering the workforce.
Students who decide to continue their education can often transfer into a four-year program after completing their associate degree. Most colleges allow students to apply all 60 credits toward a bachelor's degree.
Graduates can also enter the workforce with an associate degree in technology, pursuing careers related to web development or computer and network technical support. In general, professionals with an associate degree earn lower salaries than their counterparts with a bachelor's degree in similar positions.
A bachelor's degree usually takes about four years to complete. However, students can graduate more quickly by enrolling in an accelerated program. Most bachelor's degrees require 120 credits.
Bachelor's degrees in technology build on the fundamentals of computer science and often allow students to choose a concentration, such as data analytics, software development, or project management. These concentrations help prepare students for specific careers after graduation.
Sample courses for a bachelor's in information technology include the following:
- Computing as a service
- IT operations and systems planning
- Web-oriented services
- Risk management and mitigation in systems design
- User-centered systems design and evaluation
After earning a bachelor's degree, some graduates opt to pursue a graduate degree. However, most careers in this field only require a bachelor's. As such, many students enter the workforce right after graduation.
Possible careers include the following:
Most colleges offer master's programs online, in person, or in a hybrid format. A master's degree in technology delves into advanced material. These programs accept students who already understand foundational material.
Students can complete a master's degree in 1-2 years, depending on the credit requirements and their enrollment status. Most master's programs require 36-54 credits.
Master's degrees in technology offer a high level of specialization, allowing students to pick a subject that applies directly to their career goals. Students can choose from concentrations like database design, software application development, information security, and healthcare informatics.
Master's programs focus exclusively on advanced, technical, and theoretical classes. Most master's programs also require a capstone project, which often involves original research and/or a thesis paper.
Sample courses include the following:
- Innovations in information technology
- Telecommunications and networking
- Object-oriented application development
- Technical communication
- Information technology projects and team management
This degree prepares students for management roles and careers such as computer and information research scientist. Workers who hold this degree also tend to earn higher salaries and qualify for career advancement sooner.
Doctoral degrees offer the highest level of complexity and depth of knowledge in a particular field. Most doctoral programs require 4-7 years and 60-120 credits to complete.
Doctoral programs require participants to complete in-depth, original research projects, culminating in a dissertation that students must defend before a panel of faculty members. Students typically work with a faculty advisor, who helps them with their research and guides them through their dissertation.
Sample courses for a doctoral degree in computer science include the following:
- Machine learning and data mining
- Artificial intelligence frontiers: technical, ethical, and societal
- Mathematical and computational biology
- Reasoning in probabilistic graphical models
- Neural networks and deep learning
This degree prepares students for advancement in any career that requires a bachelor's or master's degree. Graduates can use their doctorate to pursue managerial roles. They can also pursue careers as postsecondary teachers in their field.
Certifications and/or Licensure
Licensure and certification can help technology professionals advance their careers. Licensure is typically awarded by a governmental agency at the federal, state, or local level. However, few technology careers require licensure to practice.
Professionals usually earn certification through professional organizations. Many careers in technology encourage certification, which demonstrates expert knowledge and skills in a particular area. Certification often requires candidates to pass an initial exam, and credentials usually need to be renewed every few years.
For example, information security analysts should strongly consider earning certification. Information security professionals can pursue certification from the International Information System Security Certification Consortium. Workers can also pursue more specialized options, including the penetration testing certification offered by the Information Assurance Certification Review Board.
Be sure to research specific career expectations and/or speak with a career counselor to determine if earning certification or licensure can help you succeed in your target career.
Continuing education allows professionals to advance their careers or start a new career path. There are three main types of continuing education: earning a new degree, completing a certificate program, and taking continuing education units (CEUs).
Some professionals earn a second degree to advance their careers. For example, while most database administrators only need a bachelor's degree, earning a master's degree in this field can lead to promotions and higher salaries. Completing another degree can also help professionals change careers by providing new knowledge and skills.
Most colleges also offer subject-specific certificate programs, which usually take less than a year to complete. Professionals can also look into CEUs and online courses to stay current on new technologies and theories in their field. You can enroll in many of these classes online for free.
Professional organizations offer development opportunities for students and experienced workers alike. Technology professionals should consider joining groups like the Computing Technology Industry Association and the Information Systems Security Association.
Many professional organizations provide educational resources, online workshops, and additional tools for advancement. Professionals can also take advantage of networking opportunities like conferences to make connections with their peers and learn about new career opportunities.
Note that most professional organizations require membership for full access to their resources and events.
Tips for Getting a Job in Tech
Hiring norms for the tech industry are changing nearly as quickly as the industry itself. Everyone is looking to hire someone with tech skills, from the local construction company looking to build a new website to Meta trying to build the Metaverse.
It used to be quite difficult to get one of these jobs without at least a computer science degree. While that is still the case for a few of the more high-level tech jobs, a good coding portfolio can often speak louder than a degree for careers such as web or software development.
After deciding which career path you are most interested in, the most important thing is to ensure you are familiar with all the main tools and programming languages used in that role. If there are holes in your knowledge, enroll in a class or bootcamp. Lastly, start posting and networking on sites like GitHub or LinkedIn to get your name and work out there.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are career options for technology students?
Technology graduates can pursue careers in many industries, including law enforcement, government, and healthcare. You can find more information about careers with a technology degree here.
How do I start a career in technology?
Most technology careers require a bachelor's degree. You can begin by researching potential schools and technology programs through this guide.
What are the highest-paying jobs in technology?
The BLS reported that computer and information research scientists earned a median annual salary of $122,840 in 2019. In the same year, computer network architects earned a median annual salary of $112,690. However, a professional's salary outlook can vary based on their location, experience, and education.
Is a technology degree worth it?
Yes. In addition to being lucrative, technology careers are experiencing a high level of demand. For example, the BLS projects 15% job growth for computer and information research scientists and 31% job growth for information security analysts between 2019 and 2029.