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20 Most Employable Degrees in Tech 2015

Best Tech Degrees 2015

While many popular majors prepare students for job titles that would be familiar to their parents and grandparents (teacher, engineer, physician's assistant, etc.), jobs like network administrator, software QA specialist, and database manager are all products of our informatics age. And high demand in these new fields might explain why computer and technology majors top the list of degrees providing the biggest "bang for your buck" to students looking to maximize the value of their learning investment.

Recently, OnlineDegrees.com compared degree information from the National Center for Educational Statistics with job growth and salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine which degree programs boast the best cost-benefit ratio. These findings were used to created the Best Online Degrees, an interactive tool which allows prospective students to search specific majors and see how they stack up in terms of potential ROI.

In this piece we will look at the field that held more slots in the top 50 bang-for-the-buck majors than any other: technology and IT.

As you look over the list, keep in mind that this analysis is based on historical information that can change in a fast-paced economy. Also, remember that the degree titles used in this study may not correspond exactly with what you find in some school listings.

That said, here are the 20 technology majors that could potentially offer the best return on your educational investment:

1. Computer Programming, Specific Applications

This field combines general computer-programming knowledge with the ability to plan, develop, and maintain software that end users will interact with, products that need to take into account the requirements of individual people and organizations.

  • Average Salary of Related Professions: $90,070
  • Projected Job Growth (2012-2022): 17.17%
  • Average Tuition Cost Per Year: $8,521
  • Number of Schools Offering Programs in this Field: 236

2. Network and System Administration

The multiple computer networks we log into each day are all designed, built, and administered by people trained in network administration, one of the most vital (and in-demand) jobs in a world of continually expanding interlinked systems.

  • Average Salary of Related Professions: $88,420
  • Projected Job Growth (2012-2022): 17%
  • Average Tuition Cost Per Year: $9,842
  • Number of Schools Offering Programs in this Field: 268

3. Information Technology (IT)

This is one of those catch-all categories that often come about when newly emerging positions do not yet fit neatly into specific tech specializations. Use this data to better understand opportunities related to general work in IT, which could entail almost anything involving computer hardware, software, and data.

  • Average Salary of Related Professions: $98,496
  • Projected Job Growth (2012-2022): 21.34%
  • Average Tuition Cost Per Year: $13,865
  • Number of Schools Offering Programs in this Field: 905

4. Computer Software Technology

This programming specialty focuses on the engineering and design work needed to develop, implement, and evaluate computer software, including system software and applications.

  • Average Salary of Related Professions: $90,070
  • Projected Job Growth (2012-2022): 17.17%
  • Average Tuition Cost Per Year: $8,706
  • Number of Schools Offering Programs in this Field: 22

5. Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications

Like a number of majors in this study, this field overlaps with others that involve the management of computer networks, but also includes management and support of telecommunication networks such as telephonic switching systems.

  • Average Salary of Related Professions: $81,335
  • Projected Job Growth (2012-2022): 20.63%
  • Average Tuition Cost Per Year: $9,851
  • Number of Schools Offering Programs in this Field: 1321

6. Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance

With more and more of our information (including details about our personal and financial lives) being stored on computer networks, the role of the information security specialist is more in demand than ever.

  • Average Salary of Related Professions: $86,770
  • Projected Job Growth (2012-2022): 16.68%
  • Average Tuition Cost Per Year: $12,753
  • Number of Schools Offering Programs in this Field: 590

7. Information Science/Studies

The role of the information scientist is to push forward our understanding of how computers and information work and interact, developing theories and practical applications that advance the technology and processes that underlie our information age.

  • Average Salary of Related Professions: $97,418
  • Projected Job Growth (2012-2022): 13.5%
  • Average Tuition Cost Per Year: $17,081
  • Number of Schools Offering Programs in this Field: 849

8. Computer Programming, General

Every software development project requires input from "code cutters," programming generalists able to write the code that will become part of a product or system used by individuals, companies, government agencies, or other organizations.

  • Average Salary of Related Professions: $77,775
  • Projected Job Growth (2012-2022): 15.2%
  • Average Tuition Cost Per Year: $9,843
  • Number of Schools Offering Programs in this Field: 763

9. Computer and Information Sciences, General

Here we have another one of those catch-all categories, this one encompassing many fields and positions having to do with both computer science and information management.

  • Average Salary of Related Professions: $89,346
  • Projected Job Growth (2012-2022): 14.13%
  • Average Tuition Cost Per Year: $16,908
  • Number of Schools Offering Programs in this Field: 1973

10. Computer Systems Analysis

In today's world of commercial applications and open-source software, many technology projects require skilled systems analysts who can help determine the right combination of new and existing technology needed to solve specific individual and organizational challenges.

  • Average Salary of Related Professions: $77,463
  • Projected Job Growth (2012-2022): 14.68%
  • Average Tuition Cost Per Year: $12,093
  • Number of Schools Offering Programs in this Field: 244

As you look over this listing, keep in mind that dollar figures (both salary and program cost) are averages, meaning some will earn or pay more than these figures while others will earn or pay less. And remember that those at the start of their career are likely to make less than the average wage, even though salary advancement in the technology field can be quite rapid.

Remember also that the newness of many of these fields means the dividing line between them can be quite blurry. Make sure to do your research before enrolling in any degree program to make sure it coincides with your specific career goals.

Additional technology majors with high "bang-for-your-buck" ratios include:

11. Information Technology Project Management

12. Computer Software Engineering

13. Computer Engineering, General

14. System, Networking, and LAN/WAN Management

15. Computer Science

16. Informatics

17. Telecommunications Engineering

18. Project Management

19. Information Resources Management

20. Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration