5 Top-Paying Jobs in Software Development

An image of a software logo for our FAQ on 5 Top Paying Jobs in Software Development

Top 5 Highest-Paying Careers in Software Development

  • Computer and Information Systems Manager
  • Data Scientist
  • Computer Network Architect
  • Software Developer
  • Information Security Analyst

The most recent software developments in the technology industry have paved the way for some of the highest-paying jobs in software development. From artificial intelligence to information systems and security, top positions for software developers are fascinating and highly rewarding. With strong computer science and programming skills required, workers in the modern workforce can expect to earn excellent salaries and have plenty of potential for advancement. As computer technology continues to improve, the job market will evolve, providing new opportunities for highly skilled professionals.

1. Computer and Information Systems Manager

One of the fastest-growing and highest-paying careers in software development and computer and information technology is computer and information systems management. In this field, computer and information systems managers are responsible for managing computer-related activities and projects within an organization. In some organizations, computer and information systems managers go by different names, such as chief information officer (CIO), chief technology officer (CTO), or IT director or manager. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports 461,000 jobs held by computer and information systems managers. BLS indicates that 22% of those workers were employed by the computer systems design industry. Other large employers for this occupation are the information industry and finance and insurance industries.

Earnings potential

Computer and information systems managers earn the highest wage on our list of top-paying jobs in software development. Wages are especially high for this role since the job entails mostly management and overseeing teams within an organization. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for this occupation is $151,150. However, the highest 10% of individuals working in this role earned more than $208,000 per year.

Education required

Computer and information systems managers must hold at least a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology, engineering technology, software development, or some other closely related discipline. Many organizations prefer that their top-level managers hold a graduate degree. A MBA is one of the most common master’s degrees for top executives, but many working in computer and information systems have a computer-related degree.

Job outlook

A favorable job outlook is projected for computer and information systems managers through 2029, as reported by BLS. The employment growth is much faster than the average for all occupations, even those in the computer and software development industries. As firms increase and expand their operations to digital platforms, the demand for information systems managers will increase. Also, with an increase in the popularity of cloud computing and the need to bolster cybersecurity, demand for this occupation will increase.

An image of a data scientist for our FAQ on the 5 Top Paying Jobs in Software Development

2. Data Scientist

Data science is a subfield of computer science that uses machine learning, statistics, and mathematics to analyze large sets of data for trends and information about human behavior, population health, climate, markets, and other complex systems. Advanced artificial intelligence software is used to analyze data sets that are too vast and complex for anyone to analyze without the aid of a computer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of data science is expected to grow significantly over the next 10 years. Further details about the projected employment growth are listed below.

Also, individuals in this occupation held about 32,700 jobs, as reported by BLS. The largest employer for this occupation is the federal government, excluding postal service, which employs about 28% of all data scientists. Other top employers include computer systems design and related services, which employs 19% of all data scientists, and research and development in the engineering, life, and physical sciences, which employs 16%. Software publishers and colleges and universities are also listed by BLS among the largest employers of data scientists.

Earnings potential

Data scientists should expect an annual wage of $126,830, on average, according to the BLS reporting on the median pay for computer and information research scientists. The highest 10% of earners in this occupation made $194,430. However, certain top-paying industries, such as software publishers and research and development of engineering and life sciences report a median annual wage of approximately $143,000 per year.

Education required

Most data scientists hold master’s degrees in computer science or a closely related discipline. Those working in specialized fields of data research and science may hold undergraduate degrees in other disciplines like biology, biomedicine, or chemistry. Some employers prefer to hire candidates for data scientist positions who have a Ph.D. This is especially true when dealing with federal government roles.

Job outlook

Data scientists should see a highly favorable job outlook over the next eight years, according to BLS. In fact, employment growth is projected at 15%, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Rapid growth is expected in data collection by businesses and organizations. The growth will lead to an increased need for data-mining services. Also, as new and innovative ways are sought after to prevent cyberattacks, a growing emphasis will be placed on cybersecurity. This emphasis will result in a demand for data scientists.

3. Computer Network Architect

Computer network architects are responsible for designing and building data communication networks that range from small connections between offices to expansive infrastructure that serves multiple customers. Computer network architects are often referred to as network engineers. In this capacity, network engineers design and deploy computer, information, and software networks.

Earnings potential

According to BLS, the median annual wage for computer network architects is $116,780. The lowest 10% of earners make around $67,000, while the highest 10% earn more than $175,000 per year. Top-paying industries for this occupation include insurance carriers and related activities, computer systems design, management of companies and enterprises, telecommunications, and educational services. Within the insurance carrier industry, computer network architects earn a median annual wage of $121,730.

Education required

You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, information systems, or a related discipline to work as a computer network architect. Some employers prefer to hire candidates that hold a master’s degree in a computer-related field or a MBA in information systems. Most MBA programs take two years to complete following undergraduate studies. In a MBA program with an information systems concentration, students take both business and computer-related courses.

Job outlook

While not as favorable as some of the other top-paying jobs in software development on our list, employment of computer network architects is still faster than the average for all occupations. In fact, BLS reports a five percent anticipated growth for this occupation. Demand should increase as firms expand their IT networks and adopt cloud computing. However, job prospects will be especially favorable for individuals with specialized hardware and software knowledge.

An image of a software developer for our FAQ on the 5 Top Paying Jobs in Software Development

4. Software Developer

Of the top-paying careers in software development, it should come as no surprise that software developers make the cut. Software developers are responsible for designing computer applications or programs. They work as testers, quality assurance specialists, and developers in various industries, from manufacturing to software publishing. Often, individuals working in this role create diagrams that help programmers write computer code needed to operate applications and programs. Depending on the role, software developers may lead teams and oversee projects. Software developers hold about 1.5 million jobs. The largest employer, accounting for 33% of all software developer jobs, is computer systems design. Manufacturing accounts for 11% and software publishers account for nine percent of all software developer jobs.

Earnings potential

According to BLS, a six-figure earnings potential is common for software developers. In fact, the median annual wage for this occupation is just over $110,000, with the highest 10% of earners bringing in over $170,000. BLS reports five top-paying industries for software developers. Of the five top-paying industries, two industries offer a median annual wage well above the average for this occupation. The top two highest-paying industries for software developers are software publishing ($124,050 in median annual wages) and manufacturing ($119,280).

Education required

To become a software developer, a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology, or a closely related discipline, is needed. However, some employers prefer to hire software developers with an advanced degree. While a bachelor’s degree is required for entry-level positions, candidates may obtain their four-year degree in fields other than computer science. In fact, many software developers hold degrees in engineering and mathematics.

Job outlook

One of the best job outlooks on our list is that of the software developer. BLS reports employment of software developers is projected to grow 22% though 2029. This growth is much faster than the average for all other occupations, even for those in software development and information technology. A need for new applications on smart devices will drive the demand for software developers. Also, an increase in the number of products that utilize software will drive demand for this occupation. Individuals who stay on top of new technological developments and software applications will see the best job prospects.

5. Information Security Analyst

Another top-paying job in software development is the role of an information security analyst. Individuals working in this role plan and administer security measures to protect a company’s computer networks and systems. Information security analysts usually work for computer companies, business and financial institutions, or consulting firms. As of 2019, there were approximately 131,000 jobs for information security analysts. The largest employer for this occupation was computer systems design, where approximately one-fourth of all information security analysts worked.

An image of software developers for our FAQ on the 5 Top Paying Jobs in Software Development

Earnings potential

According to BLS, the median annual wage for information security analysts is $103,590. The lowest 10% of individuals in this role earn less than $60,060, while the highest 10% earn more than $163,000. Pay, along with job outlook, drives individuals to this career path. BLS also reports five top-paying industries for this occupation. According to the most recent data published, the information industry offers a median annual wage of $107,310 for information security analysts, making it the top-paying industry for this occupation. The second-highest-paying industry is finance and insurance, where information security analysts earn an average pay of $106,430. Other top-paying industries include computer systems design, management of companies and enterprises, and administrative and support services.

Education required

Qualifications to work as a software developer include a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field of study. Most employers hiring information security analysts require, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information assurance, programming, or software development. However, some employers may require a master’s degree, such as a MBA in information systems. In addition to degree completion, information security analysts may need to be certified and validated in an area of knowledge. General information security certificates, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), showcase areas of specialty.

Job outlook

The job outlook for information security analysts is the most favorable on our list. BLS reports a 31% growth in employment for this occupation, which is much faster than the average over all occupations. Demand will be exceptionally high over the next decade, due to the need for creative and innovative solutions to prevent cyberattacks and hackers from stealing sensitive information. In computer systems design industry, an even more favorable employment growth is expected. BLS expects employment of information security analysts in computer systems design and related services to grow 56% through 2029. Demand will be driven by the rise in cybersecurity threats and the increasing adoption of cloud services. Candidates seeking employment will have the best job prospects if experience is acquired in database security and other specialized areas of computer security.

Software developments being made in the tech sector are opening the door for new types of jobs in computer programming and application design. As indicated above, careers in this field tend to be high-paying, so it can be very rewarding to pursue jobs in software development.

BDP Staff
July 2021

Related articles:

This concludes our article on the 5 top-paying jobs in software development.

Brenda Rufener
Author

Julie McCaulley
Expert

Carrie Sealey-Morris
Editor-in-Chief