What Can You Do With a Technology Degree? Career Paths & Salaries for Students & Graduates

With technology touching nearly every facet our daily lives, the opportunities to study and work within a tech-related field continues to increase. Computer science, software engineering, and information technology are just a few of the many degrees leading to a ripe and growing job market. Graduates enter into positions ranging from computer systems analysts to information security managers and video game designers. Read on to explore the educational and professional pathways available to you, as well as tips and tricks to help along the way.

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How to Use Your Technology Degree

While the scope of tech-related degree options is extensive, students of all disciplines will cultivate skills applicable to the vast majority of jobs. This includes the ability to approach complex mathematical and scientific problems with thorough analysis and creative solutions. Just as important, graduates become proficient in communicating within a team, prioritizing responsibilities and negotiating decisions.

What Skills Will You Gain with a Tech Degree?

Analytical Mindset

In a tech career, you may be troubleshooting computer hardware or investigating a database’s security breach. Regardless of the task, students develop an aptitude for collecting and examining information, identifying problems and determining potential outcomes. This is accomplished through a sharp eye for spotting patterns and connections, as well as effectively communicating the systematic and logical steps necessary to a solution.

Flexibility

With changes in technology occurring nearly every day, students in a technology degree program are encouraged to learn to be flexible in their research and studies. This is an industry that creates questions at the same speed that it finds answers. Students should strive to become well versed in confronting challenges and uncertainties with a willingness to investigate and the humility to ask for help from peers and relevant networks.

Attention to Detail

What might appear to be the slightest error can lead to loopholes in network security or website malfunctions. Students are encouraged to acquire patience for examining their work with the utmost scrutiny, which allows them to predict or detect red flags, bugs, and design imperfections.

Coding

Whether it’s Java, SQL, Python, or C#, most students will not leave a computer science or information technology degree program without, at minimum, an introduction to coding. Considering that this is a top-rated skill for an in-demand job, you may want to pay extra attention during those programming classes.

Effective Communication

A common misconception is that a tech professional’s main interaction is with their computer. Expert and software engineer Drew Cortright debunks this claim “You are not going to be staring at your computer each and every day. You will be in meetings, you will be talking to other teams, and you will be explaining what you’ve done or problems you have encountered. Without good communication skills it’s just going to confuse others, take longer to get answers or to get help from other teams.”

How Does a Tech Degree Help You in the Job Market?

As one of the fastest growing, highest-paying and top-ranked industries in the world, technology is a coveted career path. The ability to navigate the digital world is relevant to nearly every vocation. Of course, higher popularity breeds increased competition. Completing a degree in computer science, information technology or another tech-related field grants you a necessary edge within the job market. Employers are seeing an increase of candidates that have opted for coding boot camps or free online courses. While these options may teach the technical skills required for certain positions in a shorter time frame, students enrolled in a university or college program have four years to narrow down their interests, build a professional network, gain practical experience and sharpen skills that are relevant to any vocation. A proficiency in problem-solving, effective communication and a willingness to learn are necessary backdrops to accomplishing any other task that comes your way.

Technology Career Paths & Salary Potential

Technology is an ever-evolving industry that responds and adapts to our changing world each day. As a result, tech-related career paths continue to increase and diversify. The annual report Cyberstates™ found that 194,000 tech jobs were created in 2017 alone. Below you can explore the skills and responsibilities necessary to a variety of academic and vocational trajectories, with salary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Computer Programmer

  • 2017 Median Pay: $82,240
  • Minimum Degree Level Required: Bachelor’s

Description: Computer programmers transform the designs of software developers into codes and scripts that are used to implement processor and software applications. Other key tasks involve generating programs that are able to store and recover data and updating the efficiency of existing programs. Although certain responsibilities will be approached independently, strong communication skills are a must, as you will often be collaborating with a team of technical personnel to pinpoint problems and brainstorm solutions.

Video Game Designer

  • 2017 Median Pay: $88,510
  • Minimum Degree Level Required: Associate

Description: If you have a knack for envisioning compelling storylines, then video game design may be the perfect niche. Attention to detail and creativity are key when creating an entire world and its characters. You must possess strong knowledge of programming and graphic design software in order to effectively develop and execute ideas. On top of this, your creation must be marketable, which calls for an interest in human psychology and societal trends.

Computer Network Architect

  • 2017 Median Pay: $104,650
  • Minimum Degree Level Required: Bachelor’s

Description: Computer network architects are responsible for developing data communication networks that range from small-scale connections between buildings to large-scale projects involving cloud communications. You may work on local area networks (LANS), wide area networks (WANS) and Intranets. Using critical thinking to make quick decisions is imperative for maintaining and safeguarding network performance. Entry-level jobs usually require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or engineering. However, many employers seek candidates who hold a master’s degree in information systems.

Computer/Network Systems Administrator

  • 2017 Median Pay: $81,100
  • Minimum Degree Level Required: Bachelor’s

Description: While computer network architects design data communication networks, the computer/network systems administrators are in charge of configuring and implementing network functions. You will troubleshoot both hardware and software issues, back up data, as well as carry out disaster recovery plans. Constant monitoring of networks demands skills in time management and task prioritization. This is a great fit for those who enjoy personal contact, as more than half of your time is spent listening to and collaborating with others.

Information Security Analyst

  • 2017 Median Pay: $95,510
  • Minimum Degree Level Required: Bachelor’s

Description: If you are interested in taking on the role of virtual security guard, you may want to consider studying computer science or information technology with an emphasis on cyber security. Information security analysts use encryption and firewalls to protect networks and confidential information from viruses and bugs. As cyber attacks continue to increase, so does the need to fill this position. Also crucial is for analysts to follow the rising trends in cybercrime and safety measures.

Web Developer

  • 2017 Median Pay: $67,990
  • Minimum Degree Level Required: Associate

Description: Are you the type of person to critique the websites you visit? Do you notice how fast they run, or if they appear organized and professional? If so, you may want to explore web development. Web developers are in charge of designing the look of a website, as well as accounting for processing speeds and traffic capacity. Entry-level positions often require an associate’s degree, along with strong skills in programming and graphic design.

Hardware Engineer

  • 2017 Median Pay: $115,120
  • Minimum Degree Level Required: Bachelor’s

Description: This sector of the tech industry is a great fit for those who enjoy a more hands-on work experience. Computer hardware engineers design, build and repair the physical components of computer systems including circuit boards, routers and processors. Daily activities include building models and prototypes, documenting instructions for use and collaborating with engineers to ensure that hardware meets the needs of software. You must be well versed in electronics, engineering and principles of physics.

Software Engineer

  • 2017 Median Pay: $103,560
  • Minimum Degree Level Required: Bachelor’s

Description: Most software engineers possess a bachelor’s degree in computer science, as well as are proficient in programming and computer engineering. Your key role involves developing systems software for applications in the medical, military, aerospace and business fields. Although you might expect this job to involve extensive screen time, engineers spend a large portion of their days working with a team, discussing ideas in meetings and employing active listening in order to respond to the needs of others.

Computer & Information Research Scientist

  • 2017 Median Pay: $114,520
  • Minimum Degree Level Required: Master’s

Description: Computer and information research scientists are at the forefront of technological advancements and emerging trends. It is pertinent that you are well versed in the guiding theories and principles of computer science and information systems. A large aspect of this position includes gathering and analyzing data in order to resolve issues and improve technology. Although certain government-sponsored jobs require a bachelor’s degree, most employers seek candidates with a master-level education.

Information Technology Manager

  • 2017 Median Pay: $139,220
  • Minimum Degree Level Required: Bachelor’s

Description: “Call the IT guy” is the common response to a computer displaying the dreaded wheel of death or files suddenly disappearing. Being the handyman of the technical world is no easy undertaking. Information Technology (IT) managers oversee the technological activities and goals of an organization or business. They collaborate with stakeholders, educate staff and organize workflow, all of which call for strong aptitudes in leadership and communication. Most companies desire a candidate with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer or information science.

Database Administrator

  • 2017 Median Pay: $87,020
  • Minimum Degree Level Required: Bachelor’s

Description: If you ever wonder who maintains the databases responsible for safeguarding financial information or permitting access to your online accounts, then look no further. Database administrators are proficient in coding, which allows them to create and modify database management systems, as well as implement security measures to protect files from damage or misuse.

Multimedia Artists & Animators

  • 2017 Median Pay: $70,530
  • Minimum Degree Level Required: Associate

Description: For those who are passionate about both technology and the arts, they might consider pursuing work as a multimedia artist and animator. You will create visual effects and animations to be used in video or computer games, movies, commercials and music videos. Knowledge in graphic design and film editing software is vital, as well as a flair for creativity and attention to detail. If this interests you, consider working toward a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics.

10 Ways to Prepare for Your Tech Career

Enrolling in a tech-related degree program and studying hard to pass your classes is imperative to future success. However, there are a number of extracurricular activities and out-of-the-box steps that can be taken to prepare for entry into the professional world and improve chances of landing your dream job.

  • Get Certified

    Organizations such as Linux Academy offer certification courses for CompTIA A+ Technician, Network+ and other technical areas that will put you ahead of the curve.

  • Volunteer

    Help a local business build their website, assist a charity in building their social media or go to an elementary school to share your passion for technology with youth.

  • Enter a Competition

    The BBC Technology Challenge and the MDH Tech Race are just two examples of the hundreds of competitions inspiring participants to show off original ideas.

  • Attend a Conference

    Jump to this article’s resource section to find organizations that can link you to networking and educational events throughout the nation and globe.

  • Subscribe to a Computer Science or IT Journal

    With the world of technology constantly changing it is important to stay updated on emerging trends and groundbreaking research.

  • Join a Club

    Most colleges are host to tech-related student clubs and organizations where you can build a supportive peer community. If not, talk to your department about starting one!

  • Land an Internship

    Take advantage of school resources, scan your community’s job board or submit your resume to nearby companies to track down internship opportunities.

  • Embark on a Personal Side Project

    Design your own website or build a computer! Expert software engineer Drew Cortright notes, “Having a side project while in school will let you try out different programming languages or niches in the field.”

  • Find a Mentor

    Remember the guy who sat next to you in your algorithms class and has since graduated? Reach out to him for guidance as you move through your studies and prepare for the job market.

  • Partake in an Open Source Project

    The open-source movement is a software development model allowing for free collaboration in the modification and use of codes. You don’t need to be an expert to jump on a project!

Expert Q&A

Drew Cortright is a software engineer at Intuit, a financial and tax company in Reno, NV. He works in the payroll division managing internal software. His key responsibility includes creating an experience for employees that empower them to do their best work. This involves ensuring they receive immediate feedback on bugs or new features, communicating across multiple departments and creating software that increases product in a positive way.

1. What degree did you graduate with and why did you choose that path?

I graduated with a degree in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE). I chose this path because I’ve always loved computers and being able to figure out how things work. I love technology and what it’s able to accomplish and I wanted to be a part if this field and help in any way that I can.

2. What are the top 3 skills you learned in your degree program?

The three most useful skills I learned are problem-solving, how to ask the right questions and how to write code.

3. If you could go back in time, what would you have done differently to better prepare for entering the job market?

Side projects, side projects, side projects. Being a college grad you will probably have no experience in the professional world except for maybe an internship. Having side projects on your resume will give it an angelic glow as it passes through the recruiter’s hands. It shows that you are passionate and willing to learn.

4. Which tech-related qualifications do you believe employers find most valuable?

Depending on the job you are applying for, definitely knowing the tech stack is the most important. Second is the skill I listed before, problem-solving. If you can prove to your prospective employer that you can handle any task that may come your way, you are showing them that you will be an important asset to the team. Lastly are having solid communication skills.

5. What do you enjoy most about the technology field?

I enjoy learning, and in the technology field you are learning every day. It moves so fast and it seems like things are changing every week. It’s very exciting to be in a field where newer and better things are being introduced all the time.

Famous People who Studied Tech

Mark Zuckerberg Co-founder and CEO of the social networking site Facebook

In 2017 he received an honorary degree from Harvard University, where he previously studied computer science and psychology

Reed Hastings CEO of Netflix

Master’s degree in computer science from Stanford University

Anita Borg Founder and director for the Institute of Women and Technology

Since passed, her mission was to improve representation of women employed in tech-related careers PhD in computer science from New York University

Masi Oka Japanese-American actor most recognized for his role in NBC’s showHeroes

Degree in computer science and mathematics from Brown University

Larry Page Co-founder of Google, inventor of PageRank and CEO for Alphabet Inc.

PhD in Computer Science

Additional Resource for Technology Majors

  • Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology

    Connects women to a variety of resources, workshops, scholarship options and events, all of which help underrepresented populations succeed in the tech industry

  • Association for Computing Machinery

    Since 1947 this society has been dedicated to maintaining a global conversation surrounding current challenges and ideas within the world of computer science

  • Computer Science Teachers Association

    Extends guidance to K-12 computer science teachers including continuing education opportunities and updated information on current trends

  • Computing Research Association

    Founded in 1972, this association is host to a number of organizations who wish to strengthen computer science, information technology and engineering research

  • IEEE Computer Society

    This volunteer-led organization offers information regarding networking events, technical conferences, professional trainings and scholarships

  • Institution of Engineering and Technology

    Host to a digital library, job board and resources for health/wellbeing, the institute’s goal is to inspire professionals and sustain technological advancement

  • International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology

    Links a range of technology and science-related disciplines to encourage the exchange of ideas and collaborative research

  • National Center for Women & Information Technology

    A non-profit group aiming to improve female representation in the tech industry through education and recruitment efforts

  • STEM Education Coalition

    Works to raise awareness regarding the importance of STEM education in today’s world by reaching out to government entities and other stakeholders

  • Upsilon Pi Epsilon

    This international honor society offers educational, professional and financial opportunities to students demonstrating exceptional academic achievement in tech-related studies