We live in a technology-driven society, always awaiting the next big technology breakthrough. We wait in line for the newest phone, only to do it all over again once the next version debuts. Handwritten notes have been replaced by emails, which are quickly being replaced by texts and instant messages. A flat-screen TV is nice, but one equipped with 3D technology is even better.
This thirst for the newest, most innovative technologies isn't likely to be quenched anytime soon, ensuring that the need for workers in the technology field will continue to grow. According to workforce and staffing solutions company Kelly Services, U.S. computer-related or technology occupations are expected to grow at a much stronger rate (21.8 percent) than overall employment (14.3 percent) through 2020. These occupations make up 49 percent of overall STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) employment, and STEM jobs are seen as essential to a growing economy and vital to the nation's competitiveness.
If you want to know which IT jobs are growing, what they pay and the skills they require, here's a closer look:
The fastest-growing IT jobs
Demand for these workers is being driven by the increased need for businesses, government and other organizations to design, adopt and leverage the latest technologies. Yet some IT occupations are growing at a faster pace than others. The five fastest-growing IT jobs through 2020 include:
1. Software developer, systems software
Percent growth: 32.4
2011 average annual salary: $100,420
2. Database administrator
Percent growth: 30.6
2011 average annual salary: $77,350
3. Network and computer systems administrator
Percent growth: 27.8
2011 average annual salary: $74,270
4. Software developer, applications
Percent growth: 27.6
2011 average annual salary: $92,080
5. Computer systems analyst
Percent growth: 22.1
2011 average annual salary: $82,320
Markets with the most opportunity
Technology jobs can be found in virtually every U.S. market, and given the nature of the work, many roles may allow for telecommuting. However, certain U.S. markets have a strong concentration and a substantial volume of IT jobs compared to total employment.
The following 10 metropolitan areas are expected to grow their IT employment by more than 8 percent in the next five years:
- Austin, Texas
- Columbus, Ohio
- San Francisco
- San Jose, Calif.
- Washington, D.C.
If you're just starting college, you're not sure of your major, and you've always had an interest in technology, consider pursuing a computer-related degree. Not only is this area growing, but many occupations offer impressive salaries to boot. In fact, two out of the top five starting salaries for all majors went to computer grads. Computer engineering majors earn an average starting salary of $64,499, while computer science majors can expect $63,402.
The skills needed to excel
Workers interested in pursuing an IT or computer-related job should possess strong problem-solving, analytical and communication skills. Yet employers are also looking for individuals who want to push the boundaries of technology by using their imagination and creativity. Given what already has been discovered, who knows what the next generation of IT innovators will create next.