Best Technology Jobs 2012
Technology permeates nearly every aspect of our lives. So it’s hardly a surprise that job seekers and students majoring in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects are among the most in demand by employers.
Five of U.S. News & World Report’s Top 10 Jobs for 2012 are in technological fields. Here they are, along with information on job duties, what’s needed to enter the field, salaries and expected growth.
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Computer programmer. Computer programmers write code for software programs and turn program designs into instructions that a computer can follow. Other duties listed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) include updating and expanding existing programs and building software engineering tools to automate code writing.
According to U.S. News, a two-year degree often is all that is required for a computer-programming job, but “it’s best to think of yourself as a perpetual student who’s always staying just ahead of the latest programming language. A bachelor’s degree in computer programming or a related field will open more doors.”
Programmers often take courses or attend seminars to update their knowledge of programs, and computer programming certifications offered by vendors and software companies “may provide a jobseeker with a competitive advantage,” according to the BLS.
The median wage for computer programmers in 2010 was $71,380, the BLS reported. Growth is predicted at 12% by 2020, about the same as the average for all occupations listed by the BLS. U.S. News cites the field’s “strong job satisfaction numbers, competitive salaries, and excellent job prospects” as reasons for it making the Top 10.
Computer systems analyst. Computer programmers with some business experience may advance to the position of computer systems analyst.
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Computer systems analysts must understand not only computer technology but also how it can be best applied. U.S. News describes a computer systems analyst as a “very technically-oriented project manager.” Analysts study the organization’s computer systems and procedures, and then work with management to implement strategies to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
According to the BLS, a degree in business or a computer of information sciences field is common, but some analysts with degrees in business or liberal arts also get hired, if they know how to write computer programs.
A degree in management information systems is a good choice for students looking to enter this field. Some firms also require a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) degree.
Median annual salary in 2010 was $77,740, according to BLS, which also reports job growth in the field at 22% by 2020.
Web developer. Web developers design and create web sites with both the client and the site’s users in mind. They are responsible for both the appearance and the technical aspects of the site.
Duties include writing code and debugging applications, and working with designers, graphic artists and other team members to determine the site’s look and content.
Web developers must know HTML as well as other computer languages. Some web developers get hired with nothing more than a high school diploma – requirements vary widely according to employer’s needs. A bachelor’s degree in a computer related field is a good start, though, and some employers prefer developers who have some background in graphic design.
Median annual salary for web developers in 2010 was $75,660, according to BLS. Growth of 22% by 2020 is expected.
Database administrator. Database administrators build and maintain the systems that house an organization’s digital information. They are charged with making the data available to authorized users and keeping it safe from others.
Administrators must know database languages such as SQL. Most companies require a bachelor’s degree in management information systems or a computer-related field. Some larger firms also require an MBA.
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U.S. News recommends administrators “obtain certification for as many database platforms as possible, so that your skills are transferable from one company to the next.”
The median annual salary for database administrators was $73,490 in 2010, according to the BLS, which predicts growth in this field at a whopping 31% by 2020.
Software developer. U.S. News advises that software developers “should have one hand writing code and the other on the pulse of the evolving IT world. Advances are constant in this industry, and having an inquisitive nature will serve a budding developer well.”
Developers create applications that allow users to perform tasks on their computer or other device. Some develop the systems that run devices or control networks.
A bachelor’s degree in mathematics is acceptable for some positions, but most employers prefer candidates have a degree in a computer-related field such as software engineering. A master’s degree in a computer related field is required by some organizations.
A working knowledge of the employer’s industry also is advisable.
The work is challenging but the pay is handsome, with a median annual wage of $87,790 in 2010, as reported by the BLS, which predicts job growth at a healthy 30% by 2020.