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Types of careers in information technology

Information technology (IT) offers many opportunities for individuals with varying skill sets and interests. From software development to cybersecurity, database administration to cloud computing, the field of IT encompasses diverse roles that cater to a wide range of talents and preferences. In the UK, certain IT career paths stand out as particularly lucrative and in high demand. Employers are keen to hire for tech roles in:

Software development: software developers are the architects behind the digital solutions that power our modern world. They design, code, and maintain applications and systems across various platforms. With the rise of mobile applications, web development, and enterprise software, skilled software developers are consistently in demand. Those proficient in languages like Java, Python, and JavaScript often command high salaries and enjoy abundant job opportunities.

Cyber security: in an era dominated by digital threats and data breaches, cyber security professionals play a crucial role in safeguarding sensitive information and protecting digital infrastructure. With the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks, organisations across industries are prioritising cyber security measures. Careers in cyber security encompass roles such as ethical hackers, security analysts, and information security managers. Professionals with expertise in threat detection, risk assessment, and compliance regulations are highly sought-after and well-compensated.

Data science and analytics: data has become the lifeblood of modern businesses, driving strategic decision-making and innovation. Data scientists and analysts are responsible for extracting actionable insights from vast datasets, utilising techniques such as machine learning, statistical analysis, and data visualisation. As companies strive to harness the power of big data, the demand for skilled data professionals continues to soar. Industries like finance, healthcare, and e-commerce are particularly fertile ground for data-driven careers.

Cloud computing: the shift towards cloud computing has revolutionised the way organisations manage and deploy IT resources. Cloud architects, engineers, and administrators are instrumental in designing, implementing, and maintaining cloud infrastructure and services. With the adoption of cloud technologies accelerating across businesses of all sizes, professionals with expertise in platforms like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud are highly valued. As more companies migrate their operations to the cloud, opportunities in cloud computing are expected to remain abundant.

While each of these IT career paths offers its own rewards and opportunities for growth, determining the most lucrative and in-demand field can be subjective and influenced by various factors such as market trends, industry demand, and individual skill sets. However, cyber security and data science are consistently highlighted as areas experiencing rapid growth and facing significant talent shortages, making them particularly promising fields for aspiring IT professionals. By staying abreast of industry trends, acquiring relevant certifications, and honing their skills, individuals can position themselves for success in the dynamic and rewarding realm of IT.

Top paying information technology jobs in 2024

London, Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh are known for their vibrant IT job markets, and there are many high-paying opportunities in finance, healthcare, and consulting sectors. It's also worth considering emerging tech hubs like Cambridge and Reading, where companies like ARM and Oracle have a presence.

Network security manager

Network security managers play a critical role in safeguarding organisations' digital assets and infrastructure from cyber threats. They oversee the design, implementation, and maintenance of security measures to protect networks, systems, and data. This includes conducting risk assessments, developing security policies and procedures, and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements such as GDPR and ISO 27001.

Network security managers also lead incident response efforts, investigating breaches and mitigating their impact. They stay abreast of emerging threats and technologies to continually enhance the organisation’s security posture.

Additionally, they collaborate with other IT teams and stakeholders to ensure a holistic approach to security across the business. Effective communication and leadership skills are essential for educating employees about security best practices and fostering a culture of cyber security awareness.

In IT & cyber security, network security managers can earn an average salary of £81,600. In Northern Ireland, the role pays £64,900; in London, £75,500; and in Wales, £70,500.

Cyber security manager

Cyber security managers oversee the development, implementation, and maintenance of security policies, protocols, and procedures within an organisation. This involves assessing risks, identifying vulnerabilities, and devising strategies to mitigate potential breaches. They lead teams responsible for monitoring network activity, detecting and responding to incidents, and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards such as GDPR. Additionally, they stay abreast of emerging threats and technologies, continually updating security measures to stay ahead of cybercriminals.

Collaboration with IT teams, senior management, and other stakeholders is essential to align security initiatives with business objectives. In summary, a cyber security manager is a key figure in protecting against cyberattacks, maintaining trust with customers, and preserving the integrity of the organisation's digital infrastructure.

A top job in the field, cyber security managers, earn an average £77,200 nationally, with the role paying around £62,900 in Scotland; £68,100 in the north of England; and £70,700 in the Midlands and east.

Information security manager

An information security manager typically requires a combination of technical skills, qualifications, and managerial abilities.

A strong understanding of information security principles, practices, and technologies are paramount, as well as proficiency in risk management, threat intelligence, and vulnerability assessment.

A knowledge of regulatory compliance standards such as GDPR and ISO 27001 will be expected, as will the ability to assess and mitigate security risks across various technologies and platforms.

Soft skills include excellent communication and interpersonal skills, leadership and team management skills to oversee security personnel and projects, and problem-solving and decision-making abilities to address security incidents and challenges effectively.

Overall, an information security manager plays a crucial role in safeguarding an organisation's information assets and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations and standards in the UK.

Information security managers can earn an average salary of £75,600 in 2024. In the south of England, this equates to £71,600; in Scotland £76,700; and in London, £86,600. Pay is set to climb for this role, as for much of the security field, with predictions of £79,300 in 2025.

Solution architect

Solution architects bridge the gap between business needs and technical solutions. They collaborate closely with stakeholders, understanding business requirements, constraints, and objectives. Their primary responsibility is to design comprehensive, scalable, and efficient solutions that align with the organisation's goals and technology standards. This involves analysing existing systems, identifying areas for improvement, and proposing innovative solutions.

Solution architects must have a deep understanding of various technologies, architectures, and industry best practices to make informed decisions. They often lead cross-functional teams, providing technical guidance, overseeing implementation, and ensuring that the final solution meets quality standards and regulatory requirements. Effective communication and stakeholder management are essential as solution architects navigate complex projects, balancing technical feasibility with business outcomes. Ultimately, their contributions drive the successful delivery of projects and the overall competitiveness of the organisation in the dynamic UK market.

The highest paying job in development and testing is a solution architect, earning an average national salary of £100,700 – which is predicted to rise to £105,800 by 2025.

Regionally, this role commands £113,300 in London; £89,000 in the Midlands and east; and 102,100 in Scotland.

Cloud architect

Cloud architects design, implement, and maintain cloud infrastructure solutions for businesses. They analyse IT needs, assess existing systems, and formulate cloud strategies aligned with business objectives. This involves selecting suitable cloud platforms (such as AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud) and designing scalable, secure, and cost-effective architectures. They collaborate with stakeholders to understand requirements and translate them into technical specifications. Cloud architects also oversee migration processes, ensuring seamless transitions to the cloud while optimising performance and minimising disruptions. They stay updated on emerging technologies and industry best practices to continually enhance cloud environments. They also play a key role in governance, ensuring compliance with regulatory standards and implementing robust security measures to protect data and infrastructure. They are instrumental in driving innovation and efficiency through cloud technology adoption.

Within intrastructure and support, cloud architects are the top earners this year, on an average national salary of £98,400. In the Midlands and east, the job pays an average £79,200; £95,200 in the south; and £78,100 in Wales.

Security architect

Security architects safeguard digital assets and information systems against threats and vulnerabilities. They design, implement, and oversee security measures to protect an organisation's infrastructure, networks, and data from unauthorized access, breaches, and cyberattacks. Security architects assess security needs, develop comprehensive security strategies, and design robust security solutions tailored to mitigate risks effectively. They collaborate with various stakeholders, including IT teams, executives, and third-party vendors, to ensure alignment with business objectives and regulatory requirements. They stay abreast of emerging threats and technologies, continuously evaluating and refining security policies and practices to maintain resilience in the face of evolving cyber threats.

‘Architects’ also feature in the IT and cyber security arena’s top 10 earners – with security architects on a national average of £115,700. In London, the role pays an average £127,200; in Scotland £117,400 and in the north of England, £101,100. By 2025, this role is expected to creep up to £121,400 – illustrating the ongoing importance of this work in the battle to keep companies and their data safe.

Data architect

On that note, data architects nationally can earn an average £96,900 this year. This role pays £70,300 in Northern Ireland, £76,900 in Wales and £119,000 in London.

Data architects design, organise and manage data systems to meet the needs of businesses and organisations. They collaborate with stakeholders to understand data requirements and design data models, databases, and data flows. Data architects ensure data integrity, security, and compliance with regulations like GDPR. They also oversee the implementation of data management solutions, including data warehouses, data lakes, and ETL processes.

They analyse existing data infrastructure and propose improvements to optimise performance and efficiency. They stay updated on emerging technologies and trends in data management to recommend innovative solutions. Overall, their role is instrumental in enabling data-driven decision-making and supporting the strategic objectives of the organisation.

Application security engineer

In the same department, application security engineer roles are equally sought after, with salaries averaging £93,600 nationally – and also set to rise to £98,900 by 2025. Regionally, this role currently pays an average £77,900 in the Midlands and east; £78,400 in the north, and £84,500 in the south of England.

Application security engineers are responsible for safeguarding software applications from potential threats and vulnerabilities. They assess, design, implement, and maintain security measures to protect applications throughout their lifecycle. This involves conducting security assessments, identifying weaknesses, and devising strategies to mitigate risks. They collaborate closely with software developers, ensuring that security protocols are integrated into the development process.

Communication skills are vital as they often liaise with various teams to educate on security practices and respond to security incidents. They may also contribute to the development of security policies and procedures to ensure compliance with regulatory standards and industry guidelines. Overall, their role is crucial in maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of digital assets in an increasingly interconnected world.

Program manager

In transformation projects and change, program managers oversee the execution of multiple related projects to achieve strategic business goals. Their role involves strategic planning, stakeholder management, resource allocation, and risk mitigation. They coordinate with project managers, ensuring alignment with organisational objectives and monitoring progress to ensure projects stay on track, and also act as a bridge between upper management and project teams, providing updates on progress and addressing any issues or concerns.

They must possess strong leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills to effectively manage complex programs. Additionally, they often play a role in budget management, quality control, and evaluation of project outcomes. The role is ultimately responsible for delivering successful outcomes that drive organisational growth and success.

Program managers are also highly paid, on an average national salary of £104,600. Regionally, this equates to £89,700 in the Midlands and east; £93,300 in the north of England; and £87,800 in the south.

Release manager

In the same sphere, release managers can earn an average national salary of £84,500. In London, the role commands £103,800; in Scotland £94,200; and in the south of England, £76,300 – with another national rise forecast for 2025 to £88,900.

Release managers oversee the smooth and efficient release of software updates or new products. They collaborate closely with development, quality assurance, and operations teams to plan, coordinate, and execute release activities. This includes scheduling release timelines, managing dependencies, and ensuring proper testing and validation processes are followed.

Release managers also handle communication with stakeholders, including customers and internal teams, to provide updates on release progress and manage expectations. They are responsible for mitigating risks associated with releases, such as identifying and resolving conflicts or issues that may arise during deployment. They often maintain release documentation and implement release management best practices to improve the overall efficiency and reliability of the release process.

To find your dream role in the tech sector, contact our specialist consultants. Download our free Technology salary guide 2024 to help benchmark salaries or see what you could, or should, be earning this year. The guide also provides insight into the benefits professionals most value.