If you’re looking at a possible career in information technology and are thinking of how to get the most out of your experience, then you’ll want to consider the benefits of earning your master’s degree in IT.
By earning an advanced degree, you’re able to specialize within an IT field or further supplement your technical experience – making you a more viable candidate for higher level positions as well as a higher salary.
Just as importantly, advanced degrees allow you to specialize in fields that you find more engaging or interesting. While higher salaries can be a measure of success, they may not be worthwhile if you’re committed to a career path that you find to be frustrating or unfulfilling. Attaining an advanced degree can help secure you a career path where you’ll be well-compensated and fulfilled.
The Need for Information Technology Professionals
The need for IT professionals across all industries continues to grow at a steady rate. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has positive projections for information technology job opportunities. The BLS forecasts that employment from 2020 to 2030 will grow by:
- 11% for computer and information systems managers
- 22% for software developers and quality assurance analysts
- 33% for information security analysts
The growth for all of these computer science and IT careers is much faster than the projected 7.7% average growth for all occupations. This translates to a projected 247,900 job openings every year across all of these positions over the next decade. While the there is a lot of opportunity within the IT field, its popularity means there’s also heavy competition for positions – so it’s important to find a way that you can stand out as a job candidate.
The Importance of Education When it Comes to IT Management
When it comes to positioning yourself as a stand-out candidate for IT positions that pay a good salary, you can promote your prior experience, your level of education or a combination of both.
According to the BLS, STEM occupations such as computer systems analyst and computer programmer will often provide a wage premium for master’s degree holders. In addition, firms and organizations often prefer to hire IT managers who have master’s degrees.
This preference comes from an increasing need for competent managers who are able to specialize in certain IT areas, such as cloud computing, data analysis, data storage and information security systems, in addition to having at least a basic understanding of how these areas relate to each other in the business world.
Any accredited master’s degree program in information technology management should be geared towards providing knowledge and skills necessary for taking a managerial role in information technology. Depending on the focus, some degrees may also teach business management skills and can be beneficial for positions that require an expertise in administration.
Earning a master’s degree that covers both management and IT disciplines can provide a framework for managing an information technology team in the business world, making you a strong candidate for a high-paying job. The actual degree requirements will depend on the program and the areas that you would like to focus on. Possible relevant programs include an MBA in IT, a Master of Science in IT or a Master’s in Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship.
Information Technology Management Salaries
Higher salary positions are often those that require specialized skills and knowledge, though even when a position is open to any level of degree, the candidate with the higher level degree will usually be hired at a greater rate of pay. A 2015 report by the BLS showed that, where an average worker aged 25 and over with a bachelor’s degree would earn $56,000 per year, the average master’s degree holder would earn $68,000 per year.
All salaries are offered in a range of pay, which will vary depending on location, industry and a candidate’s level of experience. Education is considered to be one of the variables, and when comparing average salary of those with a bachelor’s degree vs. those with a master’s the results can be rather significant.
Salaries below are sourced from payscale, ziprecruiter and glassdoor. Amounts are estimates based on level of education as listed on these sites as of December 2021. Actual salaries will vary based on level of experience and geographic location.
|Information Security Analyst
|Network Computer Systems Administrator
|IT Support Specialist
|Senior Program Analyst
Why Information Technology Job Salaries Fluctuate
It’s important to remember that outside of a job candidate’s background and experience, all salaries and employment opportunities fluctuate due to multiple factors, mainly:
- Industry type
- Local market conditions
- Employer size
Information technology salaries will vary based on the job responsibilities, time commitments, and pay scales relative to that specific industry. For example, a 2020 BLS review of salaries paid to “computer and information systems managers” found that salaries for that position varied significantly across different industries:
|Annual Mean Wage
|Monetary Authorities – Central Bank
|Computer Systems Design and Related Services
|Scientific Research and Development Services
|Investment Pools and Funds
Geographic location is also an important factor, as areas with flourishing industries that are dependent on IT will have more positions available, local businesses can afford to pay more to fill those jobs, and the higher competition can drive up salaries. Conversely, metropolitan areas will carry a higher cost of living compared to non-metropolitan areas. Here’s how the annual mean wages compare according to the BLS:
|Annual Mean Wage
|San Jose | Sunnyvale | Santa Clara
|New York | Newark | Jersey City
|Washington | Arlington | Alexandria
|Boston | Cambridge | Nashua
|Dallas | Fort Worth | Arlington
|Chicago | Naperville | Elgin
|Annual Mean Wage
|Central East New York
|Northern New Hampshire
The 2020 BLS study also compared the annual mean wage of computer and information systems managers across different U.S. states as a whole:
|Annual Mean Wage
Of course, the company itself will greatly determine the salary range of a position. A company’s size will play a role, as larger corporations have access to more capital and can make higher offers. Some salaries may also be matched with certain benefits, such as insurance, perks or stock options. The following is a list of openings for computer and information systems managers, featuring a selection of companies from different industries and locations.
Job opening and salary ranges sourced from glassdoor as of December 2021.
|Salary (Estimate or Range)
|Indiana, New Jersey, California
|Texas, New York, Virgina
|Elite Educational Institute
|California, Texas, Washington
|$149k – $207k
|Applied Energy Group
|$127k – $143k
|$156k – $208k
How to Increase Your Information Technology Salary
Companies are looking to invest in a sure thing, so you need to present confidence that you can bring the skills and knowledge that they’re looking for. Beyond your working experience, there are additional steps you can take to present yourself as the most attractive candidate.
- Obtain a postgraduate degree to specialize in your chosen area:
- An MBA in IT combines business management skills with an advanced understanding of programming, engineering or information architecture.
- An MSIT adds business acumen, management and targeted problem-solving skills to a strong background in computer science and computer engineering.
- The MITE degree is designed for those seeking new market opportunities or leadership roles in technology or industries heavily impacted by changes in IT technology.
- Obtain relevant and respected IT certifications to further bolster specific knowledge:
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
- AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
- Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect
- Project Management Professional
- Certified Information Security Manager
- Certified in Risk and Information System Control
- Obtain specialized skills related to web development and/or database administration:
- C# and C++ development
- Java, .NET and SAP development
- SharePoint and Microsoft SQL Server
- Oracle Database
- Content management systems (CMS)
- Cisco network administration
- Linux/Unix system administration
Consider Your Career Goals to Determine Your Education Path
The most important factor of all is that you’ll go further and achieve greater success if you pursue an education path that you feel passionate about. Real value will come from doing what you do well, and then searching for the resources that will allow you to build your knowledge and refine your skills.
If you’re interested in being purely a software designer or engineer, look for MS in IT Management programs. If you’re thinking of launching a career as an entrepreneur within the realm of IT or are looking to start up product development within the growing tech field, then you are encouraged to consider the MITE degree.