Best Technology Jobs

Adapted from: https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/best-technology-jobs

Original article written by US News

We use technology more than ever these days to stay connected to our friends and family, get up-to-date on the latest and greatest happenings in our world and sometimes just to pass the time. With all the computers, tablets, smartphones and other high-tech devices our society is dependent on, we need the skills of professionals in technology jobs to make our obsession with tech possible. U.S. News’ Best Technology Jobs of 2019 are high-paying jobs that boast low unemployment rates. Check out what makes these gigs so great.

1. Software Developer

Software developers invent the technologies we sometimes take for granted. For instance, that app that rings, sings or buzzes you out of a deep sleep every morning? A software developer helped design that. And when you roll into the office and turn on your computer, clicking and scrolling through social media, music and your personal calendar – software developers had a big hand in shaping those, too. You might spend your lunch shopping, and before you make that big purchase, you check your bank account balance using your phone. Later, you’re cooking a new recipe from that great app your friend told you about. As you look over the course of your day, you come to see that software developers are the masterminds behind the technologies you now can’t imagine living without.

The best software developers are creative and have the technical expertise to carry out innovative ideas. You might expect software developers to sit at their desks designing programs all day – and they do, but their job involves many more responsibilities. They could spend their days working on a client project from scratch and writing new code. But they could also be tasked with maintaining or improving the code for programs that are already up and running. Software developers also check for bugs in software. And although the job does involve extreme concentration and chunks of uninterrupted time, software developers have to collaborate with others, including fellow developers, managers or clients. Developers are often natural problem solvers who possess strong analytical skills and the ability to think outside the box.

Software developers are employed in a range of industries, including computer systems design, manufacturing and finance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 30.7 percent employment growth for software developers between 2016 and 2026. In that period, an estimated 255,400 jobs should open up.

2. Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts leverage both their knowledge of information technology and business to design better computer systems and processes for their clients. And although these professionals have many responsibilities, their first task is to understand their client’s business, whether it’s an organization in Silicon Valley or a firm on Wall Street. And they’ll specifically want to learn how the organization uses technology. Analysts will then research the best technologies to help the organization’s overall computer system – the hardware, the software and the networks – run more efficiently and effectively.

But their job doesn’t stop at research. These professionals also employ their business acumen to prepare a cost and benefits analysis for the upgrades. And if management approves the upgrades, computer systems analysts will oversee the installation of the new systems. They also test the systems and train their organization in them. And when the inevitable hiccups arise, computer systems analysts are the ones who troubleshoot the problems. You’ll find far more extroverts in this field than in other IT jobs, since the job duties include near-constant collaboration with others.

Randy Weinberg, teaching professor and faculty director of the information sciences program at Carnegie Mellon University, has been working in technology since the mainframe days, when people who worked with enormous computers wore special lab coats. The advances in the field have been constant. “It never gets less exciting,” he says. “It’s a constant challenge to keep up with all of the changes.” From compliance and privacy issues to the increasing reliance on mobile technologies, the industry is persistently changing.

Many analysts work for computer systems design firms, but they’re also employed by a host of industries that range from science to health care to banking and finance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 9.1 percent employment growth for computer systems analysts between 2016 and 2026. In that period, an estimated 54,400 jobs should open up.

3. IT Manager

Computer and information systems managers, or information technology managers, are the guides who help organizations navigate the always-changing labyrinth that is modern technology. These all-important employees deliver short- and long-term visions for the company’s technology needs and goals. Even though most IT managers have the technical chops to execute the various jobs of the workers they supervise, they are more likely to be caught in a meeting room than a server room. Coordinating technology-related matters with top executives, planning upgrades of existing software or hardware and negotiating with vendors for the service of current products or the purchase of new ones are all common tasks IT managers encounter. IT managers also install and upgrade an organization’s computer system and protect the office network from hackers and malware. When the job is done well, many employees won’t even notice the work involved. If you haven’t had an email interruption or server meltdown in the past few months, you probably have an IT manager to thank.

While the highest-profile jobs are in computer systems design, almost all organizations need IT managers, especially financial and insurance companies, manufacturing firms and federal, state and local governments. The rapidly growing health care industry is also expected to greatly increase its IT use, resulting in newly created positions. The chief drivers of this growth will be organizations upgrading their information technology systems to newer, faster networks and striving to avoid cyber threats.The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 12.0 percent employment growth for it managers between 2016 and 2026. In that period, an estimated 44,200 jobs should open up.

4. Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts are the gatekeepers or security guards of information systems. To explain it another way: These professionals plan and execute security measures to shield an organization’s computer systems and networks from infiltration and cyberattacks.

They prevent, monitor and respond to data breaches and cyberattacks, which are becoming more common. The Ashley Madison website was hacked in 2015, while Sony experienced a major attack in 2014, as did JPMorgan Chase & Co. And no one can forget all the shoppers compromised in Target’s major data breach in 2013.

Andrea Hoy, president of the Information Systems Security Association’s international board of directors, was always interested in how things worked. As a child, she would take apart malfunctioning toys and piece them back together, sometimes successfully and sometimes unsuccessfully. “I may have hid the leftover parts in my closet,” she says, jokingly. Later, this interest turned to computers, where she enjoyed the challenge of capturing viruses and dissecting malware.

The U.S. government, health care organizations, financial systems and other companies are growing more reliant on information security analysts to protect their information systems against hackers and cyberattacks.The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 28.5 percent employment growth for information security analysts between 2016 and 2026. In that period, an estimated 28,500 jobs should open up.

5. Database Administrator

Database administrators – DBAs, for short – set up databases according to a company’s needs and make sure they operate efficiently. They will also fine-tune, upgrade and test modifications to the databases as needed.

With information so readily available in this era of apps, tablets and social media, data has become the new treasure organizations must protect and cherish. More than anyone else, database administrators are relied on as the guardians of this treasure, implementing security measures to ensure sensitive data doesn’t fall into the hands of unruly pirates while also managing the databases that help store and organize it.

The job involves resolving complex issues, so attention to detail is an essential trait in this profession, as is a passion for problem-solving. Communication skills are also important since DBAs often work as part of a team with computer programmers and managers. Ongoing maintenance of a database requires being on call. These professionals are employed in a wide range of settings in the public and private sectors, and some DBAs work as consultants to organizations.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 11.5 percent employment growth for database administrators between 2016 and 2026. In that period, an estimated 13,700 jobs should open up.

6. Web Developer

Web developers are responsible for creating websites. When these artists do their jobs well, everything about a site seems to fit together superbly, from the colors and graphics, to the images and special effects (or “animation,” to those in the know), to the navigation.

The job includes meeting with clients and asking broad questions like, “What do you want your site to accomplish?” and more detailed questions like, “What features do you want your site to have?” After ascertaining a client’s desires, web developers will start designing. At Big Drop Inc., a web design and development company in New York City, this involves a multistep process, which includes innovating a new design, writing the code, adding animation if needed, checking for bugs and fixing them, presenting the client with a test site, and moving the site to the client’s server. “We don’t use any templates,” says Garry Kanfer, president of Big Drop. “We start from a blank canvas, and the client has to approve everything, page by page.”

Although some web developers will design a website’s front and back end, many web development companies split these responsibilities. For instance, some web developers will work in Photoshop to create the overall design, while others will be in charge of writing the code in programming languages such as HTML and CSS. Developers must take into account a client’s products or services as well as the target market to create a site that appeals to the client’s customers or intended audience. The job requires a knowledge of software programs, web applications and programming languages, as well as a solid understanding of design principles. Work environments for web developers vary from large corporations or governments to small businesses. Developers may be full-time employees or part-time consultants, or work on a contract basis as freelancers.

“The biggest shift in the industry is mobile technologies,” says Andrew Ruditser, lead technology coordinator at Maxburst Inc., a web development company on Long Island. “We have to make sure our sites don’t just look good on desktops, but also on Androids and iPhones.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 15.0 percent employment growth for web developers between 2016 and 2026. In that period, an estimated 24,400 jobs should open up.

7. Computer Network Architect

Computer network architects design, build and maintain a variety of data communication networks, from expansive cloud infrastructures to smaller intranets. Along with a host of technical skills, computer network architects also have a deep understanding of the company or organization’s business plans and objectives. They also need business acumen to do everything from budgeting the network design and implementation to managing a staff.

If you’ve ever saved something to the cloud, then you’ve depended on the handiwork of a computer network architect.

“You will have to constantly learn,” says Peter Steenkiste, a professor of computer science and electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “You need to be very much aware of not just about the technologies available today but about the trends. A lot of the designing of networks is effectively upgrading and expanding the networks.”

As companies and firms expand their IT networks, they’ll increasingly rely on these professionals to build new networks and upgrade existing ones. The popularity of cloud computing is also expected to drive the need for more computer network architects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 6.5 percent employment growth for computer network architects between 2016 and 2026. In that period, an estimated 10,500 jobs should open up.

8. Computer Systems Administrator

Computer systems administrators set up and maintain an organization’s computer servers. In a single day, they may encounter stacks of servers, dozens of crisscrossing network cables and major malfunctions with the hardware and software that runs the company’s local area and wide area networks. A network and computer systems administrator’s greatest contribution is maintaining an organization’s work flow and keeping its lines of communication open. This work is not for the faint of heart. Since companies depend on their networks for so much of their work, problems must be corrected swiftly and completely. Aside from identifying network issues and fixing them, computer systems administrators must also make updates to all equipment and software so they’re current. Another important aspect of the job is ensuring email and data storage networks work properly and employee workstations are connected to the central computer network. They also train new users on how to use relevant hardware and software. Some network and computer systems administrators also manage telecommunication networks so employees can work from home or on the road, which is becoming more and more important as new technologies allow employees to connect outside the office.

As its low unemployment rate indicates, this is an in-demand profession that’s expected to grow as employers invest in new technology and faster mobile networks. More administrators will also be needed to implement upgraded security measures to protect workplace computer systems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 6.1 percent employment growth for computer systems administrators between 2016 and 2026. In that period, an estimated 24,000 jobs should open up.

9. Computer Systems Administrator

Computer systems administrators set up and maintain an organization’s computer servers. In a single day, they may encounter stacks of servers, dozens of crisscrossing network cables and major malfunctions with the hardware and software that runs the company’s local area and wide area networks. A network and computer systems administrator’s greatest contribution is maintaining an organization’s work flow and keeping its lines of communication open. This work is not for the faint of heart. Since companies depend on their networks for so much of their work, problems must be corrected swiftly and completely. Aside from identifying network issues and fixing them, computer systems administrators must also make updates to all equipment and software so they’re current. Another important aspect of the job is ensuring email and data storage networks work properly and employee workstations are connected to the central computer network. They also train new users on how to use relevant hardware and software. Some network and computer systems administrators also manage telecommunication networks so employees can work from home or on the road, which is becoming more and more important as new technologies allow employees to connect outside the office.

As its low unemployment rate indicates, this is an in-demand profession that’s expected to grow as employers invest in new technology and faster mobile networks. More administrators will also be needed to implement upgraded security measures to protect workplace computer systems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 6.1 percent employment growth for computer systems administrators between 2016 and 2026. In that period, an estimated 24,000 jobs should open up.

10. Computer Programmer

Computer programmers write the code that allows software programs to run. So just like a boss tells an employee what to do, a programmer tells a computer what to do. Basically, they write directions in C++ and Python or another language, and the computer then follows the programmer’s detailed instructions. In many cases, a programmer’s work will start after a software developer or engineer passes off design specifications for a particular program. The programmer’s job entails refining the ideas and solving the problems that arise while converting the program into code. Programmers can also rewrite, debug, maintain and test (and retest and retest) software and programs that instruct the computer to accomplish certain tasks, such as storing or retrieving data, so the computer can perform better and more efficiently.

Computer programming is an exciting industry that’s still in its infancy, according to Jeff Lyons, founder and president of the National Association of Programmers. He writes in an email, “When I entered the industry, the internet was a DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] project and smartphones were not even a concept. Now, we have billionaires because they made it easy to search the internet for just about any topic we can imagine. Today, our very young children play with devices with more computing power than was available to launch all of the Apollo missions that landed men on the moon. Even the most nontechnical persons can easily utilize these devices to access the collective knowledge of mankind.”

These innovations are due, in no small part, to skilled computer programmers.

Programming is highly detailed work, and it usually involves fluency in several languages. Projects can be short and require only a few days of coding, or they can be very long, involving upward of a year to write. And because a large amount of a programmer’s time will be spent alone in front of a computer, telecommuting is a perk many programmers take advantage of. The job can be stressful at times, but computer programmers are compensated well for any anxiety they might experience.

Many jobs in this profession are being outsourced to other countries where pay is lower, saving companies money.The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects -7.2 percent employment growth for computer programmers between 2016 and 2026. In that period, an estimated 21,300 jobs will be lost.

By Amanda Ware
Amanda Ware Career Development Specialist Amanda Ware