Many IT jobs come with rigorous academic requirements, but not all of those jobs offer high starting salaries and explosive growth potential. Which ones offer the best (and worst) return on investment (ROI)?
IT Jobs With the Best ROI
Entry-level salary: $59,000
Average salary: $102,446
Although 60 percent of DBAs have a bachelor’s degree, 16 percent have an associate’s degree and 20 percent have some college, according to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. Demand exceeds supply, with U.S. News & World Report ranking the DBA profession as the fifth-best IT job and the twelfth overall best professional job in America. If you’re looking for more reasons to throw your hat in the ring, consider that the average salary for DBA’s topped $100,000 in Dice’s annual survey.
Associate Software Engineer
Entry-level salary: $59,252
Average salary: $81,951
Software engineers are in high demand and often command six-figure salaries, but it may take more than four years (and potentially a lot of money) to complete the rigorous coursework. A less-costly two-year degree is a viable alternative. The average pay for a mid-career associate software engineer is over $81,000, according to PayScale. If you do get an associate’s degree, you can pick up additional experience on the job and move into a higher-level position.
Entry-level salary: $49,975
Average salary: $82,206
You can become a programmer either with an associate’s degree, or by mastering the fundamentals on your own and earning one or two key certifications. It’s possible to command an even bigger paycheck if you learn a red-hot programming language. Only about 50 percent of programmers hold a bachelor’s degree and another 20 percent have taken some college courses.
Entry-level salary: $49,000
Average salary: $76,774
Web developer was called one of the hardest tech jobs to recruit for in North America by Wanted Analytics; the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts continued growth through 2022. Your initial outlay could be very, very low if you have a creative eye and are adept at self-study. Around 43 percent of Web developers have a four-year degree, while 20 percent have an associate’s degree; many are self-trained.
Entry-level salary: $61,000
Average salary: $90,000+
Although the average salary for newbie software developers comes in at around $61,000 per year, overall cash earnings for entry-level software developers range from $41,000 on the low end to near $89,000 at the top, according to PayScale. The heftiest packages can include bonuses and profit-sharing, which means you could potentially recoup your educational costs in just a few years. Although 50 percent of software developers have a bachelor’s degree, 8.5 percent have some college, and 5.1 percent have an associate’s degree.
IT Jobs With the Worst ROI
Entry-level salary: $37,559
Average salary: $52,448
Software QA Tester
Entry-level salary: $51,322
Average salary: $51,322
No, that’s not a misprint. Experience has a modest effect on income for professionals in the software-testing field, where 64 percent hold a bachelor’s degree, 14 percent have an associate’s degree and 9 percent have a master’s degree. It’s probably best to view a role in software testing as a stepping-stone to greater things.
Entry-level salary: $50,689
Average salary: $73,690
You usually need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or engineering, along with several certifications, to work as a systems administrator. And while the pay isn’t bad, it’s near the bottom of the stack when compared to other IT jobs with similar educational requirements.
Entry-level salary: $38,710
Average salary: $43,210
Any way you slice it, most technical support positions offer limited growth, low entry-level salaries and a poor ROI. Roughly 29 percent of help desk specialists have a bachelor’s degree, 18 percent have an associate’s degree and 22 percent have some college but no degree. Collectively, that represents a substantial investment in education for a very low return.
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