Top Paying Technology Jobs in 2021

ITCareerFinder analyzes wages and hiring data to identify the highest paying information technology jobs.

This article will be updated annually with the latest jobs and salaries. Current year: 2021.

Best Paying Tech Jobs

Pay may not be everything, but it’s very important. How important? According to a recent study by Indeed, 93% of tech workers cite pay and benefits as the most important factor when considering a new job.

What’s more, in a rapidly changing field like information technology, workers often need to reach into their own pockets to acquire new skills and maintain their marketability. In other words, to make money in tech, you need money to invest in professional development. Enough said.

To help you maximize your income potential, here is a look at 12 of the highest paying technology jobs, why they are so valuable to employers, and what you need to land a position.

  • Data Architect | $145,500

    To gain knowledge and insights from data, businesses must first visualize and build a secure, enterprise data management framework. The need to create a blueprint at the conceptual and logical level, is intensifying the demand for data architects and pushing their salary midpoint (or median national salary) to $145,500 according to Robert Half Technology’s 2021 Salary Guide (RHT).

    Aspiring data architects should note however, that this is not an entry-level job. Most architects hone their skills in other IT positions. To get started, earn a bachelor’s degree then polish your skills in database design and management by working as a data engineer, data analyst or applications developer. Once you have some experience under your belt, you’ll be able to transition into a high-paying career in data architecture.

  • Data Engineer | $166,500

    Data engineers and data architects have similar skills, but they use their knowledge in different ways. Data engineers build the data architecture for the enterprise and are known as data science “enablers.”

    With demand outpacing supply, these modern-day gold miners topped RHT’s list of top earners for 2021, with median salaries of $166,500. FYI, big data engineer and data engineer are often used interchangeably to describe the same role, however titles may vary based on the size and complexity of the data sets and experience.

    Many data engineers start out as software engineers and learn popular tools of the trade such as Spark, Kafka and cloud platforms like AWS and Azure either on the job or through online courses.

  • Database Manager | $137,500

    With more and more data being collected, stored and mined for valuable insights, the demand for database managers, especially those with advanced degrees, has never been higher. Called the “keeper of the company’s knowledge” by RHT, database managers currently make median salaries of $137,500 per year.

    Why makes database managers so valuable? For one thing, it takes a lot to become one. Roughly 50% have bachelor’s degrees and nearly 23% have master’s degrees. Since a database manager is responsible not only for managing and updating the database environment but also for managing a team of professionals who handle tasks such as designing and configuring database systems or database programming, they need strong leadership and analytical skills. Relevant certifications in popular database technologies such as Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2, and MySQL will also help maximize earnings in this role.

  • Product Manager | $121,107

    Because product managers decide which products, software and apps to build, they can have a huge impact on customer satisfaction and a company’s bottom line. It’s no wonder they pulled down median base salaries of $121,107 over the past year according to Glassdoor.

    To be clear, you don’t necessarily need a technical or engineering background to become product manager. However, you will need excellent communication skills and the ability to set priorities and shepherd a product from concept to release. To help you plot a path to a high-paying job as a product manager, check out these stories and tips from transitioners.

  • Cloud Engineer / Architect | $105,565 / $107,309

    Even before the pandemic, cloud adoption was rising, but now it’s sky-high. The burgeoning market – which is projected to reach $623.3 billion by 2023 – is creating a skills shortage and driving salaries up, with architects earning $107,309, and cloud engineers earning $105,565, according to Glassdoor. In fact, Yahoo Finance calls cloud computing one of the most recession-proof industries today.

    Given the similar salaries, choosing between the two roles often comes down to whether you like to design and plan (architect) or manage and monitor (engineer). Best of all you don’t necessarily need experience to launch a career in the cloud as long you earn a certification and build up your portfolio, possibly through pro bono work.

  • Senior Web Developer | $124,750

    The first ever website went live on August 6th, 1991. Today there are approximately 1.2 billion websites in the world. How did we get here? Web development. And with senior pros earning median salaries of $124,750 according to RHT, and projected job growth of 8% from 2019 to 2029, web development could be one of the tech careers with the highest lifetime earning potential.

    Best of all, many pros are self-taught. So if you want make a career pivot into tech without going into debt, web development is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door. Plus, adding mobile skills to your toolbox can boost your paycheck even more.

  • Mobile App Developer | $135,750

    In 2020, mobile app downloads reached 218 billion and app store spend hit $143 billion worldwide. It’s no wonder that mobile application developer is ITCareerFinder's Best Computer Job for the Future, with projected growth of 26 percent over the next decade, and a median salary of $135,750 according to RHT.

    Breaking into this lucrative field can take longer for some than others, depending on your knowledge of computer science fundamentals and object-oriented programming. Here’s a deeper look at the mobile developer career path including marketable skills, credentials and programming languages for aspiring app creators.

  • Software Engineer | $123,250

    Propelled by the phenomenal growth of software, apps and games, demand for software engineers has been rising and shows no signs of stopping, with projected job growth of 22% from 2019 to 2029. The midpoint salary is $123,250 according to RHT and senior pros can earn $140,000 or more.

    If you get a computer science degree, acquire information systems knowledge and master fundamental programming languages, you can earn $75,000 to $100,000 or more right out of the gate as a software engineer.

    However, software developers are increasingly self-taught, possibly as high as 60% according to studies from Stack Overflow and HackerRank. If you teach yourself or go the bootcamp route, it may take you a couple of years or more to reach a six-figure salary.

  • DevOps Engineer | $120,000

    DevOps roles, which combine operations with software development, are hot because results show that the implementation of DevOps creates efficiencies that deliver new features faster.

    It’s no wonder that DevOps engineer is often heralded as one of IT’s most in-demand job titles. What’s more, because they help increase a company’s productivity, DevOps engineers earn a mid-point salary of $120,000 according to RHT's latest salary survey. Here’s a list of skills you need to become a DevOps engineer, but don’t worry, you don’t need to master all of them to land a lucrative position in this field.

  • Project Manager | $128,750

    According to a report from the Product Management Institute, there will be almost 214,000 new project management-related jobs (PM) per year in the U.S. Their strong organizational, communication, budgeting, leadership and problem-solving skills are needed in a variety of industries, including information technology.

    These versatile professionals have a wide range of backgrounds and earned average salaries of $128,750 according to RHT. Indeed.com lists over 63,000 PM job openings, proving that there are plenty of opportunities to enter the field and move up. From intensive bootcamps, to hands-on training, self-paced online courses, seminars and certifications, there are numerous ways to become a project manager in the IT space.

  • Information Systems Security Manager | $149,000

    With the average cost of a data breech for unprepared U.S. organizations at $8.19 million and rising, it’s no wonder that information security managers are wanted universally and earn a top-tier salary of $149,000.

    Acquiring cybersecurity skills and certifications such as Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or CompTIA Security+ can give you an edge in the market and help you land a position as an information systems security manager or even an entry-level job as an information security analyst. One thing is certain, there will be a huge need for cybersecurity workers over the next decade because the bad actors are not going away anytime soon.

  • Director of IT | $129,335

    Most sizable organizations have at least one director of IT—large companies often have more than one. The universal need for talent makes IT director an attainable position for tech managers and supervisors who want to move up the ladder and earn average annual salaries of $129,335, according to Glassdoor.

    IT directors usually earn their title after working as lower-level managers for at least five years, according to the BLS. Along the way, they work under mentors and gain experience with project management, budgeting, information security, planning, software development, staff management and more.

    Then, with the right education, experience, skills and success, IT directors can be promoted to an executive position as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or Chief Information Officer (CIO). While the median salary for a CTO is $210,125, CIOs take the grand prize at $237,875, according to RHT.

Final Thoughts

After all is said and done, there are plenty of opportunities to earn high salaries, top-tier bonuses and great perks with a position in information technology. However, to reach and sustain peak earning power, IT pros need to be committed to continuous growth and development throughout their careers.

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