If computers and technology get you excited, then you face a very bright future if you also plan to translate that passion into paycheck. Software developers dominated Forbes’ list of the top jobs in 2013, with two other IT-related professions — computer-systems analysts and network and computer systems adminstrators — making up a sizeable chunk of the top ten jobs for the year. Meanwhile, technology-related jobs also dominated the top 10 list of U.S. News’ Best Jobs in 2013, with database administrators and web developers joining other computer-crazed peers.

Ready to take the plunge into the fun world of high technology?

That said, you’re definitely in a good job market for the foreseeable future if you plan to eke out a living from your knowledge of one or more esoteric languages used in IT, according to a definitive forecast from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data-crunching bureau projects IT and computer jobs to grow by 22% from 2010 to 2020, representing some 758,000 new jobs generated during the ten-year period. BLS noted that the demand for computer professionals will be fueled by the pressing need of businesses, government agencies, and other organizations to integrate new technologies into their operations. According to BLS, workers in the IT and Computer field will be in high demand to develop software, enhance cybersecurity, and upgrade existing network architectures.

Here’s a runup of career paths in this field you surely would want to consider.

1. Computer Programmer

The most successful computer programmers enjoy writing codes that tell computers what to do. These professionals transform raw software design or blueprint into step-by-step instructions that are coded in special, highly esoteric languages computers understand. They also help test, debug and maintain computer programs. Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, programmers who belong to the top 10% of the profession earn about $115,610, a pretty hefty sum even in the economically sophisticated ranks of geekdom. For this profession, career advisers recommend deep specialized knowledge in a particular domain or language such as JavaScript, plus a general awareness of all allied domains such as mobile, web, and backend systems.

Median wages

$71,380 per year
$34.32 per hour

Typical Entry Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Employment in 2010

363,100

Projected Growth Rate

12% (About as fast as average)

Projected Job Openings through 2020

43,700

2. Computer Support Specialist

Computer support specialists are made up of technical support staff, help desk technicians and other professionals that generally assist, advice or provide troubleshooting services to computer users. If you want a career in this IT subsector, you have a fairly wide option of industries — such as IT, finance, education and telecommunications — to choose from. Be sure, though, that you have a positive outlook, a lot of patience and a genuine orientation toward helping people because you’ll likely be dealing with irate or unreasonable users or customers once in a while.

Median wages

$46,260 per year
$22.24 per hour

Typical Entry Level Education Some college, no degree       
Employment in 2010 607,100
Projected Growth Rate 18% (About as fast as average)    
Projected Job Openings through 2020 110,000

3. Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts serve as the bridge between hardcore IT professionals and the business part of any organization. To excel in this role, you should be able to thoroughly study an organization’s existing IT infrastructure — hardware, software and network — then provide recommendations to make its computer system more efficient and relevant. While it’s not necessary to know the bit-level details of specific technologies, the best computer systems analysts possess excellent collaboration skills, adopt a big-picture perspective, and have a strong understanding of how information flows throughout a system. If you have these traits, this career path is very promising to say the least, given a healthy job market demand over the next eight years, plus high financial compensation for the best in the field, estimated to be at around $120,060 for the top practitioners. The lowest pay is around $49,370.

Median wages $77,740 per year
$37.38 per hour
Typical Entry Level Education Bachelor’s degree       
Employment in 2010 544,400              
Projected Growth Rate 22% (Faster than average)        
Projected Job Openings through 2020 120,400        

4. Database Administrator

If you are good at storing, organizing and managing large amounts of data, you’ll likely excel at being a database administrator. These people help different companies across all industries — including banking, retail, insurance, health care and online busineses — manage and protect their data. You’re also in for a thriving job market as BLS forecasts a 31% growth rate (one of the highest in the IT industry) for database administration practitioners. Working with database is among the top programming careers with great earning potential. Note that top database administrators acquire certifications and continuous training in various database platforms such as MySQL, Oracle DBA, and MS SQL.

Median wages $73,490 per year
$35.33 per hour
Typical Entry Level Education Bachelor’s degree       
Employment in 2010 110,800           
Projected Growth Rate 31% (Much faster than average)     
Projected Job Openings through 2020 33,900     

5. Web Developers, Information Security Analysts and Computer Network Architects

While technically different from each other, BLS bundled several IT professionals in one category, largely because of closely identical job market opportunities and salaray grades among them.  Web developers are your go-to resource when it comes to designing, building and launching different kinds of websites — from internal corporate portals to publicly-accessible company sites. On the other hand, computer network architects help build organizations’ internal computer networks while information security analysts reinforces a company’s defense mechanisms against different types of cyber attacks.

Programming Languages And Computer Communication Protocols

Median wages $75,660 per year
$36.37 per hour
Typical Entry Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Employment in 2010 302,300
Projected Growth Rate 22% (Faster than average)
Projected Job Openings through 2020 65,700

6. Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Network and computer systems administrators make sure that an organization’s local network, email systems, telecommunications infrastructure, data storage and other shared computer resources are always running properly. If you’ve got the required skills, you’ll find gainful employment as a system administrator in a broad range of industries since just about any type of business requires these professionals in its ranks. For network and systems administrators, being up-to-date on emerging computing trends — such as cloud technology — is a must, in addition to getting relevant certifications and joining conferences.

Median wages $69,160 per year
$33.25 per hour
Typical Entry Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Employment in 2010 347,200
Projected Growth Rate 28% (Faster than average)
Projected Job Openings through 2020 96,600

7. Software Developers

Tech-savvy, creative and generally out-of-the box thinkers, software developers help create mobile apps, web services, operating systems, and other software applications that consumers and enterprises use every day, including addictive computer games as well surprisingly effective productivity apps. The demand for these professionals is well above average at 30%, and will be so for the foreseeable future. If you are a natural problem solver and really like writing codes in computer languages such as Java and Android, this career path would be a perfect choice in terms of opportunities and salary level.

Programming background

Median wages $90,530 per year
$43.52 per hour
Typical Entry Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Employment in 2010 913,100
Projected Growth Rate 30% (Much faster than average)
Projected Job Openings through 2020 270,900

IT and Computer Professionals to Rule the Job Market

The future is undeniably going digital and will be highly dependent on computers. That means people who have initimate knowledge of information technology will thrive in tomorrow’s career marketplace. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, IT practitioners will enjoy one of the highest average wages among all types of professionals and will be part of a steadily growing job market.

So what’s your plan? Have you chosen a specific career path? Any which way you choose, SkilledUp has you covered with relevant courses that will boost your confidence and ability to excel in the field. Enjoy your learning adventures!