Whether looking for their first job or considering a mid-career change, all job seekers share a common characteristic: the desire to work in a field that’s in hot demand—now and in the future. Although there are many careers in the technology sector that fit this description, we’ve highlighted five tech careers that are in demand today and offer opportunities for growth.
1. Software Developer
Software developers are in tremendous demand in many industries, so it’s not surprising that U.S. News & World Report designated their job the seventh best in America for 2013.
Reflecting trends in the marketplace, some niches of Web development—such as mobile computing and cloud computing—are growing especially fast. “Clearly, mobile development is one big area,” says Ed Mondek, a cloud technology specialist at Microsoft who is based in the Chicago area. “There has been very significant growth within cloud computing.” Someone who works in cloud computing might design the back end for a Website or create programs to mine “big data” in an industry such as healthcare.
Demand: There were 913,100 jobs in 2010.
Salary: Median pay for software developers in 2010 was $90,530 per year. Earnings ranged from $54,360 to more than $133,110 annually.
Projected growth: During the period from 2010 to 2020, software developer positions will grow an estimated 30% (270,900 new jobs).
Degree: A bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related discipline is typically required.
Skills needed: Software developers write computer programs that power everything from video games to accounting software, figuring out how to make sure each piece of the final program fits together. They may also recommend upgrades to a company’s software; maintain, test and improve it; and keep documentation records. Systems software developers help keep computers running smoothly by designing operating systems and user interfaces.
2. Database Administrator
U.S. News & World Report listed database administrator No. 6 among the best jobs for 2013. These folks are in an enviable position in the employment market. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are only 0.26 job seekers for every active job—putting those with the skills to maintain the software for a database in a strong position.
Demand: There were 110,800 jobs in 2010.
Degree: Employers usually require a bachelor’s degree in management information systems or a computer-related field.
Skills needed: Typically, database administrators need to know how to do data backup and maintain the integrity and security of digital information.
3. Web Developer
Skilled in designing and maintaining Websites, Web developers are needed by a myriad of companies and organizations. U.S. News & World Report considers Web development the ninth best job in the U.S.
Demand: There were 302,300 jobs for Web developers, information security analysts and computer network architects in 2010.
Projected growth through 2020: Positions for Web developers, information security analysts and computer network architects are projected to grow 22% from 2010 levels.
Degree: Web developers typically need a BA in computer science, programming or a similar area.
Skills needed: Web developers need the programming skills to create the underlying technology for a Website. They also need to know how to pinpoint and fix bugs, maintain and update a site, and test applications.
4. Computer Systems Analyst
Experts in this category help find the most efficient ways to manage their employer’s computer systems and procedures. U.S. News & World Report considers it the fourth hottest job of 2013.
Demand: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics counted 544,400 systems analyst jobs in 2010.
Salary: Pay varies by employer and industry, with median annual salaries ranging from $48,360 to more than $119,070. In May 2010 the median pay for systems analysts working in systems design and related fields was $80,830, compared with $79,540 for those in information-related fields, $78,650 for those in management, $77,890 for those in insurance and finance, and $70,430 for those in government.
Projected growth through 2020: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 22% increase in employment (120,400 jobs) for the 2010-2020 time period.
Degree: Systems analysts often have a degree in a computer-related field. In addition, many also take some business courses—perhaps even earning an M.B.A.—to help companies make better business decisions.
Skills needed: Systems analysts often need to know how to handle tasks like tailoring an existing computer system to an organization’s current needs, configuring hardware and software, installing and testing new computer systems, training co-workers on how to use a computer system and writing technology manuals.
5. Computer Programmer
This position ranked 13th on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best jobs in 2013. Although programmers face competition from their lower-paid counterparts overseas, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment growth in areas of the U.S. where wages and the cost of living fall below levels elsewhere in the country.
Demand: There were 363,100 jobs for computer programmers in 2010.
Salary: The median pay in 2010 was $71,380 per year.
Projected growth through 2020: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates 12% employment growth (43,700 jobs) in this field for the period extending from 2010 to 2020.
Degree: This job generally calls for a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a similar field.
Skills needed: Computer programmers need to know how to write the code for software programs. They must be capable of translating software developers’ and engineers’ programs into rules that a computer can follow.