The information technology (IT) industry is bursting with opportunities thanks to our technology-driven society. Companies are embracing technology to keep their businesses thriving, which means the IT world is adding new job titles and career opportunities almost constantly.
They aren’t all entry-level positions either. While there are plenty of job options available to get you started on your IT journey, there are plenty of exciting opportunities as you continue on your career path.
“IT is an excellent field for advancement,” says Nick Espinosa, CIO of BSSi2. An entry-level IT employee who works to broaden his or her skills and shows leadership initiative may find many advancement opportunities on their career path.
If you are looking to start a career track that has plenty of room for promotion and growth, give some thought to these top IT jobs for every experience level. Take a minute to learn about the duties, education and earning potential associated with each.*
Top entry-level IT jobs (0-2 years of experience)
1. Computer support specialist
- Career outlook (2014 – 2024): 12% (faster than average)
- Median annual salary: $50,380
- Most common degree: Associate degree in information technology
Aspiring computer support specialists should be prepared for plenty of problem solving. Computer support specialists evaluate existing network systems, perform regular maintenance/updates, and troubleshoot local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs) and Internet systems. Many computer support specialists work in their organization’s IT department and keep the technology running smoothly.
2. Network administrator
- Career outlook (2014 – 2024): 8% (as fast as average)
- Median annual salary: $75,790
- Most common degree: Associate degree in network administration
Network administrators handle the day-to-day operations of computer networks. They determine what the organization needs in a network and computer system and install all network hardware and software, all while maintaining system security and efficiency. This position often calls for a bit of training, as network administrators need to be prepared to keep up with changing technology.
3. Web developer
- Career outlook (2014 – 2024): 27% (much faster than average)
- Median annual salary: $63,490
- Most common degree: Associate degree in web programming
Web developers are responsible for designing the look and feel of a website. This includes the design features along with the technical aspects, such as its overall performance and capacity. They must be able to work in solitude while writing code and building the site. On the other hand, they often work alongside other team members in order to ensure everyone’s needs are being met with the website, meaning they must also have good interpersonal skills.
Top mid-level IT jobs (3-8 years of experience)
1. Systems analyst
- Career outlook (2014 – 2024): 21% (much faster than average)
- Median annual salary: $82,710
This position favors applicants with business experience. Systems analysts consult with managers to determine the role of the IT system in an organization. They also research emerging technologies, prepare cost and benefit analyses and design new systems for their organization.
2. Database Administrator
- Career outlook (2014 – 2024): 11% (faster than average)
- Median annual salary: $80,280 per year
- Most common degree: Bachelor’s degree in computer science
Database administrators (DBAs) maintain, protect and improve an organization’s database. Security and preservation are high priorities since many databases contain sensitive personal or financial information. DBAs routinely backup and restore data against power outages or other disasters and put security measures in place to protect against unauthorized access. They may also work with management to understand the company’s data needs and plan the goals of the database.
3. Network Architect
- Career outlook (2014 – 2024): 9% (faster than average)
- Median annual salary: $98,430
- Most common degree: Bachelor’s degree in computer science
Network architects design and build data communication networks. The size of the network could be anything from connecting two offices together to linking multinational systems. Network architects create a plan for the data communication network they are designing and present that plan to management. A thorough understanding of the organization and its goals is essential.
Top senior-level IT jobs (9+ years of experience)
1. Information security analyst
- Career outlook (2014 – 2024): 18% (much faster than average)
- Median annual salary: $88,890
- Most common degree: Bachelor’s degree in information security
With the number of cyberattacks increasing, it’s no wonder there is a high demand for these professionals. Information security analysts are in charge of planning and implementing security measures to protect a company’s computer network and systems. They install software to protect sensitive data, investigate security breaches when they occur and simulate attacks on the system to identify vulnerabilities. They’re also responsible for developing security standards for the entire organization and recommending enhancements to executive staff.
2. Information technology (IT) project manager
- Career outlook (2014 – 2024): 15% (much faster than average)
- Median annual salary: $127,640
- Most common degree: Bachelor's degree in computer science
IT project managers plan and manage computer-related activities in an organization. Tasks typically involve assessing an organization’s computer needs and advising senior executives regarding technology decisions. This position is often the bridge between the IT department and the business minds of a company. These professionals must employ fantastic communication skills as they present project proposals and updates to upper management. They must also plan ahead for technology adjustments that will benefit the organization and direct the work of other IT professionals to meet those goals.
3. Chief Information Officer (CIO)
- Career outlook (2014 – 2024): 6% (as fast as average)
- Median annual salary: $102,750
- Most common degree: Master’s degree
Chief information officers manage the overall technology strategy of their organizations. They determine their company’s technology or information goals on a holistic level, and oversee all operational activities to ensure goals are being met. They’re responsible for analyzing performance indicators, appointing department heads and managers and consulting with other executives, staff and board members. They must also plan and maintain the financial activities of their entire department and identify areas to cut costs and improve performance.
How to climb the IT corporate ladder
Now you know which advancement opportunities may come your way in these top IT jobs—but how can you position yourself to climb the corporate ladder?
“The key to advancement in IT is not being narrow in your IT focus,” says Beecher Bowers, owner of Shenandoah Websites. Bowers suggests gaining a foundational understanding of how computers interact with one another and how to perform simple repairs. “If you can master the basics in these areas you will always have a step up.”
"The key to advancement in IT is not being narrow in your IT focus."
You might assume all employers care about is the technical skills, but that’s just not the case. Strong communication skills are just as critical and are a reliable foundation for advancement, according to Espinosa.
“Most IT companies are not just looking for individuals who excel in the technical field. They’re looking for open and honest personalities,” says Espinosa. He strongly recommends adding non-technology variables to your education. Taking a few business classes is a great way to demonstrate that you are a good candidate for promotion.
The IT industry offers plenty of opportunity to advance both your job title and salary, but they key for both is acquiring the proper training and experience. Bowers says you shouldn’t be afraid to start at the beginning. “Entry-level jobs are nothing to shy away from. You will learn the knowledge you'll need for later in your career,” he adds.
Start paving your IT career path
Even at the entry level, a top IT job will likely require some education and training. If one of the top IT jobs listed has caught your interest, learn about the technology degrees that could help put your resume on the top of the pile.
*Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.