When it comes to the workplace economy, information technology is one of the highest-paying sectors, so it makes sense to consider a career in IT if you’re someone who is interested in tech. Now, IT has a lot of branches, so we decided to break up our list of top IT career paths into two articles.
This post will focus on IT career paths in Web Development, Cloud Computing, and Data, to help you familiarize yourself with each one of the top jobs within these fields.
If you are more interested in IT Support and Technical Services, IT Systems and Networks, Software Development, or Cybersecurity click here to read part two of our articles focusing on IT career paths.
Without further ado, let’s dig in!
IT Career Path #1 – Web Development
If programming is your passion, and you’d like to work on websites, then working in Web Development is probably the best career path in IT for you.
Web Development generally refers to all IT careers associated with building, maintaining, and managing websites. This includes web application development, content development, web design, scripting, network security configuration, and much more. All of this is done to ensure that the website’s performance and user experience are the best they can be. If this sounds interesting to you, browse these top IT career paths in Web Development.
While working in Web Development typically requires you to have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in one of the following fields:
- Web Design
- Computer Graphics
- Computer Science
- Computer Engineering
- Network Technologies
- Any similar/related field
However, this is not always the case. In fact, according to Stack Overflow’s 2021 Developer Survey of over 80,000 developers, about a quarter of respondents do not have a bachelor’s degree.
Web Designers, as the name suggests, plan, design, and code websites and web pages. This includes everything from creating a layout of a page or site to building specific features that will appeal to the target audience of the website.
Web Designers need to be both creative and analytical in their work. They also need to have design knowledge in order to be successful, so visual design is one of the most important skills they need to master. In addition to creating visually appealing site mockups, they also need to have a great understanding of the user experience, so that everything they design is user-friendly first and foremost.
Salary Range: $39K-$88K per year
National Salary Average: $58,517 per year
In the shortest terms, Web Developers build and maintain websites. However, they also analyze a website’s structure to ensure that the existing structure, content, and graphics are user-friendly and meet the business’ goals.
Web Developers spend their time programming code to create or modify a website and its structure. They typically specialize in either Front-End or Back-End development, but they might also be professionals who are experts in both, like Full-Stack Developers. We will address these IT career paths separately below.
Many developers are self-taught or have participated in intensive coding boot camp programs, and thus have a strong command of programming languages like HTML or XML.
Salary Range: $45K-$110K per year
National Salary Average: $70,863 per year
Front-End Developers are responsible for creating those parts of a website or application that are visible to users. They often work with Web Designers to transform their web page designs into a fully functioning page or website.
Salary Range: $52K-$147K per year
National Salary Average: $87,240 per year
Front-End Engineers are tasked with similar things Front-End Developers do, but their work with code goes into more detail. They not only write code, but they know the ins and outs of it and program with a clear strategy in mind. They are able to evaluate and explain already existing code and are commonly also the ones tasked with finding and fixing coding issues.
While Front-End Developers use tools, plugins, frameworks, patterns, utilities, and methodologies in their work, Front-End Engineers are the ones who create them. They have a much deeper understanding of the code.
National Salary Average: $125,501 per year
Senior Front-End Engineer National Salary Average: $134,159 per year
Back-End Developers work on systems and structures that are not visible to a user, but allow a website to function as intended. In order to do this, they need to have great logical thinking and problem-solving skills along with a range of technical skills and knowledge. This includes proficiency in a range of programming languages like SQL, Ruby, and Python.
Salary Range: $73K-$217K per year
National Salary Average: $125,924 per year
Just like Front-End Developers and Engineers, Back-End Developers and Engineers share many of the same responsibilities. Back-End Engineers are responsible for building the entire system or structure of software applications. They do this by writing server scripts, APIs, and business logic that will later be used by Designers and Front-End Engineers to implement the design on the website.
Salary Range: $75K-$161K per year
National Salary Average: $109,589 per year
Full-Stack Developers utilize many different technologies to build web and software applications. Full-Stack Developers have a wide variety of coding skills, along with a thorough understanding of the subject matter.
Many acquire the knowledge necessary to become Full-Stack Developers outside of the traditional academic setting. In fact, an IT career path as a Full-Stack Developer entails constant learning and development, even on the job.
Salary Range: $62K-159K per year
National Salary Average: $99,274 per year
Full-Stack Engineers are expert computer programmers in both front and back-end systems coding. They are highly versed in many programming languages. In addition to this, they also showcase excellent systems administration skills and have substantial experience in managing projects.
The salary range for Full-Stack Engineers in the U.S. is between $69K-$156K a year for those with 2-4 years of experience.
Salary Range: $69K-$156K per year
National Salary Average: $103,842 per year
IT Career Path #2 – Data
An IT career path in Data is most appealing to those who get a kick out of interpreting and making sense of large bodies of data. When you work in data, you do this with the aim of improving the business.
This is a job where you will work with all sorts of company data. This is done by either building secure databases that store information or spending time analyzing and interpreting large datasets in order to uncover insights that could be beneficial for improving business performance.
It is the perfect career path in IT if you are also passionate about mathematics, statistics, and programming. The various roles in Data give you the chance to get right in the middle of large bodies of information, while also focusing on what you love to do most, be it programming, analytics, or something else.
An IT career in Data means that you will likely need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in one of the following fields:
- Computer Engineering
- Computer Science
- Information Science
- Applied Mathematics
Database Administrators will most likely also need to obtain a master’s degree in information technology or database information.
Data Center Technician
Data Center Technicians ensure that all data servers and hardware networks operate smoothly and the information within them stays protected. They also maintain network devices and all equipment to preserve an optimal working environment for the devices and servers. In case any issues arise, Data Center Technicians are the ones who fix them, so they need to have substantial tech support experience.
Salary Range: $36K-$82K per year
National Salary Average: $54,273 per year
In the simplest terms possible, Data Analysts work with – you guessed it – data, in order to help a company or organization make better business decisions. Data Analysts are well-versed in a number of technical skills, including programming, statistical analysis, and mathematics. They examine data and translate their findings into actionable solutions to improve business performance. Data Analysts are an integral part of any analytics team.
Salary Range: $46K-$106K per year
National Salary Average: $69,517 per year
Database Administrators maintain an organization’s databases and ensure that they are secure, searchable, and run efficiently. They, together with Data Architects, build and organize systems that securely store a company’s data, and then maintain these systems. Database Administrators are also responsible for authorization and making the data available to authorized users.
Typical employers of Database Administrators are institutions and organizations that store large amounts of information, such as universities and academic institutions, IT companies, and hospitals, among others.
Salary Range: $60K-$117K per year
National Salary Average: $83,700 per year
The main job of Data Engineers is to create systems that gather, handle and transform raw business data into a more comprehensible and analyzable format. This converted data is then used and interpreted by Business Analysts and Data Scientists.
In order to begin your IT career path in Data Engineering, you will need to acquire data engineering certifications, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Data Analytics, Google Professional Data Engineer, and IBM Certified Data Engineer.
In addition to formal education and certifications, Data Engineers require a wide range of technical competencies along with excellent problem-solving skills.
Salary Range: $76K-$166K per year
National Salary Average: $112,493 per year
Data Scientists mine, analyze, and interpret large data sets, such as clickstreams, GPS plots, or customer transactions of a business in order to gain valuable insights and develop solutions that will contribute to business growth.
If you’re thinking about becoming a Data Scientist, we are here to encourage you. Not only is there a growing demand for Data Scientists in the U.S., but this IT career path was also ranked as the “Best Job in America” by Glassdoor when considering career opportunities, salaries earned by Data Scientists, and job vacancies for the job. It is definitely a career path in IT that’s worth checking out.
Those working in Data Science must be competent in several coding languages, such as C, C++, and Java, statistics and machine learning, as well as databases and reporting technologies.
Salary Range: $82K-$167K per year
National Salary Average: $117,212 per year
If your IT career path leads you to become a Database Architect, your role within a company will be to build, optimize and maintain the company’s conceptual and logical data systems. The key responsibilities of a Database Architect include evaluating database requirements, developing database solutions, and preparing architect reports.
This role will also require you to monitor the system and supervise any system migrations. Data Architects work closely with Software Engineers and data analysts. They also play a part in growing the company by helping in the expansion to other markets.
Data Architects typically have about 5 years of relevant work experience and a strong command of database structure systems and data mining.
Salary Range: $83K-$169K per year
National Salary Average: $118,868 per year
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IT Career Path #3 – Cloud Computing
Finally, you can consider Cloud Computing as a career path in IT. To put it in the simplest of terms, cloud computing is the on-demand availability and delivery of computing services, such as databases, data storage, servers, networking, software, and more, over the Internet or “the Cloud”, to provide businesses with access to the resources and tools they need to operate and grow their business.
An IT career path in Cloud Computing means that you will need to become fluent in several programming languages, such as Java and C++, as well as obtain a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology, Computer Science, or a related field.
Cloud Engineers are masters of cloud computing applications meant for companies and organizations. They do everything from designing and creating the application itself, to testing, implementation, management, and maintenance.
They explore and evaluate options and find optimal solutions for moving to the cloud system, in addition to overseeing a business’ transition, or migration to the cloud.
Besides the technical skills required, Cloud Engineers also need solid management skills as they have to negotiate with vendors and coordinate and collaborate with various teams to ensure a smooth cloud migration process.
Salary Range: $73K-$169K per year
National Salary Average: $111,165 per year
The main focus of Cloud Architects is on constructing cloud infrastructure. What this means is that architects work on properly configuring all security, computing, and networking services within the cloud environment.
They must have a great understanding of the business and its cloud service requirements. Cloud Architects have to make sure that the users have access to the right resources and services that they require based on their role in the company to avoid unnecessary costs of services that are not being used.
Salary Range: $95K-$198K per year
National Salary Average: $137,265 per year
As you advance in your IT career, you can become a Cloud Consultant. The role of a Cloud Consultant, in addition to all the technical and managerial skills that Cloud Engineers, Architects, and Specialists have, is to work with clients and provide cloud support for their organization, as well as find an optimal solution for cloud services and execute a cloud migration.
Salary Range: $66K-$153K per year
National Salary Average: $100,245 per year
As you can see, there are a huge variety of jobs in the IT sector, even within specializations. If you are still wondering “Is technology a good career path and is IT worth exploring?” The answer is yes, the IT sector continues to grow and dominate the job market with its high salary average.
It is definitely a career path worth exploring if you love tech and tinkering. Decide which IT career path excites you the most, what skills you’d love to learn, and what you would specifically find intriguing to work with on a daily basis.
Starting on one career path in IT does not mean that you will be stuck in it forever. There is plenty of opportunity for growth, as well as changing specializations. Many IT jobs have overlapping skill sets, so you will most likely never have to start from zero in case you want to try something new.
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