The other day, my spinning instructor couldn’t figure out how to view the time remaining of a song playing in iTunes. “I’ll have to find some four-year-old to figure it out,” she joked, but she wasn’t really joking.
After all, my six-year-old nephew navigates the iPad like a little Tony Stark even though he can read just two percent of the words. Meanwhile, I caught his one-year-old sister busily creating an on-the-go playlist on my iPod.
Generation Z (born mid-1990s through the 2010s) is obviously intuitively tech-savvy, having grown up with smart phones and Google and ubiquitous WiFi. But while Zers might thrive on technology, they’re not actually that interested in tech jobs, according to recent research from CompTIA. This is especially troubling given the highly technologized state of the planet where even non-tech businesses rely heavily on computers, internet, software—and vital IT talent.
Millennials (the generation just ahead of Zers) make up over 60% of the current IT workforce. Their parents’ generation makes up 23%, while the Baby Boomers—at ages 55-65, soonest to retire—make up 13%. Zers comprise a significantly smaller subset—less than 5%.
Now, since the oldest Zers are just now graduating college (in fact, they’re still being born), it’s hardly time to panic, but the stats make a clear point:
As each generation of talent replaces the next, Zers will soon arrive on the scene finding massive shoes to fill.
When they do, which IT jobs will make the best careers? In a word, all of them, though some are growing faster or offer flashier salaries than others. Here are some key things to know about the 11 major IT jobs, ranked by size:
1. Software Developers, Applications — No. 1 occupation for growth in new jobs
- What they do: Develop, create, and modify general computer applications software or specialized utility programs. Analyze user needs and develop software solutions. Design software or customize software for client use with the aim of optimizing operational efficiency.
- Current jobs: 727,000. Software developers are by far the biggest force in the IT field.
- Growth: 126,000 new jobs since 2010 (21% growth).
- Projected growth: 86,000 new jobs by 2020 (12% growth). Growth is expected to slow way down.
- Salary: $97,500/year. Definitely on the higher end for IT jobs.
2. Computer Systems Analysts
- What they do: Analyze science, engineering, business, and other data processing problems to implement and improve computer systems. Analyze user requirements, procedures, and problems to automate or improve existing systems and review computer system capabilities, workflow, and scheduling limitations.
- Current jobs: 556,000
- Growth: 87,000 new jobs since 2010 (18% growth)
- Projected growth: 66,000 new jobs by 2020 (12% growth)
- Salary: $84,000/year
3. Software Developers, Systems Software — No. 2 occupation for wages
- What they do: Research, design, develop, and test operating systems-level software, compilers, and network distribution software for medical, industrial, military, communications, aerospace, business, scientific, and general computing applications. Set operational specifications and formulate and analyze software requirements.
- Current jobs: 404,000
- Growth: 57,000 new jobs since 2010 (16% growth)
- Projected growth: 40,000 new jobs by 2020 (10% growth)
- Salary: $104,000/year
4. Network and Computer Systems Administrators
- What they do: Install, configure, and support an organization’s local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), and Internet systems or a segment of a network system. Monitor network to ensure network availability to all system users and may perform necessary maintenance to support network availability.
- Current jobs: 380,000
- Growth: 36,000 new jobs since 2010 (10% growth)
- Projected growth: 23,000 new jobs by 2020 (6% growth)
5. Computer Programmers
- What they do: Create, modify, and test the code, forms, and script that allow computer applications to run. Work from specifications drawn up by software developers or other individuals.
- Current jobs: 314,000 jobs
- Growth: 35,000 new jobs since 2010 (13% growth)
- Projected growth: 17,000 new jobs by 2020 (5% growth)
- Salary: $80,000/year
6. Web Developers — Lower wages for the IT field
- What they do: Design, create, and modify Web sites. Analyze user needs to implement Web site content, graphics, performance, and capacity.
- Current jobs: 130,000 jobs
- Growth: 22,000 new job since 2010 (20% growth)
- Projected growth: 6,000 new jobs by 2020 (3% growth)
- Salary: $65,000/year
7. Information Security Analysts — No. 1 occupation for sheer rapid growth
- What they do: Plan, implement, upgrade, or monitor security measures for the protection of computer networks and information.
- Current jobs: 85,000 jobs
- Growth: 15,000 new jobs since 2010 (22% growth). Information security analysts jobs have grown faster than any other IT occupation.
- Projected growth: 10,000 new jobs by 2020 (7% growth)
- Salary: $90,000/year
8. Computer Network Architects — In the top three for wages
- What they do: Design and implement computer and information networks, such as local area networks (LAN), wide area networks (WAN), intranets, extranets, and other data communications networks. Perform network modeling, analysis, and plannin
- Current jobs: 146,000 jobs
- Growth: 15,000 new jobs since 2010 (11% growth)
- Projected growth: 14,000 new jobs by 2020 (11% growth). This is one of the few occupations that is expected to maintain its rapid-fire pace over the next five years.
- Salary: $100,000/year
9. Computer Network Support Specialists — Slowest growth and lowest wages in the IT field
- What they do: Analyze, test, troubleshoot, and evaluate existing network systems, such as local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), and Internet systems or a segment of a network system. Perform network maintenance to ensure networks operate correctly with minimal interruption.
- Current jobs: 191,000 jobs.
- Growth: 13,000 new jobs since 2010 (7% growth).
- Projected growth: 9,000 new jobs by 2020 (8% growth).
- Salary: $63,000/year.
10. Database Administrators — Expected to pick up speed over the next five years
- What they do:Administer, test, and implement computer databases, applying knowledge of database management systems. Coordinate changes to computer databases.
- Current jobs: 118,000 jobs.
- Growth: 12,000 new jobs since 2010 (11% growth).
- Projected growth: 14,000 new jobs by 2020 (16% growth). Database administrator jobs are expected to grow noticeably faster over the next five years.
- Salary: $81,000/year.
11. Computer and Information Research Scientists — No. 1 occupation for wages, but also fewest jobs
- What they do: Conduct research into fundamental computer and information science as theorists, designers, or inventors. Develop solutions to problems in the field of computer hardware and software.
- Current jobs: 27,000 jobs. Computer and information research scientists are immensely dwarfed by every other IT occupation.
- Growth: 3,000 new jobs since 2010 (12% growth).
- Projected growth: 2,000 new jobs by 2020 (9% growth).
- Salary: $107,000/year.