Increase Earning Potential by Investing in a Master’s Degree in Information Systems

Achieving a Master’s of Science in Information Systems can open doors to a variety of information systems careers, according to this list of 'Top Ten Careers for MSIS Graduates' (see additional citation below).

Of all the career options listed in the article for MIS grads, Chief Information Officers and managers of information systems or information technology teams listed the highest possible pay. IS and IT managers were said to earn on average $120,900 per year. The pay rate for CIOs was listed at $245,000 per year.

According to that source, IS/IT managers have the opportunity to learn strategic management of information-related teams, and this could prepare them for further career positions as CIOs.

If you’re wondering whether earning a master’s degree in information systems is worth the time and money you’ll invest in it, you should have an idea of what a master’s of science in information systems salary is like. You’ll need to know what jobs are available and how much they generally pay in order to calculate how quickly you’ll be able to pay off your student loans.

Jobs in Information Systems

According to the 2017 IS Job Index, there were an estimated three million jobs in the information systems industry. Since 2015, the market for these jobs has increased nine percent.

As the market continues to grow, keeping an eye on salary changes for jobs and fluctuations in which jobs pay the most can help you make good decisions regarding whether to obtain your master’s degree in information systems. The IS Job Index is a good source for information systems salary information. You can also check for updates on PayScale Salary Reports and run your own searches on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. These sources can help you keep an eye on where the best locations in the country are for IS master’s degree graduates to work.

Information from the IS Job Index shows that jobs in information systems pay better than ones in accounting, finance, and marketing, and an information systems master’s salary earns more than a bachelor’s degree. Knowing how a career with a master’s in IS compares to other types of degrees, such as accounting or financing, can help you decide whether to continue toward a master’s degree in information systems or look more seriously at another field.

At the same time, investigating your options just within the information systems industry and comparing various career choices there can help you plan a career path with a master’s of information systems degree.

Salary Trends and Specialization

There’s a broad spectrum of jobs available in information systems. Information security analysts, software and applications developers, data and computer analysts and computer support specialists all play a part. The field also includes information technology (IT) jobs such as advisors, consultants, and auditors.

A master’s in information systems salary range can be just as broad. According to the 2017 IS Job Index, Information Technology Auditors earn about $62,000 per year. The BLS listed the median wage for information systems managers in 2017 at more than $139,000 per year. An article published in Forbes in January 2016 listed the average median salary for a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at $204,000 per year. In some areas, CISO positions earned $380,000 per year.

The 2017 IS Job Index lists cyber-security and applications development as two of the most valuable options out there. These areas could continue to grow in the near future.

Changes in Information Systems Industries

The technology association CompTIA predicts growth of 5 to 7 percent in the information technology sector in 2018. As part of its IT Industry Outlook 2018, CompTIA mentioned the need for continuing specialization of information technology-related fields to help fill skills gaps. From the Outlook: “In the early stages of an emerging technology, labor needs are typically handled in a hybrid manner, whereby existing staff take on new “sand box” responsibilities. As the technology matures, a software engineer, for example, may then specialize in an emerging field.”

CompTIA lists finding skilled workers with expertise in emerging fields as one of five top factors that could lead to a more challenging hiring environment in 2018. Rising salary expectations are another factor. According to the IS Job Index, since 2013 employees in software application development who have master’s degrees have seen a 49 percent growth rate in salaries in their specialization.

With that kind of change, how valuable will a master’s degree be in another five years? Will it help you find a specialization that will make your skills even more valuable to potential employers? Will an MS in information systems salary be just enough to scrape by, or will it skyrocket your earning potential?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes information systems in its computer and information systems occupations. In May 2017, the median annual wage for these occupations was $84,580.

Salary Basics in Information Systems

Information systems managers, which overlap with information technology managers, are some of the highest paying IS jobs available. In May 2017, the median annual wage was more than $139,000 per year. On the high end, people in these positions could make around $100-per-hour, or close to $208,000 a year.

At this point, many of these positions require a bachelor’s degree in information systems or technology and a master’s degree in business administration. For the overall IS industry, employees with bachelor’s degrees can earn $62,820-per-year, and those with master’s degrees make $72,517-per-year.

There’s variation between types of jobs, though. Let’s take a more detailed look at some of the things you can do with a master’s degree in information systems—and how much you’re likely to be paid.

Average MIS Salaries by Job Types

Software and Applications Developers The average salary for software and applications developers with master’s degrees is approximately $92,000 per year. It exceeds that of bachelor’s degree jobs in software development by more than $25,000 per year.

Information Security Analysts The IS Job Index indicates that these cyber-security specialists with master’s degrees earn approximately $67,300 per year. The median annual wage listed on BLS was $95,510 per year, or nearly $46-per-hour.

With a 28 percent growth rate, information security analysis is one of the fastest-growing IS segments around. In November 2016, there were 128,000 jobs in information security analysis, but only 88,000 were filled.

Information Technology Advisors and Consultants An information technology consultant has to know how to help clients with their IT problems. They help troubleshoot, manage and install new hardware and software. With a master’s degree, those employed as IS advisors or consultants make an average of $79,235-per-year. That’s more than $13,000 a year more when compared to what an employee with a bachelor’s degree working the same job would make.

The salary range starts at about $47,000 and goes up to around $117,000 per year.

Project Managers Project managers in information systems are tasked with planning and carrying out projects, including working with technical teams on product development. They also track progress and facilitate delivery of the results.

Project managers with master’s degrees make more than $76,000 per year. When compared to the salary average for project managers with bachelor’s degrees only, employees with master’s degrees make more than $15,000 more. Again, the range of possible salaries is wide, from about $54,000 to approximately $123,000 per year.

Data Analysts A data analyst collects data, interprets it, and presents it in reports or charts, sometimes starting with surveys. For job satisfaction, data analysts polled on Payscale.com ranked the position four out of five possible points.

The IS Job Index shows data analysts with a master’s degree make an average of $71,263 per year — more than $9,000 per year above what someone with a bachelor’s degree in the same position would average. According to PayScale data, the salary range starts at around $40,000 and goes up to about $82,000 per year.[9]

Computer Systems Analysts A computer systems analyst looks at computers and related systems rather than surveys. Their main responsibilities are to help the company they work for streamline and automate as many processes as possible. This includes looking at hardware and software and determining what changes would benefit the company.

A master’s in computer information systems salary is around $66,763-per-year, with a range of $40,000 to $93,000 per year.

Information Technology Auditors Information technology auditors analyze various technological functions that their management assigns to them. Those with master’s degrees earn an average of $62,409, but there’s a range of salary potential starting at around $51,000 and topping out around $99,000 per year. Job satisfaction scored five out of five.

An Overview of National MIS Salary Ranges by Region

Job responsibilities vary with their titles, and they vary from company to company, as well. In one company, an information systems manager might only be responsible for overseeing data and technology projects, and in another, that same person could act as the chief information or chief technology officer. Even with a master’s degree, the differences in responsibilities can impact the salary an employee receives.

The same is true for different areas of the nation. While information systems are becoming more deeply integrated into every aspect of our society, there are also some geographical hotspots where information systems experts tend to be more numerous.

A Quick Glance at National Trends

There are certain spots in the nation that naturally attract a large information systems crowd. Silicon Valley is one of those areas.

There’s also Washington State, where Boeing and Amazon corporate offices are located. Texas has its oil fields. All of these industries rely on computer and information systems to thrive.

If you’re trying to decide whether to pursue a master’s degree in information systems, the following statistics can help you look ahead to places you might someday work. Do these salary ranges work with your goals and dreams? If you pursue a master’s degree, will you make enough money to get a return on your investment?

California

Information Systems Managers California ranks third in the nation for top-paying states. Its mean hourly wage is $84.03, and the mean annual wage is almost $175,000.

Information Security Analysts California ranks second in the nation for the number of people employed as information security analysts, with a total of 8,470 people filling the position. The annual mean wage rate is also in the highest bracket in the nation, ranging from roughly $103,000 to approximately $121,000 per year. Four of California’s most populated regions ranked in the top ten for highest paid salaries in metropolitan areas in the nation.

Software Applications Developers California topped the list of states hiring software applications developers. It is also second in the nation for top pay, with a median annual wage of more than $126,000 per year. San Francisco is the top-paying metropolitan area in the nation with an annual median wage of more than $147,000 per year.

Texas

Information Systems Managers Texas ranks third in the nation for the number of people employed as information systems managers. It has a salary range of $145,000 to nearly $188,000 per year. The Fort Worth-Arlington region is seventh in the nation for top-paying metropolitan areas.

Information Security Analysts Texas ranks third in the nation for the number of people employed as information security analysts. Its median annual wages ranged from approximately $91,000 to around $101,000 per year. The state itself doesn’t rank as a top-paying state. However, the Dallas area ranks fifth in the nation for highest paid salaries, with a mean annual wage rate of more than $91,000 per year.

Software Applications Developers Texas is second in the nation for the highest number of people employed as software applications developers, and the Dallas area is sixth in the nation. Pay ranges from approximately $103,000 to $131,000 per year.

Florida

Information Systems Managers The annual mean wage for information technology managers in Florida ranged from approximately $118,000 to nearly $128,000 per year. Compared to other states, Florida didn’t have a high number of people or a high concentration of people employed as information technology managers.

Information Security Analysts With 5,240 people employed as information security analysts in the state, Florida ranks fifth in the nation for highest employment level in this occupation. The annual median wages for this occupation ranged from more than $80,000 to around $89,000 per year.

Software Applications Developers Florida doesn't make the top rankings for number of people employed by software application developers or for high pay. For this occupation, the annual median wages ranged from approximately $86,000 to around $93,000 per year.

Illinois

Information Systems Managers Median annual salaries for information systems managers in Illinois range from nearly $128,000 to almost $141,000 per year. For regions hiring the most people with this occupation, Illinois ranked fifth in the nation.

Information Security Analysts The annual median salary range for information security analysts in Illinois ranges from around $91,000 to approximately $101,000 per year. Overall, the state of Illinois doesn’t rank high for the number of people hired as information security analysts. However, the Chicago area ranks fourth in the nation for metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of these positions.

Software Applications Developers The annual median salaries for software applications developers range from approximately $93,000 to around $103,000 per year.

Massachusetts

Information Systems Managers The annual mean wage for information systems managers ranges from just over $145,000 to nearly $188,000 per year.

Information Security Analysts The Boston area of Massachusetts ranks sixth in the nation for the highest employment level of information security analysts in metropolitan areas.

The state itself isn’t on the top-five list for number of people employed in this position or for its high pay, although the Boston area median wage is more than $108,000 per year.

Software Applications Developers The Boston area of Massachusetts ranked ninth in the nation for the highest employment level for software applications developers.

The state annual median wages range from $103,000 to $131,000 per year.

New York

Information Systems Managers The median annual pay range in New York for this occupation is $187,770, with an hourly mean wage of approximately $90. It’s first in the nation for highest pay and second in the nation for the number of people employed as information systems managers.

Information Security Analysts With 6,170 people employed as information security analysts, New York ranks fourth in the nation for the number of people filling this type of position. It is also the third top-paying state, with an annual median wage of roughly $118,000 per year.

Software Applications Developers New York was the fourth top-paying state in the nation, with an annual median wage of more than $115,000 per year.

Louisiana

Information Systems Managers Louisiana’s mean annual salary ranged from $79,670 to approximately $118,000 per year.

Information Security Analysts For information security analysts in Louisiana, the mean annual salary was roughly $44,000 to approximately $79,000 per year.

Software Applications Developers Louisiana didn’t achieve top rankings in any of the measured areas. Its median annual wages for this occupation ranges from roughly $57,000 to approximately $86,000 per year.

What Is the Return on Investment for a Master’s Degree in Information Systems?

As you look ahead to the types of jobs you might be interested in, and the places you’d like to live, asking whether you can afford a master’s degree is a valid question. The short answer is it depends on you. What do you want?

Most people who graduate with a master’s degree leave school with more than $100,000 in student loans. As you look at the possible salaries available, remember that debt payments should never amount to more than ten percent of your income.

With that in mind, starting work in states that pay lower than $100,000 per year might not be a good idea. If you choose to pursue a master’s degree, find a field with work that you’ll enjoy, and that will pay you the salary you want and need.

Sometimes it Helps to Crunch the Numbers. How Much Can You Earn Over Your Working Life?

If you start work at the national average level for a software application developer ($92,000 a year) and nothing changes, you’ll make $2.76 million over the course of 30 years. At the national annual median, information security analysts can earn $2.87 million. Information systems managers can make approximately $4.18 million at the median annual wages over 30 years.

Information security analysis and software application development careers are growing at 28 percent and 24 percent respectively, which means they will likely see significant salary increases across the industry.

Meanwhile, technology and the world markets will continue to evolve, perhaps creating niches that require specialized training.

With all those things in mind, what is a master’s degree worth to you?

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