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What Type of IT Career Makes the Most Money?

Information technology careers run the gamut from computer support personnel on a health desk to scientists inventing new technology. Education requirements, job descriptions, demand and pay also vary considerably. When it comes to salaries, however, a few occupations dominate the top end.

The Development End

Software developers fall into two basic categories: those who develop applications for specific tasks and those who create the underlying systems to control networks or operate various electronic devices. Most developers work for computer systems design firms or software publishers. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment is projected to grow 22 percent from 2012 to 2022, or about twice the national average for all jobs. Applications software developers earned an average annual salary of $96,260 in 2013. Systems software developers averaged $104,480.

Building the Network

Computer network architects design and construct data communication networks. These can include local area and wide area networks, as well as the intranets that serve a business or group of businesses. Some network architects might have global responsibilities if companies have offices or operations in multiple places throughout the world. A bachelor’s degree and experience in the field are required, according to the BLS. The expansion of wireless and mobile networks is expected to increase demand for computer network architects. The BLS expects employment growth of 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, above the average for all occupations. The average annual salary for this occupation was $97,700 in 2013, according to the BLS.

Working in the Research Laboratory

Computer and information research scientists study complex computing problems and design new technology. They might also develop new or more innovative uses for existing technology to meet the needs of business, medicine and science. Although some computer scientists who work for the federal government might find a job with a bachelor’s degree, the BLS notes that a Ph.D. in computer science or a related field is likely to be required in other organizations. The BLS projects jobs in this field will grow 15 percent from 2012 to 2022. Computer and information scientists earned an average of $109,260 yearly in 2013.

Hybrid IT Careers

Nursing informaticists and chief medical information officers combine their clinical expertise with the development and improvement of clinical information systems such as electronic medical records. They are dually-trained, typically with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s in information science for the nurse, and an M.D. or D.O. plus a master’s degree in information science for the physician. Nurse informaticists who worked for consulting firms average $141,432 a year as of 2014, according to the Health Information Management Systems Society's "2014 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey." A January 2012 article in “Clinical Innovations+Technology” reports 60 percent of CMIOs earned annual salaries of $200,000 to $400,000 in 2012, making them the highest-paid occupation in the group.



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