IT Salary: 12 Best-Paying IT JobsIf your job title includes the words "data" or "architect," you can expect a large salary for 2017.
1. C-Level IT Executive
No surprise here—the very best-paying IT job titles are those at the very top of the corporate ladder. According to Robert Half Technology's 2017 forecasts, typical pay for a chief information officer (CIO) will range between $175,000 and $279,000, while a chief technology officer (CTO) can expect $149,000-$240,000 and a chief security officer (CSO) will likely make $145,250-$236,750. Those salary ranges are all increases from 2016: 3.1 percent for CIOs, 3.3 percent for CTOs, and a full 5.3 percent for CSOs.
However, those big paychecks come with a lot of responsibility, and many C-level IT executives switch jobs frequently. In fact, the Harvey Nash/KPMG 2016 CIO Survey found that nearly a third of CIOs have been in their current positions for less than two years.
2. VP of IT
Just slightly lower on the corporate ladder, the average vice president of information technology can expect $143,250-$234,250 in compensation for 2017. That's a 3.1 percent increase over 2016 levels.
In order to qualify for a VP of IT role, job candidates generally need to have substantial experience in IT management—often a decade or more. Many jobs require degrees in computer science and/or business management, with many requiring an MBA. In general candidates for these positions need to have an excellent understanding of both technology and business, and are expected to be able to advocate for the needs of both of these parts of the company.
3. Consultants and Systems Integrators
Outside consultants and systems integrators are also among the top-earning IT workers. At the top end of the scale, those who work as directors of these type of firms will earn between $126,750 and $198,000 in 2017. But the pay isn't too shabby even at the bottom of the pay scale, with staff consultants earning between $81,250 and $121,500. All of the job titles in Robert Half Technology's consulting and systems integration category have forecasted salary increases for 2017, ranging from a 3.1 percent increase for practice managers to a 5.1 percent increase for senior IT auditors.
4. Big Data Engineer
For those who don't want to go into management or consulting work, big data continues to be one of the most lucrative areas of IT. The Robert Half Technology 2017 Salary Guide pegs salaries for big data engineers between $135,000 and $196,000, a 5.8 percent increase over 2016 levels.
Big data engineers can expect even higher salaries if they have certain in-demand skills. For example, ETL skills add a 6 percent premium to salaries, Hadoop 7 percent, Microsoft SQL Server 8 percent, and Oracle database 6 percent.
5. Director of Technology
The next job title on the list is back in the administration category. People with the title "director of technology" will likely earn $124,500-$193,500 for 2017, which is a 3.3 percent increase over 2016.
At smaller companies without a CIO, the director of technology is often the top IT leader for the organization and plays a large role in strategic planning. At larger companies, the director reports to the CIO or VP of IT and handles daily operations decisions. No matter what size the company is, the director generally has a lot of input on the IT budget and staffing decisions.
6. Information Systems Security Manager
As news of extremely large data breaches seems to break on an almost daily basis, security experts are becoming critical for organizations, and a shortage of qualified talent is leading to pay increases. In the Robert Half report, all of the job titles in the security category saw salary increases of at least 5 percent for 2017. The top-paying job title in the category is Information Systems Security Manager, which offers salaries between $136,000 and $191,750. At organizations without a CSO, the person in this role often has ultimate responsibility for the security of the company's systems, and the job comes with a lot of stress and long hours.
7. Data Architect
In keeping with the big data trend, data architects will see a forecasted 4.1 percent salary increase for 2017. These individuals will earn $131,250-$184,000, and they work closely with engineers, data scientists, business intelligence analysts and other members of the data management team.
In much the same way that regular architects design buildings, data architects design the systems and processes for handling an organization's data. They also may have some responsibility for integrating and securing various data sources as well as deploying and managing data management systems. In order to qualify for this job you need extensive experience working with databases and IT systems.
8. Network Architect
People with the skills to design networks are also in demand with network architects commanding 2017 salaries of $125,000 to $183,000, according to Robert Half. That's a 4.4 percent increase over this year's levels.
Again, those will skills in particular areas can earn even higher salaries. For instance, Cisco network administration skills can pay an extra 7 percent, Linux/UNIX 7 percent, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) 5 percent and Windows 10 an extra 4 percent.
9. Mobile Applications Developer
Mobile development is perennially near the top of IT salary lists, and this year is no exception. Robert Half predicts that mobile applications developers will earn $118,750-$182,250 this year, putting them at the top of the chart for the applications development category. Somewhat surprisingly, this job title isn't seeing salaries rise as quickly as some other areas of IT—just 3.4 percent this year—likely because salaries have already risen quite a bit in previous years.
Some of the best-paying development skills include Java (which carries an 8 percent premium), SharePoint (8 percent), LAMP stack (7 percent), .NET (7 percent), PHP (7 percent) and C# (7 percent).
10. Data Warehouse Manager
Another group involved with big data, data warehouse managers are likely to earn from $129,000 to $179,000 for 2017. That's a 4.1 percent increase from the previous year.
People with this job title are usually responsible for designing, creating and maintaining their organization's data warehouse, data mart or data lake, and they often oversee a larger staff that helps maintain the systems. The positions usually require a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, as well as several years of working with data warehouse technology and experience managing personnel.
11. Applications Architect
According to the Robert Half Technology salary report, applications architects can expect salaries between $124,500 and $178,750 for 2017, a 3.5 percent increase over 2016. Part of the application development team, application architects take a big picture view of how software functions. They often serve as intermediaries between the end users and the developers, and they help to ensure that the finished software meets the needs of the people who will use it. In order to qualify for these job roles, applicants need to have quite a bit of development experience as well as above-average communication and planning skills.
12. Database Manager
Because so many of the job titles in this slideshow relate to big data trends, it seems fitting that the last entry again deals with data management. For 2017, database managers can expect salaries of $122,250 to $177,000, a 3.7 percent increase from the year before. And those with expertise in Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle database can expect higher pay, 8 percent and 6 percent higher, respectively.
Database managers must have a combination of technical skills and people skills. They need to have several years of experience working with database systems, as well as the ability to manage a staff of database administrators. They generally have degrees related to computer science and may also have training in business management.
A quick look at the numbers makes it clear that it's a great time to work in IT. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), overall unemployment in the US has been hovering around 5 percent most of this year, which is an improvement over other recent years.
However, among IT workers, unemployment rates are even lower. Data from staffing firm Upp shows that IT unemployment ranges from a high of 4.3 percent in West Virginia to a low of just 1.6 percent in Nebraska and North Dakota, with a median of 2.9 percent.
Given those low rates of unemployment, it's no surprise that IT salaries are again on the rise. According to Robert Half Technology, IT workers will see an average salary increase of 3.8 percent in 2017, and some specialties, like security, development and database administration, will see even larger growth.
Which job titles will likely earn the highest IT salaries next year? This slideshow provides an overview of the 12 highest-paying IT jobs for 2017. It's based on data from the Robert Half 2017 Salary Guide for Technology Professionals.