5 Long-Lasting Technology Careers for the Future

It's hard to come up with a reason not to pursue a technology career given the employment outlook for the sector. For one, IT-related jobs are some of the best-paying careers for new college graduates. In fact, on ThinkAdvisor's list of the 30 best-paying college majors and careers, those affiliated with the IT industry commanded 12 of the top spots.

Second, the tech revolution of the past few decades has indelibly altered the business and cultural landscape. Today, we live in an "app economy" that revolves around the smartphone apps we now depend on for everything from mobile banking to fitness tracking. In fact, Time magazine estimates that these applications will contribute almost a half a million jobs to the U.S. economy.

Finally, the projected employment growth in the technology industry is much stronger than that of other industries – the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts employment in computer systems design and related services will grow by 3.9 percent, compared with the national industry average of 1.3 percent. Clearly, the tech industry is the place to be for job-seekers. Below, we've compiled a list of the five best careers in this burgeoning field.

Computer Software Engineer

Man working on computer

Image via Flickr by Samuel Mann

This job typically involves developing and optimizing computer systems or computer applications software. Computer software engineers are the go-to professionals for mobile app design, but their training also equips them to create general computer software for business clients. According to the BLS, software developers specializing in applications had a mean annual wage of $96,260 in 2013, and the number of these jobs available will grow by 22 percent in the next decade. The clamoring demand for mobile apps as well as an increasing number of mobile devices that run them will sustain growth in this profession.

Cloud Architects

Cloud computing is much more than a fleeting fad – it is the future of the nexus between business and information technology. The promised efficiency and flexibility of private clouds has businesses frantically seeking qualified professionals who can create and manage these custom data centers. Cloud architects typically have a strong traditional IT background but also understand that the cloud is a dynamic entity, unlike conventional IT systems with defined parameters.

These professionals help design and maintain the cloud, but they also manage vendor relationships, negotiate licenses, and monitor technical results. Because this niche is fairly new, the BLS does not have exact salary information, but computer network architects in general made an average of $97,700 in 2013.

Computer Systems Analyst

The IT careers with the most longevity are those that help integrate technology with business. Professionals like computer systems analysts who understand the needs of businesses as well as the logistics and capabilities of IT will always be in demand. Computer systems analysts evaluate organizations' existing computer procedures and systems and create IT solutions to maximize operational effectiveness and efficiency. These analysts stay apprised of technological trends and consult with management to identify emerging solutions that might improve the organization's performance.

The BLS predicts this occupation will see job growth of 25 percent in the next decade, which is must faster than 11-percent occupational average. In 2013, computer systems analysts made an average of $85,320.

Data Scientist

An inescapable cliche in IT departments and boardrooms alike is "data is the new oil." Businesses are quickly catching on to what big data – or the information produced by system logs, web clickstreams, transactions, social media, and other activity – can do for their bottom line, and they need help making sense of it all. Both the demand for and the potential of this career prompted the Harvard Business Review to call data scientist the "sexiest job of the 21st century." Obviously, big data is here to stay.

But what exactly do these sexy professionals do? An evolution of the traditional data or business analyst position, data scientists typically have a strong background in computer science and applications, statistics, math, modeling, and analytics. Their role is essentially to "tame" unwieldy and seemingly nonsensical big data so business can identify patterns that offer insights into customer behavior, system vulnerabilities, and security risks. A data scientist looks at data from all angles to spot trends that might provide solutions to an urgent business problem or give companies a competitive advantage.

The median salary for a data scientist with 0-3 years of experience is $80,000, while those with nine or more years' experience make $150,000 according to a Burtch Works' 2014 study. Job outlook for this career is also rosy – a 2011 McKinsey Global Institute report predicted that there will be 4 million big-data-related positions by 2018 along with a 1.5-million shortage of people to fill them.

Web Developer

Not all high-paying, long-lasting tech jobs require years of higher education. Case in point: web developers, who create and design websites, need only an associate's degree for most positions. These professionals are responsible for the aesthetic appearance of websites as well as their technical side, including capacity and performance. Web developers determine how much traffic a site can accommodate and also create content for it.

E-commerce has not shown any signs of slowing down, so the employment prospects for web developers are robust. Likewise, consumers increasingly view emails and websites on their smartphones instead of PCs, which drives demand for web developers who can help businesses make their sites mobile-friendly. Employment in this profession will grow by 20 percent in the next decade according to the BLS, which is almost twice the national occupational average. In 2013, the BLS reported a median annual wage of $67,540 for web developers.

Looking back over the past few decades, the tech industry has unrelentingly demonstrated growth and optimistic job outlooks. What's more, this industry shows more resilience for economic vicissitudes than other sectors, with the recent recession barely affecting its employment rates according to the BLS. For job-seekers looking for careers that are both on the rise and here to stay, technology positions can offer the best of both worlds.

Contributed to jobs.net by Kim Evans

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