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5 types of IT careers & how to choose one

Explore IT careers, and jobs that are hiring. Find your next career in the growing field of IT today!

If you’re looking for an intellectually stimulating and financially rewarding career, look no further than information technology (IT). From safeguarding digital fortresses to unraveling the mysteries of big data, there's an IT career job description out there that perfectly fits your skills and passions.

Here are the top 5 types of IT careers to consider:

1. Cyber security

Cybersecurity is a realm of IT security that protects digital systems, networks, and data from unauthorized access, breaches, and cyber threats. These professionals play a crucial role in safeguarding sensitive information, preventing cyber attacks, and ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of information systems.

Ideal for:

  • Individuals with a strong interest in technology and a passion for problem-solving
  • Those who possess analytical thinking skills and can anticipate potential risks and vulnerabilities
  • Detail-oriented individuals who can work well under pressure and adhere to strict security protocols

Top employers:

  • IBM Security
  • Cisco Systems
  • Palo Alto Networks
  • Symantec

Top cyber security jobs

Information security analyst

  • Job duties: Monitoring and analyzing an organization's computer networks and systems to detect and prevent security breaches
  • Average salary: $88,735 per year

Ethical hacker/Penetration tester

  • Job duties: Simulating cyber attacks to identify vulnerabilities in computer systems, networks, and applications
  • Average salary: $105,331 per year

Security architect

  • Job duties: Developing and designing comprehensive security frameworks and strategies for organizations
  • Average salary: $130,125 per year
A female IT professional

2. Software development

Software development involves designing, coding, testing, and maintaining computer software applications. It encompasses various stages of the software development lifecycle, including requirements gathering, system design, implementation, and ongoing maintenance.

Software development offers diverse career paths, including front-end, back-end, full-stack, and mobile app development. Developers often specialize in specific programming languages or technologies such as Python, Java, JavaScript, or .NET.

Continuous learning and staying updated with industry trends and emerging technologies are crucial for success in this field. Collaboration, problem-solving skills, and the ability to work well in agile development environments are also helpful.

Ideal for:

  • People with a strong aptitude for logical thinking, problem-solving, and attention to detail
  • Those who enjoy working with technology, writing code, and finding creative solutions
  • Team players who can collaborate effectively with other developers, designers, and stakeholders

Top employers:

  • Microsoft
  • Google
  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • IBM

Top software development jobs

Full-stack developer

  • Job duties: Front-end and back-end application development, working on all layers of software applications, designing user interfaces, and implementing database structures
  • Average salary: $101,581 per year

Mobile app developer

  • Job duties: Creating applications for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets
  • Average salary: $101,854 per year

DevOps engineer

  • Job duties: Bridging the gap between software development and operations by automating and streamlining the software delivery process
  • Average salary: $128,464 per year

Front-end web developer

  • Job duties: Creating and implementing user interfaces (UI) for web applications; working with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to build visually appealing and responsive interfaces that provide a seamless user experience
  • Average salary: $87,785 per year

3. IT infrastructure

IT infrastructure refers to the underlying hardware, software, networks, and systems that support and enable an organization's IT operations. IT infrastructure professionals are responsible for designing, implementing, and managing these foundational IT resources to ensure the smooth operation and reliability of an organization's technology infrastructure.

IT infrastructure professionals are critical in planning, deploying, and maintaining the hardware and software resources required for an organization's IT operations. This focus area includes specialties such as network administration, system administration, cloud infrastructure management, data center management, and IT operations management. Skills in virtualization, cloud computing, network security, and automation are highly valuable here.

Ideal for:

  • People with a strong understanding of computer systems, networks, and IT infrastructure components
  • Those who enjoy working with hardware, software, and configuring complex systems

Top employers:

  • Cisco Systems
  • Microsoft
  • IBM

Top IT infrastructure jobs

Network administrator

  • Job duties: Managing and maintaining an organization's computer networks and troubleshooting network issues with developers and end users
  • Average salary: $84,913 per year

Systems administrator

  • Job duties: Overseeing the installation, configuration, and maintenance of an organization's computer systems and servers
  • Average salary: $69,906 per year

Cloud architect

  • Job duties: Designing and implementing cloud computing solutions for organizations; providing guidance on cloud best practices, cost optimization, and integration with existing systems
  • Average salary: $140,940 per year

Data center manager

  • Job duties: Overseeing data center operations, including managing servers, storage systems, networking equipment, and infrastructure
  • Average salary: $147,192 per year
A data center manager

4. IT support

IT support, also known as helpdesk or technical support, involves assisting with and resolving technical issues related to computer systems, software applications, networks, and other IT infrastructure components. IT support professionals play a crucial role in troubleshooting problems for end users.

In this role, you may specialize in areas like desktop support, network support, software support, or customer support. These professionals assist with troubleshooting hardware and software issues, configuring systems, resolving network connectivity problems, and providing guidance on software applications. They must stay updated with the latest technologies and possess a strong knowledge base to assist users effectively.

Ideal for:

  • People with strong problem-solving skills and a patient, customer-oriented attitude
  • Those who enjoy working with people, assisting them with technical issues, and providing solutions
  • Individuals with good communication skills (essential for effectively understanding and conveying technical information to non-technical users)

Top employers:

  • Microsoft
  • Apple
  • Dell Technologies

Top IT support jobs

Help desk technician

  • Job duties: Giving technical assistance and support to end users, either remotely or in person
  • Average salary: $48,006 per year

Desktop support specialist

  • Job duties: Providing technical support and troubleshooting for desktop computers, laptops, and related peripherals
  • Average salary: $46,820 per year

IT support specialist

  • Job duties: Providing technical assistance and support to end users within an organization; troubleshooting hardware and software issues
  • Average salary: $56,775 per year

5. Data management

Full-time data management in IT involves the processes, technologies, and strategies used to acquire, organize, store, secure, and analyze data within an organization. They work with databases, data warehouses, data governance frameworks, and data quality tools to manage and optimize data assets.

Data management is crucial in enabling organizations to make informed decisions, improve operational efficiency, and gain insights from their data assets. As such, these professionals may specialize in data analysis, database administration, data governance, data architecture, data integration, or related fields. They work with structured and unstructured data, ensuring its accuracy, security, and availability for various stakeholders. Skills in data modeling, structured query language (SQL), data visualization, and data governance frameworks are highly valued here.

Ideal for:

  • Individuals with a strong interest in data, analytics, quality assurance, and information management
  • Those who enjoy working with databases, data modeling, and data manipulation
  • Detail-oriented people who can ensure data integrity, privacy, and compliance

Top employers:

  • Oracle
  • IBM
  • Microsoft

Top data management jobs

Data analyst

  • Job duties: Gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data to identify patterns, trends, and insights that drive business decisions; cleaning and transforming data; performing statistical analysis; creating data visualizations; and presenting findings to stakeholders
  • Average salary: $82,818

Database administrator

  • Job duties: Designing, implementing, and maintaining an organization's databases; ensuring data integrity, security, and availability; optimizing database performance; handling backups and recovery; and troubleshooting database-related issues
  • Average salary: $98,377

Data architect

  • Job duties: Designing and developing the structure and organization of databases and data systems, analyzing data requirements, creating data models, defining data standards, designing data integration processes, and collaborating with other teams to ensure data consistency and quality
  • Average salary: $127,697

Data governance manager

  • Job duties: Establishing and enforcing policies, procedures, and standards for managing and protecting data assets within an organization; defining data governance frameworks, overseeing data quality initiatives, ensuring compliance with regulations, and collaborating with stakeholders to align data practices with business objectives
  • Average salary: $114,552

How to choose the best IT career for you

Considering your interests, skills, education, and experience can provide valuable insights and help you make informed decisions about choosing the best IT career path. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

What are your interests?

Are you the type of person to click through every page of a new website, tool, or program? Do you have a penchant for finding bugs in software? If you’re the patient type that likes helping end users, IT helpdesk roles might suit you. If you’re someone who loves analyzing data and defining company-wide standards, you might search for positions like a computer systems analyst or network engineer. The key is to reflect on specific areas of technology that spark your curiosity.

What are your skills?

Consider your proficiency in programming languages, database management, network administration, cybersecurity, cloud computing, or specific software applications. Assess your math and analytical abilities, as these are highly valuable in many IT roles (such as data analytics, machine learning, and algorithm development).

On the other hand, your ability to convey technical concepts in a clear and concise manner and your capacity to work well with others are highly valued skills in IT project management, consulting, and client-facing roles. The IT field evolves rapidly; adaptability and openness to continuous learning is necessary.

What education do you have?

It's important to assess both your formal education, such as an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree, and any IT certifications you have (or want to obtain). These educational credentials can shape your IT career in different ways.

A formal education (such as a college degree) in a field like computer science, information technology, or software engineering can give you a strong foundation in IT concepts and principles. It also demonstrates your commitment to academic learning and can serve as a valuable qualification when applying for entry-level IT positions.

However, IT certifications can look just as good on a resume. They’re especially important in the IT field, as they allow you to specialize in specific technologies or roles. For example, Microsoft certifications, Cisco certifications, or coding certifications like CompTIA A+, Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), or AWS Certified Developer can enhance your credibility and marketability in those respective areas.

While formal education and certifications can enhance your qualifications, they are not the only keys to a successful IT career. Practical experience, hands-on projects, and continuous learning through self-study and professional development also play vital roles in helping you land an information technology job.

What experience do you have?

Even if you don't have direct IT experience, certain aspects of your previous roles can highlight transferable skills and demonstrate your potential for success in IT jobs. Reflect on the following:

  • Have you worked on any technology-related projects? These could include tasks like implementing software solutions, managing databases, troubleshooting technical issues, or coordinating IT security protocols.
  • Have you supported or trained others on technology tools or systems? This could involve assisting with software installations, troubleshooting common issues, or conducting training sessions.
  • Have you demonstrated problem-solving or analytical skills? Think about situations where you have overcome challenges or improved processes. These experiences can highlight your critical thinking abilities, which are highly valuable in many IT roles (e.g., data analysis, systems administration, or software development).
  • Have you pursued any IT-related side projects or self-learning initiatives? These could include building websites, developing mobile apps, participating in open-source projects, or acquiring IT certifications through self-study.

What are the best-paid IT jobs?

Let’s get down to business: what are the most lucrative fields to consider? Here are some of the highest-paid IT jobs, their salary ranges, and basic job information:

  • Data scientists analyze complex data sets to identify trends, patterns, and insights. They develop statistical models and algorithms to solve business problems and drive data-driven decision-making. They earn an average of $141,524 per year.
  • Security engineers design, implement, and maintain security systems and protocols to protect an organization's digital infrastructure. They’re also well-paid, with an average annual salary of $145,445.
  • DevOps engineers bridge the gap between development and operations teams by automating processes, optimizing software delivery pipelines, and ensuring efficient collaboration. These high-earners bring in around $128,464 each year, on average.
  • Cloud architects assess business requirements, select appropriate cloud platforms, and design scalable and secure cloud solutions. They also provide guidance on integration with existing systems. These IT professionals also make a decent living: an average annual salary of $140,940.

Land your IT dream job

Landing your dream job in the field of IT requires careful consideration of your interests, skills, education, experience, and the specific job market. By exploring different IT career paths, assessing your qualifications, and aligning them with industry demands, you can increase your chances of finding a fulfilling and rewarding IT career.

So, what are you waiting for? Join Handshake today to kick-start your career in the dynamic world of IT. Create your profile, set up job alerts, and watch the opportunities roll in.


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