By Allen Graves
Are jobs and salaries in the technology industry trending upward? Here are the latest statistics just in from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Variances in salary, job outlook and educational requirements affect professionals across all industries, perhaps none more so than computer technology, itself a continually evolving field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has recently released updated data about some of the most prominent tech careers. The new data is critical for anyone pursuing or advancing a career in the following professions.
Network and Computer Systems Administrators
The 2014 median annual salary for network and computer systems administrators, as reported by BLS, was $75,790, just under the median wage for all computer-related occupations. The most lucrative positions were found within the information industry, followed closely by computer systems design and related services.
From 2014 to 2024, the employment rate for network and computer systems administrators is expected to grow 8%. Job growth in the field is expected to hold steady just above the national average of 7% across all occupations. BLS attributes the growth rate to cloud-computing’s ability to enhance the productivity of individual network and computer systems administrators.
While more than 30,000 new jobs will be added to the field over the next full decade, BLS estimates, job prospects will be most favorable for network and computer systems administrators in the computer systems design and related services industries.
Bachelor’s degrees in computer and information science are the norm for network and computer systems administrators, although the degree of interaction with hardware means some employers might consider applicants with degrees in electrical or computer engineering.
On occasion, network and computer systems administrators will be considered with just a postsecondary certificate in the product they use. Vendor-neutral certificates are also available, as are various IT Security certificates, while many companies offer vendor-specific certificates. Network technologies change so rapidly that many network and computer systems administrators take advantage of continuing educational opportunities to keep up.
Information Security Analyst
As of 2014, BLS estimates the annual median salary for information security analysts to be $88,890 per year, well over twice the national median wage across all industries, with information security analysts in the management, scientific and technical consulting services industry earning the most.
BLS predicts an 18% growth in employment opportunities for information security analysts in the U.S. from 2014 to 2024, more than double the anticipated 7% growth rate across all occupations. This accelerated growth would bring the total number of employment opportunities for information security analysts from 82,900 in 2014 to 97,700 in 2024.
Typically, employers expect prospective information security analysts to have a computer-related bachelor’s degree, at minimum; most employers also expect candidates to have prior experience in a related occupation, such as network or systems administrator.
Some employers show preference to MBA’s specializing in information systems. General security certifications, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), as well as more specialized information security certifications in skills like systems auditing, may also lend a competitive edge.
Computer Systems Analysts
Like their counterparts in information security, computer systems analysts earn well above the national median wage, bringing home a median salary of $82,710 per year in 2014, according to BLS. Computer systems analysts in the computer systems design and related services industries earned the most, while those in state and local government, excluding education and hospitals, netted the least.
Employment opportunities for computer systems analysts from 2014 to 2024 is expected to be robust. BLS expects about 118,600 new jobs to be added, for a total occupational growth rate of 21%. By these predictions, almost 690,000 computer systems analysts would be working in the U.S. in 2024.
As in most computer tech professions, computer systems analysts are expected to hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field, although BLS stipulates that some employers will hire CSA’s with liberal arts or business degrees, as long as applicants demonstrate competency in IT or programming.
In general, applicants with experience or coursework in business are preferred, given the role’s degree of involvement in business operations. A master’s degree in business administration or, for more technical positions, computer science, is also an asset. Computer systems analysts often seek ongoing educational opportunities to stay apprised of innovations in the field. Many will also seek certificates in fields such as project management and business process improvement.
Computer and Information Systems Managers
In 2014, computer and information systems managers, or IT managers and project managers, netted a median annual wage of $127,640, which is more than three times the median across all occupations, per the most recent BLS data. Even the lowest earners, or those who earned less than $78,470 annually, experienced healthy wages. Computer and information systems managers in the highest 10% of earners took home more than $187,200 a year.
Demand for IT managers and project managers is also expected to be high. BLS anticipates a 15% growth rate, more than double the national average, from 2014 to 2024. By the end of that decade, more than 402,000 computer and information systems managers would be employed in the U.S. Job growth for IT managers should be especially strong in the retail trade and healthcare industries.
Educational requirements for computer and information systems managers correspond with the occupation’s pay grade. Many employers prefer IT managers to have graduate degrees, in addition to 4-year degrees in computer science, information science or a related field. MBA’s are not unusual among IT managers.
Further, given the need for computer and information systems managers in all sectors of the U.S. economy, employers expect potential IT managers to have relevant industry experience. BLS notes, however, that newer or smaller companies may be more likely to hire candidates with fewer years’ of industry experience.
Allen Graves writes about technology and business process improvement on behalf of Villanova University’s 100% online degree and certificate programs.