Developer, Network Architect, Help Support Make List of Best Careers for 2011

Every year, U.S News & World Report releases an unranked list of 50 "high opportunity" careers for the upcoming year. In this year's "50 Best Careers" list, released Monday, four IT-related jobs made the cut: computer software engineer, computer support specialist, computer systems analyst and network architect.

  • Network architect. U.S. News & Word Report says that the "the forecast could hardly be better for network architects," citing projected growth of almost 54 percent by 2018 (although the actual numbers are for the more generalized categories of computer scientists combined with database administrators). According to the report, the average salary for this position is $73,250, with the top 10 percent earning $116,000 and bottom averaging $43,000.
  • Computer software engineers (a.k.a. developers and programmers) also made the 2011 list. According to the magazine, it is one of the "fastest-growing corners of the job market," with expected growth of 32 percent by 2018, according to the Labor Department, with a median salary range of $87,480 to $93,470. The magazine cites long hours and tight deadlines as drawbacks, but also says that the career is more likely to offer telecommuting options, and offers vertical moves into project management and software architecture.
  • Computer systems analyst is described by the magazine as such: "It's your job to create computer systems that give companies the tools to run their'll determine what hardware and software is necessary and do plenty of problem solving to ensure that the system works." According to the report, 108,000 jobs will be added for this position in the next decade, with a pay range in 2009 from $47,000 to $119,000, and averaging $77,000.
  • Finally, computer support specialist (a.k.a. help desk) once again was named a top job, with job growth projected at 14 percent, although the magazine notes that "outsourcing of jobs to offshore locations weighs on this growth projection." Average wages reported were $44,000 in 2009. One expert the company interviewed called it "an incredibly good entry-level job," with excellent upward mobility opportunities.

Other technology jobs recommended by the report include hydrologist, civil engineer, biomedical engineer and environmental science technician.

The magazine's complete list of Best Jobs for 2011 can be found online here.

We want to know what you think! Are these really the best IT careers to get into, and are you seeing the growth/opportunities U.S News & World Report says is out there? Are the difficulties in the IT job market that we've been hearing from our readers starting to lift, or are these growth projections not connected to the reality you're seeing? Would you recommend your career to others? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the executive editor of the 1105 Redmond Media Group's Web sites, including,, and, among others.

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Reader Comments:

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Tue, Dec 14, 2010 Large Network Manager Florida

Salary ranges seen very broad. I don't know anyone in the 6 figure territory. After 30 years, I'm close, but most are much closer to the low end. I do not recomend young people get into the IT field unless they want to be a developer or a Security person. Improved hardware and network technologies will wipe out most high end jobs in those areas.

Thu, Dec 9, 2010 RealInIT NorCal

I am currently upgrading my certifications to MCITP-E, Net+, & Sec+ and I'd really like to believe there will be an opening somewhere for this old seadog! I'm not looking for the biggest paycheck anymore, the tight schedules and long hours are not worth the money to me. When your family grows up and you missed all the important points, well, money just doesn't replace them. So, just my 2c worth! Rock On!!!

Thu, Dec 9, 2010 Developer PA

Here's one Systems Analyst who isn't even close to the $77K median salary. Is it because of the CA affect where people are ridiculously overpaid?

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