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Top 9 Highest IT salaries in 2021

Contributor(s): Kevin Ferguson

Demand for skilled IT workers remains high, and their salaries generally reflect that. In fact, the IT sector remains one of the few bright economic stories of an otherwise dismal outlook amid the global pandemic of 2020.

Most of the projected 2021 salaries in this article were derived by taking the median annual wage for the job category at listed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2019 and assuming a compound annual growth rate of 3%. Additional data points, as noted, were derived from surveys conducted by Robert Half for its 2021 Technology Guide and Glassdoor. Note that the BLS figures are for median annual wage, or salary midpoint, while the others are for average annual salary.

The job categories are fairly broad. Software programmer, for example, could feasibly have dozens of subcategories. However, the figures cited and descriptions given do provide a good overview of the category. A few narrow categories, such as Scrum Master, are listed because of their relative popularity on job boards. In addition, the job categories represent some of the highest paid but not necessarily the most common. For example, there are innumerable calls for web developers, however, the job is often entry level. The median pay for a web developer in 2019 was $73,760, according to the BLS.

Data scientist

Median annual wage: $139,320

Projected job growth: Employment of data scientists, also called computer and information research scientists, is expected to grow 15% from 2019 to 2029.

Job description: Data scientists work in teams to mine big data for information that can be used to predict customer behavior and identify new revenue opportunities.

Why it's in demand: Big data rules. The demand for data science skills has grown significantly over the years, as companies look to mine voluminous amounts of structured, unstructured and semi-structured data, notably from the internet of things (IoT). Also, a growing emphasis on cybersecurity also should lead to new jobs.

DevOps engineer

Average annual salary: $109,802 (average based on Glassdoor and Robert Half surveys)

Projected job growth: 22% growth from 2019 to 2029 (BLS lumps DevOps in with software developers)

Job description: In large organizations, a DevOps engineer (DevOps is a combination of the terms development and operations) oversees code releases and deployments in conjunction with software developers, system operators (SysOps) and other production IT staff. The job requires a mix of hard and soft skills to overcome the traditional barriers among software development, QA, testing and IT operations teams.

Why it's in demand: The role of DevOps engineer has resulted from the movement to bring technology services close to business users within an organization.

Scrum Master

Average annual salary: $91,785 (average based on Glassdoor and Robert Half surveys)

Projected job growth: Apparently positive, but not entirely clear.  Demand was strong through 2019, but data is murky thereafter.

Job description: A Scrum Master is a facilitator for an Agile development team, responsible for managing the exchange of information among team members. 

Why it's in demand: Job boards, such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor in late 2020 continued to post more than 45,000 openings for Scrum Masters.

Computer network architect (CNA)

Median annual wage: $119,552

Projected job growth: 5% growth from 2019 to 2029

Job description: CNAs, informed by their thorough knowledge of an organization's business plan, design data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs) and intranets.

Why it's in demand: The expansion of healthcare information systems will also contribute to employment growth. However, the adoption of cloud computing, which allows users to access storage, software and other computer services over the Internet, may soften some demand for computer network architects -- except CNAs working for cloud-based providers.

Computer programmer

Median annual wage: $91,820

Projected job growth: Employment of computer programmers is projected to decline 9% from 2019 to 2029. Computer programming can be done from anywhere in the world, so companies sometimes hire programmers in countries where wages are lower.

Job description: Computer programmers write and test code that allow computer apps and software programs to function properly. They turn the program designs that software developers and engineers create into instructions that a computer can follow. 

Why it's in demand: Demand in the U.S. has weakened, although the ubiquity of computing means there will always be demand.

Software developer

Median annual wage: $114,057

Projected job growth: 22% growth from 2019 to 2029

Job description: Some organizations distinguish developers from engineers. Engineers oversee the entire system, applying principles of engineering. Software developers are in charge of creating specific, functional programs.

Why it's in demand: Software developers are likely to see new opportunities because of an increase in IoT, security and healthcare.

Computer systems analyst

Median annual wage: $96,456

Projected job growth: 7% growth from 2019 to 2029

Job description: Computer systems analysts, sometimes called systems architects, study an organization's current computer systems and procedures, and design solutions to help the organization operate more effectively. Good communications skills are a must.

Why it's in demand: The growth of cloud computing will require the expertise of computer systems analysts.

Database administrator

Median annual wage: $99,458

Projected job growth: 10% growth from 2019 to 2029

Job description: Database administrators ensure databases run efficiently and ensure that data is available to users and secure from unauthorized access.

Why it's in demand: The increasing popularity of database as a service (DBaaS) should drive employment of database administrators at cloud computing firms.

Information security analyst

Median annual wage: $105,802

Projected job growth: 31% growth from 2019 to 2029

Job description: Information security analysts must stay up to date on data security and the latest methods attackers are using to infiltrate computer systems. Analysts need to research new security technology to decide what will most effectively protect their organization.

Why it's in demand: Cyber attacks have grown in frequency, and analysts will be needed to design innovative solutions to prevent hackers from stealing critical information or creating problems for computer networks.

This was last updated in October 2020

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