Computer Science

How Much Will You Make With a Master’s in Information Technology?

How Much Will You Make With a Master’s in Information Technology?
You may opt for a more general information technology degree to allow for greater flexibility in the job market or decide you have a specific job in mind that requires a more targeted concentration. Image from https://unsplash.com
Lucy Davies profile
Lucy Davies December 29, 2022

Technological devices are a ubiquitous part of our lives. Looking around the room right now, you'll likely see several devices created and maintained with information technology (IT) support. The demand for experts in IT looms large as well, and those who enter the field can expect to be compensated handsomely.

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Technology is a gargantuan industry and has been growing exponentially for decades. Between Q1 of 2020 and Q1 of 2022, the U.S. sub-industry representing technology (data processing, internet publishing, and other information services) grew by 47 percent. The overall GDP grew only 18 percent during the same period of time.

IT professionals work in nearly every industry, including healthcare, finance, insurance, and manufacturing. As a result, job opportunities for computer systems analysts, software developers, database administrators, and information systems managers are numerous.

The job market has opened up across a broad range of industries for what CompTIA calls the four pillars of an IT framework. These four “bedrock components” of a company’s vision outline IT professionals’ roles in technical operations for small to large firms: infrastructure, development, security, and data. In addition, job opportunities in project management, cybersecurity, software engineering, and computer technology flood business domains outside traditional tech industries—tech is now everyone’s business.

IT jobs are in demand, from entry-level opportunities to managerial and executive positions. The former is attainable with a bachelor’s degree, but higher-level positions may require a graduate degree like a Master of Science in Information Technology. A master’s degree can also further your career path and qualify you for jobs in a higher salary range.

This article answers the question how much will you make with a master’s in information technology? It also discusses:

  • Master’s degrees for IT professionals
  • IT jobs
  • Online IT master’s degrees

Master’s degrees for IT professionals

Indeed.com lists one hundred master’s degrees to consider for information technology jobs, including information management, information systems, computer science, data engineering, software engineering, cybersecurity, and information networks.

Many master’s degrees and certifications are worth pursuing; one may fit your career goals better than others. Payscale.com, Indeed.com, and other sites list job postings with specific and related degrees for job openings, with master’s degrees listed as a frequent requirement from employers. You may opt for a more general information technology degree to allow for greater flexibility in the job market or decide you have a specific job in mind that requires a more targeted concentration.

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IT jobs

Depending on your level of education and years of experience, you’ll find a range of employment opportunities available in IT. Entry-level positions and their average annual pay include IT technician ($51,569), support specialist ($58,536), and quality assurance tester ($65,518).

Bachelor’s degree holders with professional certifications can snag jobs and average salaries in positions like web developer ($67,854), IT security specialist ($71,818), and computer programmer ($73,218). As job descriptions move from support roles like network administrator or systems administrator into information technology management positions, the annual salary range changes, with IT directors making $111,971 per year. Directors and IT management positions usually require master’s degrees, as do positions such as data scientist ($102,312) and computer scientist ($108,521). These higher-level jobs require a deeper understanding of data science, information science, and business strategy, and a few more years of work experience.

Average salary across IT jobs

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) outlines projected growth and percentage of computer and IT jobs held by degree level. The rate of a range of occupations in IT is markedly higher for advanced degree holders over those with a bachelor’s degree, particularly in chief executive and management positions.

Salary ranges demonstrate a step up in pay for master’s degree holders. The national average base salary for bachelor’s degree holders in IT is $74,000 per year while master’s degree holders in IT average $107,000 per year.

(Written by Tom Meltzer)

Information technology covers a lot of ground. A master’s in information technology qualifies you for many different jobs, including those listed below.

  • Chief information officer: A chief information officer (CIO, sometimes called the information technology director) oversees IT resources, including IT staff. The CIO is typically in charge of equipment purchases, devising and enforcing productivity objectives for the IT department, and creating an overarching IT strategy for their employer. According to Payscale, chief information officers earn an average salary of $176,000, supplemented by additional incentives totaling another $65,000.
  • Chief technology officer: A chief technology officer (CTO) oversees a company or organization’s all-encompassing technology strategy. Long-term planning and communicating those plans to the chief executive officer (CEO), chief operating officer (COO), and other critical stakeholders are a big part of a CTO’s job. The CTO also supervises cybersecurity operations, quality assurance processes, production schedules, and technology budgets. Glassdoor reports that chief technology officers earn an average salary of $322,000. Bonuses, profit-sharing, and other incentive payments can add nearly double that amount.
  • Computer and information systems manager: Computer and information systems managers execute on the vision set by the CTO and CIO. They review computer systems with an eye toward opportunities for improvement, install and maintain hardware, and supervise systems analysts, programmers, developers, engineers, and project managers. According to Payscale, computer and information systems managers earn an average salary of $92,850, plus another $8,000 in incentive pay.
  • Computer forensic investigator: Computer forensic investigators (sometimes called cybercrime investigators) work with law enforcement to combat online theft and fraud. They also assist in investigative work focused on cyberbullies, security breaches, and any criminal conspiracies that might be captured on a criminal’s computer. According to Payscale, computer forensic investigators earn approximately $78,000 in salary plus another $13,000 in incentives.
  • Computer systems analyst: A computer systems analyst studies computer systems to find conflicts, inefficiencies, and possible opportunities for optimization. They recommend improvements and upgrades, factoring in cost, ease of use, and difficulty of reconfiguration in determining whether changes are worthwhile. US News & World Report fixes the average computer systems analyst salary at $102,840.
  • Data scientist: As a data scientist, you will gather and evaluate massive data sets to solve business problems, forecast future trends, and develop strategies. This is a job requiring plenty of smarts as well as mastery of mathematics, statistics, analytics, software applications, and computer science. According to LinkedIn, data scientists earn a median salary of $108,020.
  • Information security analyst: Information security analysts police networks for security flaws, install software to protect networks, consult with leadership on cybersecurity strategy, and assist end users with cybersecurity-related issues. This is a fast-growing field; the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 32 percent growth in jobs between 2022 and 2032. According to the BLS, information security analysts earn an average of $120,360 per year.
  • IT manager: An IT manager makes sure that a business’ network is secure, optimized, and up-to-date. The IT manager oversees help desk operations to solve end-user issues, and often initiates contact with third-party vendors when it’s time to purchase or upgrade equipment. According to Payscale, IT managers earn an average annual salary of $93,533, with the potential for another $14,000 in incentives.
  • IT audit manager: In larger operations, the work of IT managers may be subdivided into specific functions. An IT audit manager conducts system audits to ensure that everything is operating as expected; that new software and hardware are compatible with existing assets; and that IT staff are properly trained in managing any issues that might arise from a network’s configuration. Salary.com reports that an information technology audit manager earns between $122,000 and $180,000 annually.
  • IT risk manager: As the job title indicates, an IT risk manager focuses on potential risks to an operation’s computer system. The IT risk manager identifies risks presented both by system components (e.g., potential hardware or software conflicts) and by user error or flawed protocols. Should a security breach occur, the IT risk manager is responsible for defending against and shutting down the attack. IT risk managers also oversee insurance claims when failures result in insurable losses. According to Payscale, IT risk managers receive an average salary of $117,832, plus an additional $15,000 in incentives.
  • Network administrator: A network administrator maintains computer networks. Among their responsibilities are installing and configuring networks, troubleshooting networks, customizing networks to a customer’s specific needs, upgrading hardware and software within the network, and managing the network budget. According to Indeed, network administrators earn an average salary of $81,608.
  • Network architect: Network architects design and build the systems that allow those on a computer network to communicate and share work. They constantly assess the network to determine where improvements would be beneficial, and they consult with the CTO and other leaders to plot an operation’s tech strategy going forward. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, network architects earn an average annual income of $129,840.
  • Project manager: In IT, pretty much any task that requires the work of multiple people over multiple days is called a project. That project needs a project manager: someone to assign roles and make sure the jobs get done; to create and enforce deadlines for various milestones and benchmarks; and, to ensure that the whole thing gets done within budgetary constraints. An effective project manager needs great organizational skills, the soft skills necessary to motivate team members, and enough knowledge of all the processes in a project to anticipate and prevent delays and cost overruns. According to Glassdoor, IT project managers earn an average base salary of $156,000.
  • Software developer: Software developers write code for software applications. They participate in the design, execution, testing, and maintenance of software projects that function properly across multiple platforms and adhere to cybersecurity best practices. Because software development is a team effort, this job requires not only significant coding skills but also excellent communication skills. According to the BLS, a software developer earns an average annual income of $130,160.

Remember that calculating an average salary means considering a few variables. For example, the median wage for any job title in the IT industry is calculated differently by region and cost of living considerations. Also, consider the years of experience required when researching pay. This number can impact income as much as degree level or certifications.

Highest-paying IT jobs

Some of the highest-paying IT jobs have titles like CIO and CTO, but not all executive-level salaries are paid out to the C-suite.

Chief information officer and chief technology officer are two top titles for computer and information systems managers, who take home a median annual wage of $169,510, with top salaries paying $208,000 per year. These IT managers help pair business strategy with IT project planning to meet projected goals. Computer and information research scientists make an annual median wage of $125,000, and computer network architects make $129,000 on average, with the top ten percent earning $168,890 per year. Both positions research new technologies and emerging trends and their impact on business strategy. Software developers ($130,160) and security analysts ($112,000) also rank as top paying IT positions.

Lowest-paying IT jobs

Lower-paying entry-level IT jobs can be a good way to make a start in the wide world of information technology. Job titles include computer programmer ($99,000), web developer ($65,000), computer network support specialist ($53,049), and network administrator ($122,000). Professionals with salaries below the six-figure mark can often boost pay with added certifications and training in information technology programs.

IT jobs for candidates with a master’s degree

For those who have completed their master’s level degree program training, salaries tend to be higher. The BLS reports that master’s degree holders make more on average than workers without an advanced degree, and while many positions won’t require one, many top roles will.

Senior software engineers make an average of $127,000 per year with the highest paid positions making as much as $162,000 per year. IT directors can make up to $181,000 per year, with an average base salary of $126,000 per year. These professionals guide tech decisions and translate business needs into tech-based solutions. Top positions with these responsibilities also include IT vice presidents (VPs), who can make over $159,000 per year.

Online IT master’s degrees

IT students can earn their master’s degrees without interrupting a career in progress. Online and hybrid master’s degree programs provide working professionals with great flexibility by offering synchronous and asynchronous classes, rolling start dates, full and part-time schedules, and short-term on-campus immersion experiences. These flexible options are helping to increase the popularity of online degrees.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the top online graduate degree programs in information technology can be found at:

  • Boston University
  • Florida State University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • New York University
  • Stevens Institute of Technology
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Massachusetts – Lowell
  • University of Southern California
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • West Texas A & M University

(Last Updated on July 8, 2024)

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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