Information technology—and the computers, devices, and networks that it supports—is essential to our time. At work, at home, and on the go, having reliable access to information through our technology has become critical to our lives. And as the industry continues to evolve, the world needs a capable and skilled workforce to keep it running smoothly.
About the work
Information technology includes a broad group of jobs and career paths. From cloud computing and computer programming to computer support and cyber and network security, IT offers a variety of opportunities for technologically savvy candidates to pursue the careers of their dreams. While roles may vary and specific responsibilities depend on the position, most IT professionals spend their time creating, evaluating, and maintaining programs and systems; interpreting, analyzing, and troubleshooting errors; testing programs, systems, and upgrades; and training other users.
About typical employers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many IT professionals find work with computer systems design and related service providers, in the information and telecommunications industries, or with education, finance, insurance, manufacturing, or management employers. Most are employed with full-time work, though whether they work a standard schedule or are required to work nights and weekends—or to be on call—depends on their role. For instance, many support specialists will need to be available at all hours to address needs or problems as they arise.
About the training
Education requirements will vary depending on the position you are seeking; computer support specialists, for instance, typically earn a certificate, diploma, or associate degree, while computer programmers and network and computer systems administrators are more likely to have a bachelor’s degree. Students are also encouraged (or may be required) to earn additional certifications to show fluency in specific computer languages, familiarity with certain programs or products, or understanding of industry or vendor best practices.
About national averages
The BLS shows that the median pay for IT jobs can vary as much as the positions themselves do. While computer support specialists earned median annual pay of more than $53,000 in 2018, network and computer systems administrators earned about $82,000 and computer programmers earned just over $84,000.
The projected growth rate for these jobs is also expected to vary over the next several years: for the period of 2016 to 2026, computer support specialist jobs are projected by the BLS to grow 11%—well above the average growth for all occupations. Network and computer systems administrators are expected to grow 6%, about as fast as the average for all occupations, and computer programmer jobs are projected to decline about 7% over the same time period.
While the information technology industry helps support the economy nationwide, there are some cities that may be better than others for anyone hoping to begin a career as a computer support specialist, computer programmer, or network and computer systems administrator. Here are the top 10 cities with the highest levels of employment for these jobs, according to May 2018 data from the BLS.
The New York metropolitan area, which includes New York, Newark, and Jersey City, employs over 17,000 computer programmers, nearly 14,000 computer support specialists, and more than 28,000 network and computer systems administrators. Mean wages in 2018 were all well above the national averages, with computer programmers earning nearly $93,000, computer support specialists more than $86,000, and network and computer systems administrators over $101,000.
On the other side of the country, LA (including Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Anaheim, California) also has mean wages above the national averages. LA IT professionals earned mean annual wages of nearly $93,000 (or hourly wages of $44.66) for computer programmers, more than $72,000 ($34.71 hourly) for computer support specialists, and over $92,000 ($44.56 hourly) for network and computer systems administrators.
If you’re considering an IT career path in our nation’s capital, there are more than 7,500 computer programmers, 7,000 computer support specialists, and 20,000 network and computer systems administrators (that’s over 6 systems administrators per every 1,000 jobs in the metro!). In DC, Arlington, and Alexandria, the BLS shows median annual wages of $72,000 for computer support specialists, almost $98,000 for computer programmers, and nearly $102,000 for network and computer systems administrators.
Not planning to pursue your IT career on one of the coasts? Dallas could be a great option for you, with more than 9,000 computer programmers earning median annual wages of nearly $98,000. The Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington, metropolitan area also employs more than 5,500 computer support specialists who earn median annual wages of more than $79,000. And the city’s 13,000 network and computer systems administrators make over $91,000 each year.
Information technology jobs can be just as rewarding in the Midwest. In Chicago, Naperville, and Elgin, Illinois, nearly 9,000 computer programmers earn about $94,000 in annual median wages, according to the BLS. The metro’s 8,000 computer support specialists earn annual median wages of $67,000 and close to 10,000 Chicagoland network and computer systems administrators earn about $88,000 each year.
Is Atlanta on your short list? This metro area, which includes Sandy Springs and Roswell, Georgia, is home to more than 4,000 computer programmers, over 5,500 computer support specialists, and about 8,000 network and computer systems administrators. With median wages above the national averages, the BLS says that computer support specialists earn almost $72,000 annually, while network and computer systems administrators make about $90,000 and computer programmers earn over $96,000.
IT professionals in Baltimore also earn wages above the national averages, with network and computer systems administrators earning median annual wages well over $111,000 and computer support specialists nearly $75,000. Computer support specialists account for almost 4,500 jobs in Baltimore—representing more than 3 jobs per every 1,000 in the area—while network and computer systems administrators represent more than 6 jobs per every 1,000, with over 8,000 employed in such positions.
In the Philadelphia area, computer support specialists earn median annual wages of more than $69,000 (and over $33 in median hourly wages). Plus, computer programmers earn median annual wages of nearly $92,000 (and hourly mean wages of $44), while network and computer systems administrators earn over $83,000 in median annual wages (or median hourly wages of more than $40).
Back in California, the San Francisco metro area employs over 6,000 computer programmers and almost 3,500 computer support specialists. These IT professionals work in San Francisco, Oakland, and Hayward, California. Computer support specialists in the Bay area earn median annual wages of more than $85,000 (or about $41 in hourly wages), while computer programmers earn median annual wages of nearly $106,000 (or almost $51 in hourly wages).
And finally, in Houston, the close to 5,000 computer programmers employed in the area earn hourly mean wages of $43.75 and annual mean wages of about $91,000. Plus, more than 8,000 network and computer systems administrators earn hourly mean wages of $48.33 and annual mean wages of more than $100,000. This Texas metro, which also includes The Woodlands and Sugar Land, can be another great option for pursuing an IT career.
Information technology professionals help industries all across the country run smoothly. If you’re considering pursuing work to become a computer programmer, computer support specialist, or network and computer systems administrator, these ten cities can all be great options for you to consider.
Ready to find training in your area to begin your educational journey? The Imagine America Foundation has a robust network of schools to help you find computer programming, computer support specialist, network and computer systems administrator, and more IT-related programs today.