A Guide to the Best-Paying Careers in 2021
Technology is a crucial part of most businesses. With the tech world constantly innovating and expanding, demand for experts in the field continues to rise. If you want to know more about high-paying technology careers with fantastic compensation and benefits, you’ve landed in the right place!
This is a well-curated list of the best-paying professions in technology that will be a helpful guide for beginners, as well as existing tech professionals hoping to upskill. Below you will find information about the highest paying tech jobs, their average salaries, and the skills required to land them.
Highest Paying Tech Jobs in 2021
The tech sector is one of the most lucrative industries, and most tech jobs come with hefty compensation. However, some jobs pay more than others. Below, we have curated a list of the top 10 jobs in technology with the highest average salaries.
Software Engineer Salary: $110,140*
Required Software Engineer Skills:
- Computer programming
- Object-oriented programming
- Software development
- Software debugging
- Knowledge of data structures and algorithms
Software engineers are responsible for all aspects of software development, including design, testing and debugging, and ensuring a high-quality system overall. You’ll find that most software engineers maintain and improve their codebase.
If you have extensive experience in programming languages, you should consider this career path. C++, Java, and Scala are some of the programming languages you should prioritize. You might consider attending a coding bootcamp, gaining a four-year degree in computer science, or attending a trade school to gain high-level skillsets.
Machine Learning Engineer
Machine Learning Engineer Salary: $126,830**
Required Machine Learning Engineer Skills:
- Applied mathematics
- Computer programming
- Machine learning algorithms
- Data modeling
- Neural networks
With the increase in demand for job seekers with extensive skills in artificial intelligence, data science, and machine learning, there are plenty of opportunities to become a machine learning engineer. Often mistaken for data scientists and data analysts, machine learning engineers focus exclusively on developing software for analyzing big data.
You will find that machine learning engineers skillfully develop software capable of analyzing data without human supervision. Being well versed in programming languages such as Python, R, and SQL will set you apart in the industry.
Libraries like NumPy, Matplotlib, and TensorFlow will help you excel in this career path as well. You should look into natural language processing (NLP) if you want to pursue this career path. NLP software is essential for computers to better interpret human language.
Full Stack Developer
Full Stack Developer Salary: $77,200
Required Full Stack Developer Skills:
- Programming languages
- Database management
- Basic design skills
- Knowledge of application program interfaces (APIs)
- Knowledge of version control systems
Proficiency in front end and backend code is required for a career in full stack web development. This job role includes designing web pages, as well as building web servers and databases for web or mobile applications. As a software developer, you’ll work in collaboration with web designers to achieve an excellent user experience.
Note that the skills mentioned above can open up opportunities to become a front end web developer, as well as a mobile developer, software architect, or web designer. It all depends on where your passion lies. However, the highest-paid profession is that of a full stack web developer.
Solutions Architect Salary: $119,826
Required Solutions Architect Skills:
- Cloud development
- Database management
- Business analysis
- Engineering design
These professionals design and manage engineering solutions depending on a business’ needs. Their expertise helps bridge the gap between business problems and technology. They also document requirements and collaborate on the framework.
Often you will find solutions architects being confused with enterprise architects or software architects. Remember, enterprise architects are responsible for developing enterprise ecosystems. They provide the proper strategies to spearhead the business. Software architects develop, implement, maintain and support the software engineering aspects of a project.
Cyber Security Engineer
Cyber Security Engineer Salary: $96,818
Required Cyber Security Engineer Skills:
- Proficiency in coding using Python, Java, Ruby, or C++
- Network architecture
- Virtualization techniques
- Security and encryption technologies
- Penetration testing
There is always a need for professionals with extensive skills in cyber security. Companies hire cyber security engineers to safeguard their customer’s information and troubleshoot security or network problems. They ensure an organization’s data and infrastructure are safe by employing high-security measures.
Cyber security engineers communicate with different departments to report on relevant developments or threats the company is facing. They use this information to plan, implement, manage, and monitor security measures to safeguard the organization’s data and network systems.
Cyber security engineers can work for a variety of industries, such as finance, healthcare, manufacturing, or the government. Top-tier companies in the technology sector such as Google, Apple, General Motors, Microsoft, Boeing, and Netflix also offer opportunities to professionals with cyber security engineering skills. You can easily become a cyber security architect, cyber security manager, or cyber security consultant.
Artificial Intelligence Engineer
Artificial Intelligence Engineer Salary: $126,830**
Required Artificial Intelligence Engineer Skills:
- Linear algebra
- Big data technologies
An artificial intelligence (AI) engineer’s main role is to develop algorithms that ensure the AI functions like a human brain. Through neural networks and machine learning algorithms, these engineers assist businesses in drawing insights to further growth. They retrieve data from multiple sources, utilize machine learning models, and rely on APIs to build applications.
The importance of machine learning and artificial intelligence is undeniable. The need for artificial intelligence engineers cuts across multiple industries. You will find these professionals working in finance, manufacturing, healthcare, and more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for artificial intelligence engineers is projected to grow by 11 percent from 2019 to 2029.
Big Data Engineer
Big Data Engineer Salary: $89,838
Required Big Data Engineer Skills:
- Database systems
- Data engineering
- Machine learning
- Programming languages
- Extract, transform, and load (ETL) tools
- Analytical skills
Once you master real-time data processing and know how to implement large-scale machine learning concepts, you can easily launch your career in technology. Big data engineers deal with large datasets that traditional methods of processing are unable to withstand. Through these engineers, businesses are able to siphon data from different sources for big data solutions.
Big data engineers must be well versed in software engineering to be able to handle big data. Learning Python for big data is a particularly wise decision in this line of work. Knowledge of data warehousing and data engineering will help you maintain, test, and evaluate big data solutions. You should also be skillful in the development, maintenance, and testing of large-scale data processing frameworks.
DevOps Engineer Salary: $110,140*
Required DevOps Engineer Skills:
- Network protocols
- Configuration management
- Programming skills
- Software security
- Knowledge of automation technologies
DevOps, which stands for development and operations, is all about the unification of processes within a company or department. DevOps engineers introduce tools, systems, and methodologies that help keep the different teams involved in the development of a product in sync.
Most tech companies hire these professionals to align the priorities and goals of the software development and IT management teams. The job combines coding with application maintenance and management.
When looking for a DevOps manager, the hiring team will focus on applicants’ knowledge of cloud technologies and their mastery of automation and cloud coding languages. It is important for you to take the initiative and develop a plethora of soft skills for your career advancement. You should be good at problem-solving, collaboration, and have excellent communication skills.
Cyber Security Analyst
Cyber Security Analyst Salary: $103,590
Required Cyber Security Analyst Skills:
- Application design
- Firewall administration
- Reverse engineering
- Penetration testing
Cyber security analysts must have experience in ethical hacking and penetration testing to protect the systems of a company. These professionals conduct thorough assessments and implement solutions in tech systems to curb risks. They have extensive skills in Wireshark, Webroot, Splunk, and SolarWinds.
With data breaches and other cyber threats on the rise, the need for cyber security analysts to design security protocols for their companies is growing exponentially. There are often formal education requirements for this position. You will need to go through hands-on training to develop deep knowledge of the practice.
Other than possessing technical skills, you will need soft skills to navigate the tech environment. Most hiring companies will make sure you pay attention to detail and possess analytical and critical thinking skills.
Cloud Engineers Salary: $91,409
Required Cloud Engineers Skills:
- Information security
- Data security
- Web services and APIs
- Cloud service providers
- Cloud networking
In conjunction with the engineering team, cloud engineers ensure that the development, implementation, optimization, and maintenance of the cloud are up to par. A cloud engineer might work in close conjunction with a cloud architect, network architect, cyber security engineer, or network administrator.
You can’t overlook the importance of having a few soft skills up your sleeve. Strategic thinking is crucial to success in this profession. You will also want to have excellent problem-solving skills and the ability to see problems holistically.
To prove to hiring managers you have the right set of skills, you should consider cloud-based certifications. Some of the main ones are Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certification, IBM Certified Solution Architect, Microsoft Azure Cloud Certification, or CompTIA Cloud+.
*Figure taken from BLS’s stats on software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers
**Figure taken from BLS’s stats on computer and information research scientists
Do You Need a Degree for a High-Paying Tech Job?
No, you don’t need a four-year college degree for high-paying technology jobs. You will find that extensive experience, a strong background in tech, and the ability to work well with a team are the first considerations of hiring managers.
You’ll find that most entry-level jobs in tech companies find bootcamp programs or a trade school education to be enough. However, to increase your annual salary you might want to consider pursuing a four-year degree program or getting certified. The latter is a much more common approach in the tech industry.
Should You Get a Career in Tech?
Yes, you should get a career in tech. Skilled professionals in the technology industry enjoy the perks of working in a rapidly developing field. According to Investopedia, the industry is projected to continue accelerating despite the pandemic. This makes finding entry-level jobs fairly straightforward if you have the passion to try.
Most tech professionals enjoy flexible working hours and can often work from home. The tech field is quite diverse, so you will not be limited to one career path. For instance, once you master programming languages, there will be a plethora of paths you can take. Additionally, there are always opportunities to change careers or advance within the company.
Working in technology is a rewarding way to find your dream job in a field with endless possibilities. Consider joining the tech industry if you want a high salary, plenty of benefits and perks, and the thrill of working for an industry that’s spearheading change on a global scale.