Most people think getting into the upper middle class is straightforward: go to school, study technology, and get a job somewhere in the tech sector. But is it really that simple? We did some research and discovered that there are plenty of great high-paying gigs out there, but there are also several positions with relatively low pay.
Our data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tracks a wide variety of metrics on jobs and the American economy. We took a subset of figures from the technology sector and placed the 15 highest and lowest paying jobs in a unique visualization. Think of our graphic as a two-sided pyramid, illustrating in a vivid way the highest and lowest rungs of the tech ladder. We included average base salary expressed both as an overall number and on a per hour basis. This lets you easily see which jobs are worth going after (and which ones are probably a dead end).
As you might expect, managers generally sit at the top of the food chain. Computer and Information Systems Managers take home the best money on average, pulling in just under $72/hour. Compare that with lowly technical support representatives at the bottom, who make roughly 75% less at $16.70/hour. Remember to be nice to the guy who helps you the next time you have a technical problem!
Our two-sided pyramid also reveals a few key insights about the tech sector. First off, things aren’t actually so bad at the low end. Keep in mind all the jobs in our visualization pay above average compared to the rest of the economy. Median household income in the U.S. is about $59,000. Two spouses who both earn $16.70/hour would pull in over $69,000 a year. That’s great work if you can get it.
The visualization also suggests that slight changes in a job title can directly impact compensation even if the on-the-job duties are very similar. Look at all the positions with “representative,” “specialist” and “administrator” in the title. They come with lower pay as opposed to “analyst,” “developer” and “architect.” But what’s the difference between a specialist and an analyst?
This makes us believe that changing your job title might be worth it in the long run even if it doesn’t mean getting an immediate raise.
Data: Table 1.1