How an IS Degree Affects Job Promotions and Pay Raises

Jan 16, 2013
  |  by Jennifer Cook

More and more students are getting serious about their career plans early on, looking at their salary prospects for the various career choices they have in front of them. In-demand careers in accounting, business and IT sport attractive salary growth and career prospects. In particular, those with information technology training have weathered the recession a lot better than other sectors of the economy, and IT jobs have recovered much faster than other careers. A master’s in information systems promises significant earnings potential and a career path that could take you all the way to the corner office. Let’s look at what paths IS grads can expect to take, and how an IS degree can affect how much they earn over their careers.

What Career Paths Are Open to Information Systems Grads?

The IT sector is filled with opportunities for those with the highly technical skills it takes to manage information security systems, maintain the technological assets of corporate office environments and help develop software applications that make the tech world run. Some of these jobs require or prefer a master’s degree rather than a bachelor’s, but it requirements differ between firms; sometimes experience is more important than how much education you have. Let’s look at the projected 2013 salary breakdown.

Jobs you can get with a bachelors in information systems:

·       IS Security Manager ($108,000 - $150,000)

·       Help Desk Manager ($73,000 - $104,000)

·       Business Systems Analyst ($71,000 - $103,000)

·       IT Auditor ($86,000 - $119, 750)

·       Software Developer ($64,000 - $115,000)

Experience counts for a lot in the IT field, where specialized skills are in such demand that your proven ability to do the job could make the difference, even if you don’t have an advanced graduate degree. But for some positions, those with a bachelor’s rather than a master’s degree will reach a limit to where their degree can take them.

A master’s degree, along with relevant experience in your field, can often be the key to breaking through that promotional ceiling and moving into a more senior position, or even becoming a company executive. For instance, you can get your bachelor’s in information systems, and then go forward with a MBA degree to help enhance your management potential. Only about one in four information systems grads go on to get a master’s.

Jobs that may require a masters in information systems:

·       Chief Information Officer ($145,000 - $235,000)

·       Chief Security Officer ($120,000 - $179,000)

·       Applications Architect ($104,000 - $140,000)

·       Product Manager

Pay Differences between Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees

In reality, it can be hard to pin down actual earnings differences when between what you’ll earn with an advanced graduate degree over an undergraduate; a lot depends on your career path, experience and even your ability to negotiate a better salary. But there are statistics that help us get a good idea of what you can expect to earn if you do go on to get that master’s degree.

According to a report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, the difference in median IT earning between the 25th- and 75th- percentile groups is around $40,000 a year. The earnings boost you get from a master’s in information systems is around 22 percent according that study. The rest of that salary difference is based on experience and performance. So you can see that gaining a master’s degree definitely pays off in the salary difference.

The payoff for that graduate level education also pays off more over time. The growth the median salary for most IT degrees hovers anywhere between 4 and 6 percent year-over-year from 2012 to 2013, though some high-demand careers are even higher. Those percentages really translate into high dollar amounts at the high-salary end, even if the actual percentage is smaller once you hit the top jobs. And that doesn’t include the other incentives, like stock options and bonuses that managers and executives enjoy.

Clearly, moving into a high-growth IT career at a time when those skills are in short supply will help you plot out a lucrative and satisfying career path. Those with more education and relevant experience will really see it pay off in salary and potential promotions. In few other careers is the old adage “Education Pays” more dramatic.


Author bio: Jennifer Cook writes on student life, going back to school and online learning technology for When she isn't writing, you can track her down in the library, trying to check out more books than her card allows.



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