The field of information technology, commonly called IT, has spawned a number of career paths for those with a good technical aptitude and a willingness to learn. IT jobs are frequently available even during otherwise slow employment periods, and the salaries are usually higher than other jobs. Most IT jobs require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information technology, but there are some exceptions.
Help Desk Support
Help desk technicians may have differing titles from one company to another, such as computer support specialist or computer technician, but the job is typically the same regardless of the title. These are the people on the front lines of computer support, helping users with hardware problems and desk-side software training. The position does not typically require a four-year degree, but the higher the education level, the more attractive the candidate. Some companies may require certifications in software and hardware. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary as of 2010 was $46,260.
Computer programmers write the instructions that make computers do what they are supposed to do, when they are supposed to do it. They receive business specifications from business analysts and design programs to conform to the requirements. Programmers write applications such as word processors and presentation programs. Programmers with the highest technical aptitudes may write operating system code or special utilities such as disk recovery programs. According to the BLS, the median salary as of 2010 was $71,380.
Systems analysts are responsible for analyzing a company’s technology needs and finding solutions to business problems that give the company a competitive edge. They analyze the company’s current technology position and its goals, research existing and evolving technology and find technology solutions that advance the company’s position. The median systems analyst salary as of 2010 was $77,740, according to the BLS, and the expected job growth through 2020 is about 22 percent, higher than the average for all occupations.
Database administrators manage the volumes of data owned by companies large and small. They are responsible for organizing, maintaining and protecting the data from unauthorized access. Another aspect of the DBA’s job is performance, and they must ensure that the database is responding at peak efficiency to maximize user productivity. DBAs are also responsible for making sure the databases are backed up periodically and that they can be recovered should a catastrophe occur. The BLS reports the 2010 median DBA salary as $73,490.
Network administrators design, implement and manage the infrastructure that connects an organization’s computing devices. Network administrators add and delete users, monitor network performance and solve various network problems. Most companies require a bachelor’s degree for a network administrator position, and some require industry certifications. The median pay as of 2010 was $69,160, according to the BLS.
2016 Salary Information for Computer Systems Analysts
Computer systems analysts earned a median annual salary of $87,220 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, computer systems analysts earned a 25th percentile salary of $67,460, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $111,040, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 600,500 people were employed in the U.S. as computer systems analysts.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Computer Systems Analysts
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Computer and Information Technology Occupations
- Business Management Daily: Information Technology Job Descriptions
- Robert Half: Glossary of Job Descriptions for Information Technology
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Computer Systems Analysts
- Career Trend: Computer Systems Analysts
Alan Hughes has more than 30 years of experience in IT including mainframes, programming, client/server, networks, project management, security, disaster recovery, information systems and hardware. He holds a master's degree in applied computer science and several certifications. He currently teaches information technology at the university level.