The Highest-Paying
Computer Programming Careers: 2021 List

Overwhelmed by how many coding careers you can pursue? There are hundreds of careers that require computer programming and coding skills. The tech industry is booming, and many careers have high job outlooks and even higher salaries. In this guide, you will find the highest-paying computer programming careers of 2021.

What Is Computer Programming?

Computer programmers use various types of programming languages to write and test code. The code is then used to develop and execute functions for computer programs, websites, and more. The possibilities of writing code are endless, and programmers can manipulate different languages to make a computer perform any task they desire.

Computer Programming Job Outlook and Salary Potential

Most jobs that require programming skills have high job outlooks. For example, software developer jobs will increase by 22 percent between 2019 and 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Software developers earn an average salary of $110,140, which makes it an excellent option.

However, the BLS also reports that the employment of computer programmers is expected to decline nine percent by 2029. While this will make it more difficult to find a job as a computer programmer, it does make pay more competitive. The BLS states that the average salary for computer programmers is $89,190 per year.

At a Glance: Highest-Paying Computer Programming Careers

The highest-paying computer programming jobs can be found in the table below. All of the information in the table was sourced from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and job growth percentages refer to the period between 2019 and 2029.

Job Title Projected Job Growth Median Pay
Computer and Information Systems Manager 10% $151,150
Computer and Information Research Scientist 15% $126,830
Computer Network Architect 5% $116,780
Software Developer 22%* $110,140
Database Administrator 10% $98,860
Computer Systems Analyst 7%** $93,730
Computer Programmer -9% $89,190
Software Engineer 22%* $87,546
Web Developer 8% $77,200
Computer Systems Engineer 7%** $75,535

*Both statistics originate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics report on software developers.
**Both statistics originate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics report on computer systems analysts.

The Best Computer Programming Careers: 2021 List

The Best Computer Programming
Careers: 2021 List

Most of the top-paying computer programming careers of 2021 require a bachelor’s degree, typically in computer science or a related field. However, you can also succeed with a coding bootcamp. Read on to determine which top-paying computer programming career is right for you and your education path.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science

As a computer and information systems manager, you will help oversee all of the computer and technology-related activities of your organization. The employment of computer and information systems managers is expected to grow by 10 percent by 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

You can easily find employment at tech companies, consulting services, and insurance providers. To succeed in this job, you will need to have good business and analytical skills. Most employers look for candidates who also demonstrate the qualities of a good leader, as you will be managing a team.

Min. Education Required: Master’s Degree in Computer Science

Computer and information research scientists study current and emerging technologies. The goal of this research is to find new and innovative uses for existing technology. In this position, you would try to find solutions to a variety of problems using technology. The BLS projects that jobs for computer and information research scientists will grow 15 percent.

You will find open positions in government as well as medical and tech-related industries. A good computer and information research scientist is naturally curious. You will need to be very observant and detail-oriented. Most computer and information research scientists have strong mathematical skills as well.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science

Working as a computer network architect, you would build data communication networks and work closely with an organization to determine its business plan. The data communication networks you build would be following the organization’s business plan and best interests. To be a great computer network architect, you will need to have good general business skills.

Computer network architects are expected to see a five percent increase in employment by 2029. This is slightly faster than average, meaning computer network architects are in demand. You will find most employment opportunities at large companies, telecommunications firms, and the finance and insurance industry.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Computer and Information Technology

Software development is one of the most popular tech careers. In this position, you would be able to design and develop all sorts of computer software. You would work with clients on the creation of both innovative applications and programs for computer systems. If you want an in-demand job, becoming a software developer is the way to go.

As a software developer, you’ll be able to work in retail, healthcare, business, and tech-related industries. Most software developers are naturally creative as well as analytical. To succeed in this job, you will want to be able to generate innovative ideas as well as understand the science behind them.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science or Computer Science

As a database administrator, you would be responsible for the secure storage and organization of data. You would manage and protect databases full of sensitive data about both your company and its customers. To become a database administrator, you should have at least a bachelor’s degree.

You can find database administration positions in the business, finance, and healthcare industries. One of the most important traits a database administrator can have is the ability to solve problems. You will also need to think logically and deductively, as database issues are rarely easy to diagnose.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Computer and Information Technology

Computer systems analysts have the important job of improving and streamlining a business’s computer systems. This involves analyzing current systems and designing innovative solutions to improve those systems. You can find more in-demand job openings at large businesses and in the tech industry.

Working this job is similar to consulting, so you will need to be comfortable suggesting big changes to your employer. Successful computer systems analysts are both assertive and great team players. You will also need to be innovative and able to come up with unique ideas.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Computer and Information Technology

Computer programmers spend their workdays using various programming languages to write and test code. The code is typically used to ensure computer programs, software applications, and even mobile applications can function without issue. The most important trait a computer programmer can have is the ability to concentrate.

Unfortunately, computer programmers are not as in demand as they once were. Employment for this position is expected to drop by nine percent by 2029, according to the BLS. While this makes computer programming jobs more difficult to find, it is a career many enjoy, and it won’t be hard to find work in the industry if you put in the effort.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering

Software engineers perform very similar work to software developers. Rather than working on ideas with clients, engineers would be focused on the actual designing, implementing, testing, and maintenance of software applications and programs. Pulling the same data used for software developers, we can see a high demand for software engineers.

These computer programming professionals are most often found working in healthcare, research and development, and high-tech industries. Software engineers are expected to be more scientifically driven than creative. To ace software engineering job interviews, you’ll need to prove your ability to turn abstract ideas into reality with technology.

Min. Education Required: Associate Degree in Computer Science

As a web developer, you would be creating and performing maintenance on websites. While many web developers branch into web design as well, it is more common to focus simply on the basic functions of the website you create rather than the aesthetic appearance. Web developers work both on their own and with customers.

In such a tech-driven era, the demand for web developers is going up and more companies want a good online presence. The BLS reports that employment in this field is expected to go up by eight percent by 2029, which is double the average rate.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Computer and Information Technology

Computer systems engineers use their knowledge of computer science and information technology to improve business and personal computers. Working this job, you would use your expertise to troubleshoot, implement, and maintain systems for various computers. As a computer systems engineer, you will need to be patient and organized.

Pulling from the same data used to determine the demand of computer systems analysts, we can see an approximate seven percent increase in employment for this career by 2029. You can find work as a computer systems engineer at large businesses and in the tech and transportation industries.

What Education Do I Need to Pursue a Career in Computer Programming?

Most jobs require a bachelor’s degree, though some require higher or lower education than that. There is a wide variety of careers available in computer programming. The education requirement is usually specific to the job you apply for, as employers tend to have different preferences.

If you are uninterested in traditional education, it is quite possible to start a career without a degree. You’ll want to pursue positions in web development and basic computer programming if you choose this path. Some other careers, such as software development, can be achieved with education from the best coding bootcamps rather than college.

For those who are interested in pursuing a college education, you’ll want to pursue a degree in computer science, information science, or a related field. With a bachelor’s degree, most computer programming positions are opened up for you. However, if you earn a master’s or doctoral degree, you’ll earn a higher salary.

Common Entry-Level Computer
Programming Jobs

As stated previously, you can pursue many computer programming careers without a formal education. Many of the jobs listed offer entry-level positions to those with as little as a high school diploma or associate degree. While the salaries below are not nearly as high as other careers, keep in mind that this is just the starting base pay for your future career.

Software Developer

Entry-Level Pay: $63,460

With little to no experience, you can still earn over $63,000 per year as a software developer. You likely will not work on the most complex tasks, but entry-level software development work still involves innovative ideas and creative thinking to design new software.

Mobile Application Developer

Entry-Level Pay: $60,936

Becoming a mobile application developer is a great way to begin your computer programming career. Entry-level positions for this job pay almost $61,000 annually and allow for a lot of creative freedom. Many employers will not require any formal education, and you can even work as a freelance mobile application developer.

Web Developer

Entry-Level Pay: $50,687

While many employers want you to have at least an associate degree to be a web developer, it is not necessarily a requirement. You can earn over $50,000 as an entry-level web developer or work as a freelancer. Freelancing gives you the freedom to choose your own projects.

Web Designer

Entry-Level Pay: $43,695

Web designers earn a bit less at the entry level than web developers do, but if you want more creative freedom, this is the path for you. Focusing on the aesthetic and user interaction aspects of a website, you could begin this job earning well over $43,000 per year.

IT Support Specialist

Entry-Level Pay: $41,406

IT support specialists are always in demand. With opportunities to work in nearly every industry and business, this is a versatile entry-level job to have as you work toward setting your career goals. You’d earn around $41,500 per year when you begin.

Can I Study Computer Programming Online?

Yes, computer programming is one of the easiest subjects to study online. With a wide variety of online colleges, coding bootcamps, and courses to choose from, you will likely find studying online to be preferable for this field. You can even start by learning to code for free.

Studying online offers an array of benefits. The biggest benefit is arguably the flexibility it provides. You can study from your own home, often at your own pace. Online learning also allows you to take more courses than you could with in-person classes, as you do not usually have to commit yourself to be in class for hours at a time.

Should I Pursue a
Computer Programming Job?

Yes, pursuing a job in computer programming is an excellent idea for anyone who has a love for technology. While the job outlook for computer programmers is admittedly not the best, there are many other viable job titles you can pursue that require programming skills.

Many computer programming careers pay well over six figures, offer a stimulating work environment, and require very basic education. It may not be the right career field for everyone, but for those who love innovation and tech, computer programming is a great field filled with lucrative careers.

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