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20 Top Career Paths for Tech Geeks: Which One Is Right for You?

Mark Fairlie
Mark Fairlie
business.com Contributing Writer
Updated Jan 23, 2023

If you love technology and data, these are the careers for you.

From developing computer games to building secure financial transaction platforms, tech skills are currently in high demand. Even better, there is an ongoing and chronic national shortage of talent, which has resulted in tech job salaries jumping 14% in some cities this year, according to the Dice Tech Salary Report.

Let’s look at the tech jobs that pay the highest salaries first. Then we’ll cover the best ways to get your first foot on the job ladder.

20 top-paying tech jobs in America right now

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Here are the top 20 top-paying tech jobs in America. Find out below for each role what a newcomer makes, the estimated average salary and what you could make after building up your skills and experience.

Job Title

Entry

Average

Experienced

Blockchain engineer

$130,000

$156,000

$200,000

DevOps manager

$130,000

$154,000

$190,000

Artificial intelligence engineer

$120,000

$150,000

$190,000

Cloud architect

$130,000

$150,000

$185,000

Data architect

$120,000

$143,000

$180,000

Computer network architect

$135,000

$135,000

$170,000

Video game developer

$98,000

$127,500

$200,000

Technical lead

$100,000

$127,000

$165,000

Cybersecurity specialist

$107,000

$127,000

$148,000

Data scientist

$100,000

$126,000

$170,000

Ruby on Rails developer

$104,000

$125,000

$165,000

Data modeler

$94,000

$125,000

$159,000

Python developer

$100,000

$122,000

$155,000

Computer hardware engineer

$87,500

$120,000

$216,000

Agile project manager

$100,000

$117,000

$143,000

C developers

$94,000

$115,000

$150,000

Artificial intelligence specialist

$75,000

$115,000

$191,000

Mobile application developer

$96,000

$115,000

$140,000

Interaction designer

$90,000

$112,500

$151,500

Full-stack developer

$93,000

$111,000

$145,000

Salary information from Talent.com.

Bottom LineBottom Line: Tech sector jobs pay much higher than the national average. Coding and programming have steep learning curves, but stick with it and you might discover a natural aptitude for them. There are free online tools available to teach you the basics of coding – start there.

20 best careers for technology geeks

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So what do you need to know to do the top 20 paying tech jobs in our list above? Find out why people in these roles are sought after, what type of work you’d be doing, and the skills you’d need to have.

20. Full-stack developer

Full-stackers are not experts in a single field of coding. They do, however, have a working knowledge of programming languages used in servers, browsers and databases. This allows them to work across teams at all project stages, from initial planning and prototyping right through to deployment. 

Employers want full-stack developers to have experience in responsive web design, Apache, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Java, SASS, jQuery, PHP, frameworks, PHP, Python, MySQL and Ruby.

Average salary: $111,000

19. Interaction designer

Interaction designers find ways to make websites and apps easier to use. People are more likely to develop loyalty to apps that make it easy to find information and obtain services. An example of a famous interaction designer is Aza Raskin. He created the infinite scroll originally seen on social media platforms that is now widely used on many news and current affairs sites.

Programming languages interaction designers need include jQuery, HTML CSS, JavaScript, Git, GitHub, and frameworks.

Average salary: $112,500

18. Mobile application developer

It’s much easier to check your bank balance or order from Amazon on an app. You can do both on a web browser, but it takes much longer.

Companies know their customers want the convenience of apps. They rely on mobile application developers to create apps that customers rely on to give them a competitive advantage.

Mobile app developers need experience in UX/UI and mobile programming skills as a minimum.

Average salary: $115,000

Did you know? You can create an app for your business without the need of a developer. Check out our reviews of the best app maker and development solutions on the market.

17. Artificial intelligence specialist

Artificial intelligence and machine learning help companies improve efficiency and reduce waste.

AI specialists adapt available technology to deliver these outcomes. To do this, they need to marry their expertise in AI & ML with a deep understanding of the business they work for.

Employers look for someone with a high level of expertise in software development, information security and related fields together with a deep understanding of IT hardware limitations.

Average salary: $115,000

16. C developers

C and C++ developers write code and create .NET solutions that allow desktop software to operate. 

Among their responsibilities are the design, development and testing of new app features and maintaining, debugging and improving existing code.

In addition to C and C++ efficiency, most employers want Node.js, Go, Python and Java proficiency. An understanding of Lint, Valgrind, Git, Mercurial and SVN is also desirable.

Average salary: $115,000

15. Agile project manager

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Agile companies don’t focus on bringing a static finished product to market. Instead, they focus on launching a minimum viable product (MVP) after which it gets regular and rolling updates and upgrades throughout its lifetime.

Agile project managers don’t do any programming or coding themselves. Their role is to drive their people and teams toward initial product launch and post-launch updates and upgrades. Agile project managers are great problem solvers and natural managers, and they have experience in delivering projects on time and within budget.

Average salary: $117,000

14. Computer hardware engineer

Computer hardware engineers design, develop and supervise the production of computer hardware, including circuit boards, chips, printers, modems and keyboards. 

They’re like electronic engineers whose expertise is computer technology. They also supervise the manufacturing process and get involved in projects to create prototypes of new hardware and supervise manufacturing.

Average salary: $120,000

13. Python developer

Python is a popular programming language used in software, database and web development to create workflows and connect databases.

Most python developer job roles require experience in jQuery, JavaScript, Django, CSS, HTML, Git and GitHub.

Average salary: $122,000

12. Data modeler

Data modelers extract and interpret useful and actionable information to help senior management teams with decision-making.

Their major skill is the ability to be able to see beyond the chaos of unstructured and seemingly unrelated data to find value. Data modelers need vision and creativity.

As well as being able to demonstrate high-level thinking on a practical and conceptual basis, you’ll need a solid grounding in information science to become a data modeler.

Average salary: $125,000

11. Ruby on Rails developer

Developers use Ruby on Rails to create web apps, e-commerce sites and content management systems. Ruby on Rails developers build the front end (what visitors see) and the back end (the code powering the website and app).

Employers expect Ruby on Rails developers to have knowledge of JS libraries, SQL, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Git and GitHub.

Average salary: $125,000

10. Data scientist

Data scientists help senior management find and interpret relevant data to guide future business strategies.

To do this, you need to identify the information that will be most useful to your management team through your deep understanding of the business and its goals. You then use your analytic skills to help the data make sense to C-suite and board team members.

Average salary: $126,000

9. Cybersecurity specialist

Cybersecurity specialists help companies develop technological defenses to protect sensitive information and IT equipment from attack. They also identify gaps in staff knowledge, create training to plug them and make sure trainees implement what they learned.

You’ll need experience in running cybersecurity risk assessments. up-to-date knowledge of existing and emerging threats and experience in creating and monitoring cybersecurity policies for other companies.

Average salary: $127,000

8. Technical lead

Like agile project managers (15 on the list), technical leaders need great leadership and team-building abilities. But they also need to be experienced programmers.

The primary role of a technical lead is to steer a project to completion by bringing together the skills of different programmers and teams. But your programming expertise and insights will be needed throughout the project. You’ll also have to manage the project budget and bring in outside expertise when required.

Average salary: $127,000

7. Video game developer

graphic of a man in front of a computer next to a large video came controller

Developers create video games for consoles, computers, smartphones, tablets and television sets. Demand for gaming is at an all-time high.

The games we play are developed by teams that have their own distinct responsibilities. They must work together on tasks ranging from visual appearance and gameplay quality to debugging. 

You’ll need experience using game creation platforms and programming languages to become a video game developer. Employers also look for creativity, a team player and the ability to work within tight deadlines.

Average salary: $127,500

6. Computer network architect

Computer network architects design, build and maintain communications networks like LANs and WANs.

They create blueprints for new networks and upgrade hardware in existing networks as they evolve. Architects also make sure that their company’s communications infrastructure meets staff and customer expectations now and in the future.

You’ll need an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) or engineering-related degree and experience as a network and computer system admin in a working environment. Some employers may require you to have an MBA.

Average salary: $135,000

5. Data architect

Data architects are responsible for planning how companies capture and use data to achieve their strategic goals through data design.

You’ll also be in charge of building and managing the databases as well as decommissioning older databases and archiving the data they store.

To be considered for the role, most employers look for a problem solver with Oracle and SQL expertise and previous experience as a data analyst or scientist.

Average salary: $143,000

4. Cloud architect

Cloud computing has grown in popularity in the last 10 years because of the storage and processing power it offers to companies. Cloud architects design, create and implement the technical and security infrastructure needed that clouds need to work.

For this role, you’ll need experience working with AWS, Azure or GCP and knowledge of emerging cloud technologies like serverless, containers, APIs and DevSecOps. [Related article: Azure vs AWS cloud comparison.]

Average salary: $150,000

3. Artificial intelligence engineer

Often working on plans laid out by AI specialists (17 on our list), AI engineers’ day-to-day work is programming and achieving the deliverables on a project.

For this role, you’ll need knowledge in software development, data science and data engineering, among other things.

Average salary: $150,000

2. DevOps manager

DevOps managers provide project leadership to development, operations and quality assurance teams.

In addition to creating apps and software, you’ll work on a range of tasks spanning from change management to problem management (identifying and managing issues with IT).

The best DevOps managers can see the challenges they’re working on through the eyes of the people they lead as well as the limitations of any tools they use. They’re also great team builders and communicators.

Average salary: $154,000

1. Blockchain engineer

Blockchains are ledgers that store information related to transactions. They were originally created to track the trading of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Blockchain engineers design, develop, implement and maintain blockchains and their operating protocols.

Blockchain engineers need an in-depth knowledge of the purpose and operation of blockchains. They also need to be proficient in programming languages like Java, Golang, C++ and Solidity.

Average salary: $156,000

FYIFYI: Companies are finding applications outside financial record keeping for blockchain. Blockchain is already impacting digital marketing on how marketers collect and use data.

Tips for scoring a tech job

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It’s true there’s a shortage of tech talent in America right now. But employers still want the best they can find, especially with the salaries they’re offering. This means that you’ve got to put the effort in to find the vacancies and still do your best at the interview.

Here are five ways to help you land your first job in tech:

  • Get some experience with a company. Many companies are reluctant to offer people their first IT role but you should keep applying. If you find one that says “yes,” this makes getting the next job easier.
  • Create a personal portfolio site. Build a website telling others about your skills and experiences. The more practical examples you can share of your work and how you overcame problems, the more recruiters will understand what you have to offer.
  • Only apply to jobs you think you’d like. If you apply for and get a job which needs different skills than the ones you have or want to develop, you may find your career getting stuck in a rut early on.
  • Tailor your resume to the role. Find out as much about the company you’re applying to and what the job requires. Show how you can help them achieve their goals in your resume.
  • Get busy on LinkedIn. Create a LinkedIn profile and start promoting yourself. Join groups of like-minded people with the same skillset as you. Share your thoughts, experiences and solutions with others so that you can build up your personal online brand.

Last of all, persist. You’re In a job seekers’ market. You can afford to be choosy. Keep improving your skills and you’ll get there. 

Additional reporting by Deb Dey.

Image Credit: Fotoinfot/Shutterstock
Mark Fairlie
Mark Fairlie
business.com Contributing Writer
business.comb.
Mark Fairlie has written extensively on business finance, business development, M&A, accounting, tax, cybersecurity, sales and marketing, SEO, investments, and more for clients across the world for the past five years. Prior to that, Mark owned one of the largest independent managed B2B email and telephone outsourcing companies in the UK prior to selling up in 2015.