Information technology is one of the fastest-growing industries today. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in this sector are projected to be the fastest growing through 2024. This is good news for students looking to get education in this field, or professionals looking to enter it.
Also good news: Many of these jobs are very well-paid, come with many benefits (say hello to the potential to work from home!) and are among the most desirable careers today. Let's take a look at a few of the hottest IT jobs currently available, what they entail, and the education needed to be hired.
All modern companies must rely on a lot of data to run their business, which usually comes in the form of complex numbers indicating market research, sales figures, inventory management, logistics, etc. The role of a data analyst is to make sense of all these numbers and data and use them to steer the company's decision in the right direction, such as determining the right discount to apply to a product, or how much money should be allocated to advertising.
A data analyst usually needs a degree in a field like statistics, math or computer science and information systems. Strong analytical skills are critical. This field is projected to grow 19 percent in the next 10 years.
A profession that is very closely related to the data analyst, the data scientist is more geared toward a leadership role since a certain degree of creativity is needed. Unlike the data analyst, whose responsibility is to solve the problems posed by the business team, the scientist has the responsibility to formulate the very questions that will drive the company's business. The data scientist must convert data into a business story, usually by taking a directorial approach.
A data scientist is paid a little bit more than a data analyst, but requires additional knowledge in fields such as advanced programming and machine learning. Since it's an upper-level job, a master's degree may be required. Long-term growth of around 11 percent has been projected here. (To learn more about data scientists, see Data Scientists: The New Rock Stars of the Tech World.)
An application analyst (also known as an application support analyst) is an IT professional whose job is to support a given application, maintain its services, and deal with customers in need of technical support. They should be able to analyze the problems an app user may experience, and adapt the application accordingly. Their roles also include ensuring the integrity, safety and functionality of the app while making sure it always runs smoothly by fixing any issue as quickly as possible.
Skills required include a strong knowledge of different computer programming languages and proficiency in a variety of computer software. A bachelor's degree in computer science or information technology is usually required. Long-term growth has been predicted to be at least 12 percent.
As a cybersecurity analyst, your duty will be to protect an organization's vital information and computer networks from criminal activities. Cybersecurity analysts constantly watch over networks to check for security breaches, and their responsibility is to take appropriate countermeasures whenever a threat is detected. They also educate other employees on information security and best practices.
A fundamental skill for this career is adaptability to change because cyberwarfare is constantly evolving. The education of a cybersecurity analyst must be very diversified and well rounded, usually starting with a bachelor’s in computer science or programming, and specific training in information security. This profession's growth is among the highest, with a whopping 28.5 percent.
An information architect's job is to make the experience of users interacting with the information structure of a software or website as enjoyable and accessible as possible. This position's focus is on using all the technologies that can improve user experience before and after a website is created, and testing the usability of the actual product to make it more actionable.
A broad skill set is usually required, since many elements need to be integrated to improve the accessibility of a platform, such as technical writing, web development and graphic design. High creativity is definitely a plus. This career path is expected to experience a growth of 17.7 percent through 2024.
Business Intelligence Consultant
Business intelligence consultants are among the most skilled and knowledgeable professionals of the information system sector. Their role is to oversee databases to gather and analyze information, so they can measure the efficiency of all processes and use this information to improve a business's efficiency. A much more advanced profession compared to data analysts and scientists, a BI consultant is not involved in the data collection process, but is better geared at transforming all this info into actionable insights.
A BI consultant must possess a large pool of skills, from coding systems, to analyzing data and understanding statistics. This professional must analyze the big picture and know exactly what a company needs to be successful. Multiple bachelor's degrees or a master's in information technology, math, statistics and business administration or business intelligence are usually required. A solid 11.5 percent employment growth has been predicted. (Need some career advice? Check out Take Charge of Your Career – Advice From Experienced IT Pros.)
Project managers are highly experienced individuals entrusted with the responsibility of the planning and execution of a project. They must manage the human and technical resources available to achieve the company's goal, and must, therefore, possess all the technical knowledge needed to fully understand all the parts of the project. Good people skills and organizational skills are a must to become a project manager.
A minimum of a bachelor's degree in management or business is usually required, but many later obtain a master's degree or a post-bachelor's certificate. This profession's growth is expected to be incredibly high at 33 percent.
Systems analysts (also known as computer systems analysts) are people who investigate a company's current computer systems and procedures, and then determine the best way to optimize their performance and efficiency. Their role is to recommend strategic changes and updates which may reduce the costs and increase the profits, efficiency and productivity of the IT infrastructure.
A strong knowledge of information systems is required, so a minimum of a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer systems analysis or information technology is required. However, a broader education that also includes a master's degree in business intelligence or business administration is usually preferable. A 21 percent growth has been predicted in the next 10 years.
If you are interested in a career in information systems, you should start with a good education. While all of these fields have some commonalities, knowing which career you'd like to pursue can help determine exactly which areas of study you should be focusing your attention on. You need a wide variety of different skills to pursue a career in this highly competitive and stimulating sector.