Career opportunities for information technology — also known as IT — and computer systems specialists have increased over the 20-year span ending in 2010-11, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As virtually every business, organization and household has computers and networks, IT professionals are in high demand, and colleges across the country provide training programs for future computer specialists. There are various areas of specialization, common career titles and countless working environments available. With so many options, the starting salary for jobs in computer information systems can vary greatly.
Computer information systems salary trends often attract people to these positions. If you feel comfortable with computers and want to learn more, you may want to pursue a degree in this area. The industry offers professionals challenging work, handsome salaries and incredible growth. If this sounds interesting to you, learn what factors affect the entry-level salaries in this field.
CIS is a broad term for work that involves computers and information exchanges. As a CIS professional, you may work with local networks, databases, information security, servers or big data. Some of these professionals develop software that helps computers connect.
These professionals almost always work in offices and often during typical work hours. You may report to the organization's chief technology officer. You can help colleagues troubleshoot IT issues, propose technological solutions, or consult with clients.
Whether you have a CIS associates degree, bachelor's or master's, you can often find positions to fit your level of education. Naturally, the more college education you have, the better you can expect your starting salary to be.
Graduates with associate degrees in CIS earn an average of $59,000 per year. If you earn a bachelor's degree in the same field, the average income moves to $73,000 per year. Candidates with master's degrees take home a mean of $86,000 annually, which means that half earn more and half earn less. Each of these numbers reflects the overall average for that level of education.
Depending on your degree and interests, you can work for a technology company as a systems analyst, information security specialist, network engineer or systems administrator. Each of these professionals reports to a manager.
Many graduates also work as database architects, administrators, developers and analysts. Entry-level CIS professionals can also work in non-IT companies as tech support professionals. You can also choose to work in software development and specialize in certain types of software. Some CIS professionals work in schools, government agencies and nonprofit organizations.
In addition to education and experience, location drastically affects how much a CIS professional earns. For example, the average software developer in the country makes $69,950. However, the same professionals in Seattle, Washington earn about $89,000 annually.
Areas with increased average wages also tend to have higher costs of living. You should carefully balance how much you earn with the housing, food and health care costs of an area.
Years of Experience
At every education level, a graduate can earn a different CIS salary based on her experience level. Understanding this gradual increase in salary can help you decide what level of education you should achieve to meet your goals.
CIS professionals with associate degrees and one to four years of experience earn about $49,948 per year. These professionals see little increase in the average until they reach 10-to-19 years of experience. At that point, the average is $68,573.
Bachelor's graduates with less than one year of experience earn about $51,182 per year. Between one and four years on the job, that median salary increases to $56,848. By the time these professionals hit five-to-nine years of experience, they earn over $70,000 and after 10-to-19 years, the average increases to over $90,000.
CIS professionals with graduate degrees start at an average of $56,000 in the first year. The salary increases to $69,723 with one to four years of experience. The mean surpasses $80,000 at five-to-nine years and goes above six figures when the professionals reach 10-to-19 years of experience.
If you recently graduated from a CIS program or will in the near future, you may wonder what your career will look like. Once you get a few years of experience at an entry-level job, you can move up either within your company or elsewhere. A few tips and tricks can help you stand out from the crowd and land your dream job.
First, you can get some DIY experience on your own time. Tinker around with areas that interest you or offer your services pro bono to your favorite local charity. These experiences help you build a portfolio that can take the place of paid experience on your resumé.
Consider earning certifications from professional organizations. You can choose specific, high-demand areas like network security or get broader certifications. These credentials help set you apart and show how serious you are about your work.
Job Growth Trend
As people rely more on computers for daily life in business and at home, the need for computer information system professionals continues to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 13-percent growth rate in the field between 2016 and 2026. This growth rate is about twice the national average for all careers.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Computer and Information Systems Managers Wages, May 2009
- Payscale: Associate's Degree, Computer Information Systems (CIS) Degree
- Payscale: Master of Science (MS), Computer Information Systems (CIS) Degree
- Payscale: Bachelor of Science (BS / BSc), Computer Information Systems (CIS) Degree
- Payscale: Software Developer in Seattle Salary
- Payscale: Average Software Developer Salary
- Rasmussen: 6 Ways to Gain the IT Experience Employers Are Looking For