Let’s face it: Although we’d all like C-suite pay, precious few people actually land jobs as CEO, CTO, or CIO. However, there are several tech jobs that pay a significant salary—whether or not you’re working for a famous tech firm in San Francisco or a largely unknown one in the Midwest.
In order to determine some of these solid-paying jobs, we turned to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes job postings from across the country. We looked at mean market salary for 2019 (so far), isolating for tech positions that pay over $85,000 per year. Next, we examined jobs with a healthy projected rise in employment over the next seven years—plentiful positions were key. (A gig as an artificial intelligence (A.I.) researcher might pay a ton of money—but it’s of no use to you, as a job-seeker, if it’s a position with relatively few openings, and not poised to grow very much over the next decade.)
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the breakdown. One very interesting thing to note: If we go by this Burning Glass analysis, many salaries have fallen a not-inconsiderable amount since 2018.
Before we get into that weird dip in salaries, though, let’s look at the composition of this list. As we’ve surmised from other analyses of Burning Glass data—and if you take that data as truly representative of the American job market—it’s clear that companies are very hungry for those technologists who can handle everything from application development to securing systems. And that, in turn, suggests that companies recognize the need for technology spending of all types.
If you adhere to the Burning Glass projections, it seems clear that companies are prepared to spend as much as they can on software and infrastructure (and related jobs) over the next several years. This, too, makes sense: companies need apps, they need someone to manage their databases (and make their IT infrastructure as efficient as possible), and they need to make sure that the systems remain untouched by hackers.
But between 2018 and 2019, many of these jobs also saw a significant dip in mean salary. For example, software developers, information security analysts, and computer network architects all went from six-figure jobs to high-five-figure jobs. What gives?
It’s difficult to tell, but we have some theories. At this point, the current economic expansion is pretty mature—and driven in many ways by tech. For years, students have been told repeatedly that technology jobs are plentiful and high-paying—compelling many to not only pursue computer science degrees via traditional universities, but also bootcamp and MOOC stints.
At a certain point, the “pool” for technologists with certain skills becomes very large—giving employers a lot more choice when it comes to candidates. It also gives employers a bit more leverage in terms of what they need to pay for those jobs.
Something along these lines may have happened in the data-science industry. Earlier this year, TechRepublic (working from Glassdoor data) concluded that pay for data scientists had decreased 1.2 percent year-over-year. TechRepublic cited a blog posting by Vicky Boykis, senior manager for data science and engineering at CapTech Ventures, who suggested that an influx of new people to data science might have led to a salary-squelching oversupply of talent. “Based on my own participation as a resume screener, mentor to data scientists leaving boot camps, interviewer, interviewee, and from conversations with friends and colleagues in similar positions,” she wrote, “I’ve developed an intuition that the number of candidates per any given data science position, particularly at the entry level, has grown from 20 or so per slot, to 100 or more.”
Could a similar talent oversupply explain why, say, software developer salaries have fallen roughly $10,000 between 2018 and 2019 (in the estimation of Burning Glass)? Sure, it’s possible.
Here’s another theory, and a somewhat more positive one when it comes to jobs and future prospects. As midsize cities across the country build out their tech ecosystems, they’re hiring more technologists (hence the projections of massive future growth for some of these positions); but those midsize cities don’t offer salaries commensurate with what people earn in major tech hubs such as San Francisco and New York City, which pulls down the mean salary numbers. That being said, the cost of living in places like Nashville or Boise is much lower than, say, Seattle or Boston, which means that even those lower salaries go pretty far.
Whatever the case, we have a number of takeaways here: Tech jobs continue to pay well (although maybe not as well as they did last year), and long-term job growth seems healthy for a number of positions. As we’ve explained before, the key to standing out in these crowded fields is specialization—if you can learn the fundamentals of machine learning, for instance (and how to apply them to your workflow), you’ll only increase your value to an organization.