(BPT) - The career outlook for technology professionals remains highly promising. With so many emerging employment opportunities, The White House announced the TechHire initiative in March to encourage American cities to offer training to prepare the workforce for careers in growing tech fields.
The United States has about five million open jobs today, which is more than at any point since 2001. Over half a million of those job openings are in information technology fields like software development, network administration and cybersecurity, many of which did not exist just a decade ago.
As an added incentive for Americans to pursue tech careers, the average salary in a job that requires information technology (IT) skills - whether in manufacturing, advertising, retail or banking - is 50 percent higher than the average private-sector American job.
'Our information technology students today are enthusiastic about the future job,' says Dr. Rajin Koonjbearry, professor and cyber security expert at DeVry University. 'Not only are traditional IT careers standing out, but increasing private information online calls for cyber security experts to help companies protect against threats.'
Here are some of the most valuable tech specializations and degree programs available to career seekers today:
1. Cyber Security
Cyber security has been listed by The World Economic Forum as one of the top five global risks in terms of likelihood, and has been ranked as a top concern in federal chief information officer surveys. The White House even released an executive order aimed at improving critical infrastructure cybersecurity.
Demand for cyber security professionals continues to rise, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a 37 percent increase in information security analyst jobs through 2022.
To meet this demand, colleges and universities are starting to offer degrees in cyber security. In May, DeVry University unveiled a new Cyber Security Programming specialization within its Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems program, available on campus or online in select states.
The program includes Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) preparation and exam facilitation, a key credential employers may require in hiring cyber security professionals that has been accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
2. Health Information Systems
Another fast-growing tech specialization is in health information systems. The North American healthcare technology market is predicted to grow significantly to more than $31 billion by 2017, up from approximately $22 billion in 2012, according to Research and Markets' North American Healthcare IT Market Report.
Demand for health informatics specialists is partly driven by the growing complexity of healthcare operations, government initiatives to promote IT in hospitals and the shift toward paperless billing and payment environments.
Students who earn a bachelor's degree in computer information systems can pursue professional certification as a Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management (CAHIMS) to show employers their knowledge and skills.
3. Systems Analysis and Integration
Computer systems analysts play a vital role in researching, planning and recommending software and systems that best meet an organization's business requirements. These analysts combine their knowledge of information technology and business to manage the organization's overall computer system - from designing and developing new systems to helping networks run more efficiently and effectively.
According to a new market report, the global market for system integration is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 11 percent from 2014 to 2020. Following graduation, students who want to stand out from the competition can pursue a post-baccalaureate certificate in Information Systems and Management.
4. Web Development and Administration
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects about 20 percent employment growth for Web developers by 2022. During that period, about 28,500 new jobs will need to be filled in an industry that already has roughly 141,400 positions.
The expansion of e-commerce is expected to fuel this high job growth in the coming decade. Companies need web developers who can design webpage layout and solve code problems, help expand their online retail presence and safeguard the site and end users' privacy.
Given the high job growth rates expected in these four areas, bachelor's degree candidates are increasingly looking for programs that meet their future career aspirations. A specialized degree, especially when paired with a professional certification valued by employers, can open doors to a rewarding career.