Top 15 Highest Paying IT Jobs in 2020

By Jeff Gillis

When it comes to in-demand skills, technology-related capabilities are almost always at the top. Information technology (IT) plays a critical role in nearly every industry, and many companies struggle to find the talented pros they need.

Many of the highest paying IT jobs require incredibly unique skill sets. Professionals with the right stuff are actually relatively rare, especially when it comes to growth areas and emerging technologies. That’s why companies pay so much; they want to entice top candidates to come work for them and even encourage others to join that field.

But which of the most lucrative information technology careers is right for you? Are you overlooking one of the types of IT jobs that could really boost your bank account?

If you want to make sure you pick the right opportunity, here’s what you need to know about the highest paying tech jobs.

What Are IT Jobs?

Alright, before we take a look at the highest paying IT jobs, let’s take a step back and look at what IT jobs actually are. Technically (see what we did there ;-)), any position that is centered around tech fits the bill, as long as it’s about more than using the technology.

For example, simply using a computer to handle your duties doesn’t mean you’re in a tech job. If that were the case, practically every professional would be considered an IT worker.

But, if you create code that tells a program how to work, design computer networks to ensure employees can access the right resources, or build security protocols to keep ne’er-do-wells out of company systems as core parts of your role, those jobs count. These pros go beyond knowing how to use the technology; they understand tech on a different level.

One trick about IT jobs is many people who don’t work in them assume that they are all alike. It’s a common misconception that any tech professional can handle the duties of any other IT employee. That’s just not true.

There are multiple types of IT jobs, with most of them separated based on their core functions. There are positions that focus on security, development, or analysis, each of which is different from their other tech counterparts. The fields require unique skillsets, differentiating them from the pack.

JEFF'S TIP: If you’re interested in landing one of the highest paying IT jobs, but want to make sure you choose the right niche, consider what kinds of duties you want to take on and what motivates you to excel. Are you an investigator-type who enjoys analyzing information and looking for patterns? Then a data-oriented or analyst role may be the best fit. Do you like creating and want to be able to see the results of your work in a real way? Then development or design-oriented jobs may be a better option. Do you love outsmarting people who would do your employer harm? Then consider security. Every IT job has a foundation. By finding the one that speaks to you, you can choose your perfect tech career path.

Ultimately, all information technology careers are a bit different from the rest. That’s what makes the field so exciting. It’s much more diverse than many people realize, so there’s a good chance theirs a path that’s right for you.

Top 15 Highest Paying IT Jobs

Now it’s time for what you’ve been waiting for. Here’s a look at the top 15 highest paying IT jobs around, including what they involve and how much you could earn.

1. Big Data Engineer

A relative newcomer in the tech landscape, but easily one of the highest paying IT jobs around, big data engineers help companies make sense of all of the structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data that they’ve been saving up. These pros review the information to find patterns and come up with insights, sharing what they discover so that company leaders can make sounder business decisions.

As a big data engineer, making $118,675 a year is pretty much the norm. If you become a lead big data engineer, $159,135 is closer to the standard.

2. Mobile Application Developer

With the widespread use of smartphones and tablets, mobile application developers are in-demand. These IT pros create apps for use on iOS, Android, or other mobile devices, using their coding skills and web development knowledge along the way.

As a mobile application developer, annual compensation of about $92,542 is pretty typical. Plus, the best and brightest can often earn more, potentially over $114,325 a year.

3. Information Systems Security Manager

Security is a priority for many employers. As an information systems security manager, making sure that systems and networks are secure is your main responsibility. You’ll implement security measures as well as troubleshoot vulnerabilities, finding new ways to keep unauthorized people out, all while meeting regulatory standards.

Information systems security managers can easily earn $124,063 annually. If you reach the top of the field, then pay above $149,454 could be yours.

4. Enterprise Applications Architect

As an enterprise applications architect, you’d design critical parts of company-specific applications, like the user interface and infrastructure. You may also be responsible for handling updates to existing applications, allowing them to function better or support new capabilities.

Enterprise applications architects can make around $130,975 a year. However, it isn’t uncommon to cross over $141,360 once you get well into your career.

5. Data Security Analyst

Keeping data secure is a must. As a data security analyst, you’d review systems for vulnerabilities, implement security solutions, and establish standards and protocols. Plus, you’d troubleshoot potential intrusions and examine data integrity issues to determine possible causes, allowing any security-related problems to be corrected.

Data security analysts can earn about $99,730. If you reach the top of the field, you may even make more than $158,860.

6. Software Developer

When it comes to an in-demand skill set, software developers have it. They have the ability to create applications and software, something that more and more companies need. Plus, they have a lot of software and systems know-how, ensuring that the applications they create can work on the available hardware.

As a software developer, a yearly salary of $105,590 is pretty typical. If you join the top 10 percent of earners, then making more than $161,290 could happen.

7. Database Manager

Nearly every business on the planet has some kind of database. Database managers make sure that the system can hold and organize the right information, as well as help companies find opportunities to use data they collect strategically.

As a database manager, you could earn $137,590 a year. With time, you could even bring in more than $164,814.

8. Wireless Network Engineer

Mobility within a workplace can be just as important as when pros leave the office. Wireless network engineers make sure that employees can stay connected to critical resources, whether they are at their desks, in a conference room, or in the breakroom. Plus, they may sure those connections stay secure, adhering to various standards and best practices.

Wireless network engineers commonly earn around $74,935 annually. But with some experience, making more than $83,213 is potentially on the table.

9. Data Scientist

With a strong background in statistics and modeling, data scientists take complex datasets and find meaning in them. Once they gather insights, they report to company leaders, supporting sounder decision making by the organization.

As a data scientist, a salary near $94,280 is the norm. However, it’s possible to make more than $158,060 if you reach the top of the field.

10. Cloud Engineer

Many companies have been moving to the cloud, allowing them to access their data, systems, or applications from nearly anywhere. But, to make that possible, they need support from cloud engineers. These professionals maintain cloud infrastructure, ensuring solutions are accessible and secure.

As a cloud engineer, you could make around $121,998 with relative ease. Plus, crossing over $133,526 is potentially possible, particularly as you gain experience.

11. Senior Web Developer

Developing a great web-based application takes a lot of know-how. Plus, once you reach the senior web developer level, you also need to be able to manage a team of web developers, ensuring projects stay on target and the quality of the work meets or exceeds expectations.

Technically, web development is a programming niche. It’s a specialized skill set that may include programming as well as front- and back-end systems integrations. In exchange for their expertise, senior web developers can earn annual salaries of around $99,492. With experience, making more than $112,626 is a real possibility.

12. Pre-Sales Technical Engineer

A unique role that spends a lot of time interacting with non-technical professionals, pre-sales technical engineers work with potential customers to identify their needs and develop tech product or service solutions. At times, the role focuses on helping tweak existing technology products or services for prospective clients, though some pre-sales technical engineers gather requirements for custom solutions instead.

Usually, development and sales knowledge are both needed to excel in these positions. That way, if you make a promise to entice a customer, you’ll have the expertise to only offer something that can actually be pulled off. In exchange for your know-how, a salary of about $87,598 a year is possible. However, the best in this field can earn $170,000, or potentially more.

13. Systems Administrator

Maintaining technical infrastructure is at the core of the systems administrator role. If a piece of critical software or hardware fails, it’s a system administrator that figures out what went wrong and finds a solution. When networks need updating or expanding, systems administrators create plans and make it happen.

If you enjoy diversity in a role, becoming a systems administrator could be a smart move. You could also specialize – focusing on networking or computer systems – if you’d rather concentrate on a particular niche. In either case, a yearly salary near $83,510 is pretty standard. Plus, if you reach the top of your field, making $132,520 or more is completely possible.

14. Site Reliability Engineer

Site reliability engineering is a fairly unique niche. It bridges the gap between traditional IT operations and software application development. Their goal is to make sure that all systems and software play nicely, increasing overall reliability, troubleshooting issues, and responding to incidents.

In a way, site reliability engineers are like proactive quality assurance (QA) pros. They want to stay ahead of problems, finding solutions before the issue causes trouble. In exchange for their skills, site reliability engineers can typically make about $84,201 annually. However, the best in their field can earn upwards of $95,664.

15. Chief Information Officer

When it comes to the highest-paying tech jobs, you have to look at the top of the tech career food chain. There, you’ll find the chief information officer (CIO) role. Usually, the CIO reports only to the chief executive officer (CEO), making them the head of all things tech for a company.

Along with needing a solid understanding of technology as it relates to a particular organization, a ton of business-savvy is also essential. That way, they can make sound decisions that forward company goals.

In exchange for their unique expertise, a CIO usually makes about $122,982 a year. However, that number can actually be much higher, particularly if you snag a job at a large company. When you look at the top ten highest-paid CIOs, the average compensation was over $3.3 million. Now, if that isn’t something worth shooting for, we don’t know what is.

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, there are a lot of lucrative information technology careers out there. If you want to be a top earner, consider the options above and dedicate yourself to the field. You’ll be able to work your way up in no time, as long as you give it your all, allowing you to snag one of the highest paying IT jobs around.

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About The Author

Jeff Gillis

Co-founder and CTO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Jeff is a featured contributor delivering advice on job search, job interviews and career advancement, having published more than 50 pieces of unique content on the site, with his work being featured in top publications such as INC, ZDnet, MSN and more. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.