In today’s talent market, having cutting-edge technical skills and/or a CS degree is potentially a ticket to a lucrative career in programming, software development or engineering. But what if you’d rather do something different? Will you have to give up the opportunity to make big bucks? Not necessarily.
Here are some examples of lesser-known tech jobs that pay hefty salaries (and are available today).
Are you curious, observant and refuse to take “no” for an answer? Then perhaps you’d make a fine data detective. These tech pros investigate and solve the mysteries hiding in Big Data, explained Ben Pring, co-founder and managing director of Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work and author of a study titled: “21 Jobs of the Future.” Best of all, there are investigative opportunities in virtually every industry, and you don’t necessarily need a PhD to cash in.
“Candidates need a general understanding of data science, spreadsheets and BI tools such as Tableau,” Pring said. “There’s a dearth of talent, so completing a few online courses can get you into the market.” An analysis of BLS data by Axios found that data detectives earned an average salary of $116,000 in 2016, and that number may have drifted higher in recent years thanks to low unemployment in the tech industry.
Conversational Agent Designer
If you’re interested in developing conversational systems and user interfaces such as voice assistants or chatbots, you can make $140,000 to $180,000 per year, noted Charlie Grantham, VP of Strategic Foresight for Community Design Institute and author of the book “Work the Future! Today.”
The growing demand for chatbots is creating opportunities in almost every sector, but if you want to get ahead of this curve, conversational A.I. is expected to revolutionize the healthcare industry in the coming years. Consider specializing if this is an area that interests you.
Are you a risk-taking, forward-thinking product developer who wants to invent the new status quo? While the specific job titles vary, a creative catalyst is responsible for bringing a company into the future by recognizing and meeting the upcoming demand for new products and services in a niche or industry, such as medical wearables or smart home devices, Grantham explained.
This role is comparable in many ways to a senior product developer, a role that can easily earn six figures a year with the right combination of skills and experience.
While the median salary for a growth hacker is $79, 618, they can make as much as $140,000 per year.
A growth hacker is someone who develops creative, fast-acting strategies for acquiring and retaining customers. It often involves a blend of marketing and coding. Sometimes growth hackers come from a marketing background, but product managers, developers and engineers can also be growth hackers, especially in a tech start-up.
Cyber City Analyst
As smart sensors are increasingly used to monitor everything from traffic to street lighting, analysts are needed to track and interpret data and ensure interoperable data flows, Pring explained. This is especially true in mid-size cities such as Pittsburgh or Milwaukee. In those kinds of towns, data analyst salaries can range from $77,000 to $84,000 per year, according to our latest Dice salary survey.
Man-Machine Teaming Manager
These multi-talented professionals are responsible for overseeing teams of engineers, marketers, designers, UX and program management professionals in developing an interaction system through which humans and machines collaborate to accomplish tasks. You may need a master’s degree and experience in robotics, machine-learning or human neuroscience techniques to qualify, but the average annual pay is high.
Bored at work? Consider becoming a digital targeter for the CIA. Digital targeters use their technical expertise, analytical skills, “specialized methodologies and tools to exploit clandestine and publicly available information in order to plan, initiate and support technical and human-based operations” (according to the CIA’s website). The starting salaries range from $59,983 to $148,967.
Technical Operations Officer
Technical operations officers for the CIA provide technical support and training in a wide range of areas including: analog, digital and satellite communications, video and image enhancement, coding and decoding devices, and various aspects of computer technology. The starting salaries range from $56,233 to $148,967 or more, depending on experience. Plus, if you are proficient in a mission-critical foreign language, you may qualify for a hiring bonus of up to $35,000 as well, noted Nicole de Haay, CIA media spokesperson.
“More than half of the careers at CIA are in STEM fields,” she pointed out. If you’re looking for a tech-related position that’s far from ordinary, you might want to explore a high-paying job at the CIA.