States with the highest-paid IT specialists

Sam Fried

IT specialists have a wide range of career options to choose from within their chosen field. They can become network support specialists or user support specialists, and a day of work can range from detecting suspicious network activity to helping computer users with their hard drives. But depending on where […]

IT specialists have a wide range of career options to choose from within their chosen field. They can become network support specialists or user support specialists, and a day of work can range from detecting suspicious network activity to helping computer users with their hard drives.

But depending on where IT specialists live in the United States, their career prospects could vary widely, particularly on the matter of salary. Perhaps most surprisingly, many of the states with the highest-paid IT specialists are those with lower costs of living. This has the added benefit for those pursuing careers in IT in these states that their dollars will stretch further, making the career potentially all the more attractive. Many of the states with the highest-paid IT specialists are also outside of coastal and tech hubs where they may be more common, meaning the supply of IT professionals may be low, driving up wages.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also increased the need and demand for fully remote work, and a field like IT lends itself to remote work. This means workers may be working across state lines, should their companies and the workers be comfortable with tax and labor laws varying state to state. This also extends to wage minimums, health care requirements, workers’ compensation, and more. Since IT specialists will have the opportunity to work for companies in different states, this may inevitably affect compensation state by state as remote work culture continues to become more popular around the country.

Twingate used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) from May 2020 to rank the highest-paying states for IT specialists by estimated average annual wages, including the statistics for the total estimated employment of specialists in the state. This data was taken from two specific occupations as categorized by the BLS: computer network support specialists and computer user support specialists, which are the subcategories for computer support specialists, according to BLS occupation codes. Nationally, the profession has 823,770 employees, with $28.73 as an average hourly wage, and $59,749.63 as an average annual wage.

  • Average annual wage: $45,000
  • Average hourly wage: $21.64
  • Total employment: 1,850

There are a wealth of educational opportunities for South Dakotans looking to become IT specialists. Southeast Technical College is a particularly good option, as it requires only two years of training, and offers over 70 different specialities for students to choose from. Living in South Dakota is also less expensive than the national average, which means that salaries in the state go further than they might elsewhere.

  • Average annual wage: $47,905
  • Average hourly wage: $23.03
  • Total employment: 4,990

Walmart is one of the largest employers in the state of Arkansas. What’s more, for those looking to become IT specialists in the state who are already employed by Walmart, there’s great news: the company has a program that pays for students to attend school, including for IT degrees.

  • Average annual wage: $49,910
  • Average hourly wage: $23.99
  • Total employment: 8,140

Although a university degree is typically the way to gain access to jobs in IT, the state of Kansas offers another option. An innovative program through the state’s Chamber of Commerce allows residents to receive on-the-job training for such positions.

  • Average annual wage: $50,640
  • Average hourly wage: $24.35
  • Total employment: 4,310

The state of New Mexico has an apprenticeship for IT specialists. Those wishing to earn while they learn can opt between training as a computer support specialist, network support technician, and other IT-related careers.

  • Average annual wage: $50,955
  • Average hourly wage: $24.50
  • Total employment: 2,490

The University of Montana offers a number of IT courses. Among these are network defense, software assurance, and cloud systems, meaning graduates will enter the workforce well-equipped to serve as IT specialists.

  • Average annual wage: $52,970
  • Average hourly wage: $25.47
  • Total employment: 4,240

Those in Idaho looking to become an IT specialist may wish to consider Boise State University’s College of Engineering. The school has a wide variety of courses in computer science and engineering that may help those in the state with their sites set on IT achieve the proper accreditation.

  • Average annual wage: $53,045
  • Average hourly wage: $25.51
  • Total employment: 3,030

In a bid to encourage more of its citizens to work in technology, the state of West Virginia has opened the West Virginia Office of Technology. In addition to helping others achieve their IT goals elsewhere, the office also has its own career opportunities for IT specialists.

  • Average annual wage: $54,430
  • Average hourly wage: $26.17
  • Total employment: 12,970

For those in Tennessee who don’t want to go to college to get the proper IT specialist training, the state has another option. Apprentice TN offers the opportunity to learn how to be an IT specialist while receiving on-the-job training—and a paycheck.

  • Average annual wage: $54,935
  • Average hourly wage: $26.41
  • Total employment: 7,650

Upper Iowa University touts itself as an excellent place for aspiring IT professionals to learn. The school emphasizes that professors have real-world experience in the field, potentially making it that much easier for graduates to land jobs.

  • Average annual wage: $55,365
  • Average hourly wage: $26.62
  • Total employment: 8,700

Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College offers degrees in computer science and information technology. The program is very focused on the real-world application of skills and forecasts that IT jobs in the state will only increase in the future.

  • Average annual wage: $55,525
  • Average hourly wage: $26.70
  • Total employment: 13,270

Ivy Tech Community College offers a unique subset of IT in its specialized program. The school offers students the opportunity to become a “certified ethical hacker,” helping organizations find weaknesses in their IT and fix them.

  • Average annual wage: $55,535
  • Average hourly wage: $26.70
  • Total employment: 5,550

The University of Nebraska Kearney focuses on turning out well-rounded IT professionals. The school requires each of its graduates to pick up a minor or secondary focus, meaning that employment prospects will likely widen as students gain more skills and perspectives within the field of IT.

  • Average annual wage: $55,570
  • Average hourly wage: $26.72
  • Total employment: 1,070

The state of Wyoming has recently made considerable investments in increasing student interest in careers in IT. The Department of Education has sponsored career fairs focused on the sector, and sponsored many relevant initiatives in the state’s universities and community colleges.

  • Average annual wage: $55,605
  • Average hourly wage: $26.74
  • Total employment: 1,590

Vermonters looking to work in IT have one of the world’s biggest technology companies on their doorsteps. Located near Burlington, International Business Machines Corporation is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of semiconductor technology.

  • Average annual wage: $55,825
  • Average hourly wage: $26.84
  • Total employment: 23,570

Fittingly, given the subject matter, students in Arizona who want to become IT specialists can do so online. Arizona State Online offers a full degree in IT, with a range of classes including programming and cloud-based software.

  • Average annual wage: $55,870
  • Average hourly wage: $26.86
  • Total employment: 4,420

Louisiana’s economy revolves around the oil and gas industries. Therefore, IT professionals in the state may have a chance to apply their skills in the sector, working with oil and gas companies to protect their engineering and technical infrastructure.

  • Average annual wage: $56,515
  • Average hourly wage: $27.17
  • Total employment: 8,520

Oklahoma has a number of Fortune 500 companies that IT graduates tend to work in. These companies include Apple, UnitedHealthGroup, AT&T, and Verizon.

  • Average annual wage: $56,915
  • Average hourly wage: $27.36
  • Total employment: 21,550

Detroit has long been the center of the American automotive industry, and after several difficult decades is once again a booming city. IT grads can go work at a car manufacturer or elsewhere in the city or state, and can also take advantage of Michigan’s low cost of living relative to the rest of the country.

  • Average annual wage: $57,265
  • Average hourly wage: $27.53
  • Total employment: 7,910

Those with an equal interest in IT and serving the government may especially flourish in Alabama. The state is a hub for government and military offices, which are some of the largest employers in the state, making it a particularly attractive home for those committed to their computers and working for the military.

  • Average annual wage: $57,265
  • Average hourly wage: $27.53
  • Total employment: 19,190

Experts in cloud computing and data management are in particularly high demand in Missouri. IT specialists should have their pick of employers, between AT&T, Honeywell, Boeing, and many others that call the Show-Me state home.

  • Average annual wage: $57,735
  • Average hourly wage: $27.76
  • Total employment: 11,590

The state of Utah is abundant in listings for technology jobs, and the state is committed to getting them filled. Officials have actively invested in training for anyone in the state who wants to become an IT specialist and fill an open role.

  • Average annual wage: $58,020
  • Average hourly wage: $27.90
  • Total employment: 11,040

The technology sector has a $13 billion economic impact on the state of South Carolina. Those with the proper qualifications to become IT professionals can look to find work at the likes of Boeing, BMW, and other major international companies.

  • Average annual wage: $58,340
  • Average hourly wage: $28.05
  • Total employment: 2,630

Maine’s Center for Workforce Research and Information projects that IT jobs will have the second-highest growth rate of any sector in coming years—second only to health care. The state has numerous programs and initiatives dedicated to helping people obtain the necessary qualifications, including Project>Login, which helps facilitate enrollment in programs that lead to IT degrees.

  • Average annual wage: $58,345
  • Average hourly wage: $28.05
  • Total employment: 1,980

Among the fastest-growing industries in North Dakota are mining and logging. These are two industries that require active IT support, providing a good opportunity for those who like computers, but also the prospect of helping those who are working the land.

  • Average annual wage: $58,400
  • Average hourly wage: $28.08
  • Total employment: 29,640

Ohio’s job market is thriving, partially thanks to its reputation as a low-cost place to do business. Those with IT qualifications will have a range of companies to consider when planning their careers and should enjoy their salary dollars going further with the state’s low cost of living.

This story originally appeared on Twingate and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

States with the highest-paid IT specialists

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