Five Career Paths for Students Passionate About Technology
Anyone who considers themselves technically proficient is usually bored by the majority of conventional jobs in the common retail and service sectors. When you're an advanced techie who enjoys working with computers and software, normal tasks like scanning and bagging groceries can seem excessively mundane and tedious. Luckily, there are plenty of jobs that are perfect for students who are passionate about technology, but don't expect any of them to be easy. On the other hand, if you're up for the challenge, you could stand to gain a fulfilling career by pursuing one of the following 5 tech-oriented degree paths:
1. Information Technology Specialist
As an information technology (IT) specialist you'll be tasked with the duty of maintaining, troubleshooting, managing, repairing, and upgrading computer systems and servers to enhance performance and security. Every large company needs at least one IT specialist, so it's a job that's always in high demand, and that demand will only rise as the economy becomes increasingly digital during the next decade and beyond. With more than 130,000 projected new jobs in this sector and a median annual salary close to $100,000, this is a desirable career path for anyone who aspires to be the head tech professional at a large company.
If you enjoy finding solutions to problems in your computer's operating system, this would be a perfect career option to keep you occupied and interested with your work. You can even earn an information technology degree online from a distance learning institution like Purdue University Global without ever having to attend a campus on schedule, which makes it an ideal option for students who find themselves studying and working at odd hours of the day or night, as many techies often do. Best of all, a course in information technology only takes about 20 weeks to complete, yet it provides access to some of the highest paying jobs in the corporate tech sector.
2. Software Developer
Becoming a software developer is a great career path for any creative techie that enjoys coming up with app ideas. As a software developer you'll be more than just an administrator – you'll be an inventor. Although in-house software developers are usually assigned a decent salary, there's also the possibility of designing and monetizing your own apps. Additionally, software development is something that can be done anywhere, so it's a perfect career path to take if you plan on working remotely or going the freelance route. Of course, this field encompasses a wide range of programming languages and platforms, so you'll have the skills and credentials needed to apply for an abundance of jobs in the technology sector.
Furthermore, there are plenty of options for advancing your career at a later date by expanding into various specialities (i.e. - taking a course in mobile app development). With so many businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs lining up to introduce their new app ideas to the world, a proficient software developer should never be without a job. Plus, since it's a relatively difficult occupation, the supply of developers is almost always lower than the demand, so excessive competition or saturation is usually not a concern in this market.
3. Computer Systems Analyst
If you enjoy taking a more analytical approach to technology and you're capable of completing complex and meticulous tasks, becoming a computer systems analyst (CSA) can help you turn your natural abilities and tendencies into a lucrative career. A CSA takes on the challenging responsibility of analyzing a company's current computer and information systems to find opportunities for improvement and optimization. As a critical component in the organization and digital strategy of a company, the CSA is often allocated a hefty salary and is considered an elite technical professional within the ranks of almost every corporation.
As a CSA, you'll be able to offer your services as an in-house employee or on a freelance basis. Graduates in this field will therefore have the ability to earn a side income via individual consultations while also securing a more stable position within a company. The ability to offer your services as a freelancer not only increases your annual income, it also helps you build a diverse resume faster. The market's sparse supply of competent and experienced CSAs accompanied by an ever increasing demand means you'll find no shortage of opportunities, each of which adds another trophy to your portfolio.
4. Web Developer
If you'd prefer to work from home or while traveling, becoming a web developer is a great way to have a high paying tech career that affords plenty of freedom and other perks. You don't necessarily need a degree to become a web developer, but it will help to take courses and obtain certifications to prove your skills. With that said, don't expect it to be easy, as learning how to build pages and interfaces from scratch can be quite challenging in the beginning. As time passes and you become a more proficient developer, you'll find that it is similar to all other kinds of technical work in that you'll be paying attention to detail and formulating creative solutions to problems.
While some web developers opt for an in-house position that has them maintaining a company website, blog, and/or app, you'll also have the option of offering your services as a freelancer. The demand for highly skilled web developers continues to rise as more companies begin to realize the importance of building an impressive web presence. Perhaps the best part about this career path is that you can learn everything needed to get started online without ever paying for a course, so it can be treated as a hobby until you're good enough to start charging.
5. Mechanical Engineer
Since mechanical engineering isn't necessarily related to computers, but it's still a good job for techies, we listed it last. However, don't let the last place ranking fool you, as it can often carry a higher salary than any of the other occupations listed above. In fact, graduates earn a starting salary of more than $60,000 – the second-highest behind only the healthcare and dentistry professions.
After that, the average salary increases to more than $72,000 for entry level mechanical engineers who have minimal experience. Senior positions regularly offer $100,000 per year or more. In addition to a hefty salary and prestigious job title, you'll also gain valuable skills that will help you build and implement your own custom solutions and inventions at home and/or for use in your own businesses. Students concerned about landing their first job in the field will be pleased to learn that there are plenty of apprenticeships available in this sector.
Pursuing More Than One Path at the Same Time
Of course, all of the career paths mentioned above are not mutually exclusive. In fact, to the contrary they all complement each other quite well, and once you learn one field, it will be much easier to pick up another technical skill set. For example, it's reasonably possible to study to become a software developer and a web developer at the same time, or to study mechanical engineering while also taking an information technology specialist course. Someone with all of the above skills on their resumé is almost guaranteed to earn a $100,000+ annual salary within a few years of their graduation.