5 top-paying IT jobs for every stage of tech careers

Whether you're entry level, mid-level or C-level, CIO.com has you covered as we identify the highest-paying IT roles in each of those three categories.

highest paying it jobs

5 Top-Paying IT Jobs for Every Stage of Tech Careers

Demand for highly skilled IT workers isn't slowing down - research, managed services and staffing firm Upp reports that the unemployment rate for IT careers is hovering under 4 percent in every U.S. state, well below unemployment rates for other industries. But some hot, in-demand roles pay more than others.

Using data from research and compensation benchmarking provider PayScale's databases, we've put together the top five highest-paying IT roles for every career stage -- whether you're just starting your IT career, have a few years of experience under your belt or are moving into the C-suite.

Compensation data is median pay based on total cash compensation (TCC). Median pay is the 50th percentile - half of workers doing the job are paid more, half are paid less. TCC combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions and other forms of cash earnings. It does not include stock, retirement benefits or the value of healthcare benefits, for example.

highest paying entry level it roles

5 Highest Paid Entry-Level Roles

If you're just getting started in your IT career, consider these five IT roles. Not only are they in high demand, the compensation's highly competitive for these entry-level positions. For our purposes, entry-level is defined as having zero to five years of experience in all applicable jobs in the field, not just the current job.

business intellignce architect

Business Intelligence Architect

The primary responsibility of the business intelligence architect is data standards and procedures; warehousing; design and development of logical and physical data models and databases; distributed data management; information management functions.

The business intelligence architect designs, develops and enforces standards and architecture for installing, configuring and using business intelligence applications for the purpose of directing and managing the organization. The role usually requires a bachelor's degree and at least some experience in a BI role.

Median Pay: $81,200

asic design engineer

ASIC Design Engineer

The role produces application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) designs and modifications by identifying design objectives and issues; researching and developing ASIC engineering techniques and approaches; verifying and validating designs; maintaining documentation; and mentoring team members, if applicable.

The role usually requires a bachelor's degree and experience with general ASIC designs, concepts and usage.

Median Pay: $83,300

solutions architect

Solutions Architect

While the title might seem vague, a solutions architect (SA) plays a key role in the software development lifecycle: in the conversion of the product, application or solution requirements taken from the business or customer into an architecture and design that will become the blueprint for the solution being created. This conversion is based largely upon the previous design patterns that the solutions architect has been involved with in the past through reading and staying abreast of the latest techniques, or through personal experience.

The role requires a bachelor's degree or equivalent experience.

Median Pay: $91,500

software architect

Software Architect

A software architect (SA) is responsible for the initial design and development of new software or extensive software revisions. The software architect defines product requirements and creates high-level architectural specifications, ensuring feasibility, functionality and integration with existing systems/platforms for internal use or for customers.

The role requires a bachelor's degree and, while still considered an entry level position, a solutions architect may be expected to have an advanced degree in area of specialty and may manage or guide other developers through the project to completion.

Median Pay: $94,100

data scientist it

Data Scientist, IT

Also known as "the sexiest job in IT," a data scientist's role is to use predictive analytics and machine learning experience to extract insight and actionable information from a firm's data stores. The role is fairly new and still evolving, but requires a bachelor's degree and at least familiarity with data mining, structured data modeling and predictive analytics.

Median Pay: $97,600

mid level it roles

5 Highest Paid Mid-Level Roles

You've paid your dues in entry level jobs and you're looking to move up the ladder. Well, hopefully one of these lucrative and high-demand roles is in your career path.

A mid-level role is defined as having five to 10 years of experience in all applicable jobs in the field, not just the current job.

principal software engineer

Principal Software Engineer

Principal software engineers are in charge of most of the technical aspects of an organization's software projects. Their primary function is scaling software projects efficiently while maximizing performance and minimizing costs. They also oversee development teams and coordinate strategies to make sure the technologies are interconnected and product lines are working smoothly. Principal software engineers focus on best practices and standards of design, application requirements and proper maintenance. Engineers in this role often manage teams of developers.

A bachelor's degree in computer science is usually the minimum educational requirement, although a (CSDP) Certified Software Development Professional certification along with hands-on experience in a previous position is also generally accepted.

Median Pay: $133,000

data scientist mid level

Data Scientist, IT

The role so nice, it appears on our list twice. As stated before, a data scientist's role is to use predictive analytics and machine learning experience to extract insight and actionable information from a firm's data stores. In a mid-level role, data scientists could be required to have software engineering experience, as well as higher-level strategic thinking and communication skills to more accurately make the case for business action based on the results generated by machine learning algorithms and insight gained from data mining.

The role is fairly new and still evolving, but requires a bachelor's degree and extensive experience with software development, data mining, structured data modeling and predictive analytics.

Median Pay: $134,000

scrum coach

Scrum Coach

The scrum coach role teaches and coaches all agile software development best practices and Scrum adoption to an IT organization or an agile development environment. Ideally, a scrum coach will have extensive experience with an agile development environment and will use his or her broad experience to help businesses adopt best practices as related to an agile framework.

Most scrum coaches have a bachelor's degree and experience in software development, engineering or architecture. While there is a specific scrum coach certification, experience and previous demonstrable success is most often used as criteria for hiring.

Median Pay: $151,000

principal software architect

Principal Software Architect

A principal software architect is tasked with identifying and evaluating software product requirements and their limitations to make sure solutions will work within larger business system functions. Principal software architects solicit the input of users, solution sponsors and executives to make sure the software meets the requirements, vision and needs of the business and customers; they work to drive innovation and research into new methods and technologies and also help position overall IT department and software development strategy.

The principal software architect role requires a bachelor's degree, as well as proven "soft skills" like business analysis, research skills, communications and negotiation skills.

Median Pay: $151,000

chief architect it

Chief Architect, IT

The chief architect role is one that's highly political and complex, and the job description varies widely from company to company. That said, there are some commonalities; the chief architect of IT must understand all aspects of a business' processes, infrastructure, applications and initiatives - in other words, the entire organization's IT blueprint. They are then tasked with ensuring that every part of the business operates in sync with these strategic IT initiatives.

The role requires a bachelor's degree and extensive technical and "soft skills" experience, and often reports directly to the CIO.

Median Pay: $155,000

senior executive roles

5 Highest Paid Senior and Executive Roles

Ah, senior management - this is where all your hard work and political maneuvering pays off, literally. Senior and executive roles not only come with big responsibility, in the IT field, they also come with big paychecks.

Senior and executive roles are defined has having more than 10 years of experience in all applicable jobs, not just the current job, and include only management, senior and executive-level roles.

Senior Manager/Director of IT

Project Management Director, IT

An IT project management director supervises and governs all corporate IT projects. The role is responsible for all aspects of project management direction, including reviewing proposals, determining costs, timelines, funding, identifying sponsors, setting and maintaining staffing requirements, and making sure goals and objectives are met. Professionals in this role are also likely to oversee project managers and their teams.

The role requires a bachelor's degree and requires not only technical skills, but also a degree of creativity, problem-solving, negotiation and management skills.

Median Pay: $142,000

business intelligence director

Business Intelligence Director

The business intelligence director is responsible for developing and maintaining an organization's business intelligence reporting frameworks, tools and data stores. The role works cross-functionally with various business unit heads to determine their reporting and analytics needs and determines how best to meet them given constrains of time, budget and staffing. The business intelligence director is also charged with making sure that information is delivered on time and is of high quality - making sure business has the necessary data for ongoing daily operations as well as forward-looking strategy and competitive data.

A bachelor's degree is necessary, but in some instances an advanced degree in a related field is required.

Median Pay: $143,000

senior computer scientist

Senior Computer Scientist

Computer scientists often work as part of a research team with computer programmers, mechanical or electrical engineers, and other IT professionals. Their role leans more toward the theoretical than the practical - their research often is used to design new technology in areas like artificial intelligence, robotics or virtual reality. Computer scientists are also tasked with improving performance of existing computer systems and software as well as the development of new hardware or computing techniques and materials.

Most computer scientists hold a bachelor's degree with a major in computer science, information systems or software engineering, but at this senior level, many hold a Ph.D. in computer science, computer engineering or a similar field.

Median Pay: $145,000

vice president it

Vice President, IT

The vice president of IT is responsible for strategizing and planning an organization's IT future, as well as implementing new technology and maintaining current systems. The vice president of IT also ensures teams are effectively supporting maximum uptime and stability in the company's computer systems and networks. The essence of the role is technology leadership, and the vice president of IT must use both technical skills and soft skills - leadership, communication, negotiation and analysis - to lead an IT focused business successfully.

In many organizations, the vice president of IT role is a stepping stone to the CIO position. Most companies require a master's degree in computer science or IT, while some organizations require an MBA, since extensive business knowledge is critical to the role.

Median Pay: $157,000

vice president ecommerce

Vice President, Ecommerce

The vice president of ecommerce is responsible for all of a business' ecommerce activities, including channel development strategies, Web architecture and infrastructure requirements, and collaboration with IT, sales, supply chain and operations teams to successfully execute on e-commerce business strategies. The vice president of ecommerce must have extensive experience with ecommerce concepts, best practices, processes and strategies, as well as excellent communications, negotiations and strategic planning skills.

The role requires a bachelor's degree and, at many organizations, a minimum of 15 years of experience in the field.

Median Pay: $164,000