IT Application Specialist: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for IT application specialists. Get the facts about education requirements, job outlook and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Mobile Development degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an IT Application Specialist Do?

Information technology (IT) application specialists develop, manage and troubleshoot computer programs. They identify and analyze IT problems and needs for their company, and they then develop individual programs that make up software and assemble those programs in a way that meets company needs. Before releasing the end product, they test it and make needed corrections. These professionals typically possess an advanced knowledge of coding and an expertise in the industry they work for (such as finance). The table below outlines the general requirements for a career as an IT application specialist.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Software engineering, application programming, computer information systems
Key Responsibilities Ensure computer applications run smoothly, troubleshoot issues, fix bugs, create new applications
Certification Certification a possible alternative to an academic degree
Job Growth (2014-2024) 19%*
Median Salary (2015) $98,260*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is an IT Application Specialist?

An IT application specialist helps to keep computer applications running smoothly and operating properly. In this field, you'll troubleshoot issues, fix bugs and maintain applications with regular updates. You could create new applications or redesign existing programs to meet a particular business need. Documentation is an important part of the job, and you'll need to write up usage reports and catalog problems encountered with your applications.

To discover issues and get suggestions about improvements for applications, you could get feedback from users, collaborate with others in the IT department and study system reports. You might also help implement new applications within a company by providing users with guides or training on how to use specific technologies, features or software programs.

What Skills Will I Need?

As an IT application specialist, you'll design and program applications and enhance the functions of off-the-shelf software. The job requires you to know programming languages, such as C+ or Java. You'll need to be familiar with different operating systems and Internet technologies in order to test the compatibility of your applications. In instances where you provide end-user troubleshooting, training or documentation, your written skills should be able to meet the technical level of your target audience.

The work requires exact and methodical operation, and you'll need to pay attention to details to ensure accuracy. One small error in a line of programming could cause major problems with the application. To advance in your career, you'll need familiarity with project management, leadership skills and quality control methods. Some businesses use proprietary development tools and software, though a foundational knowledge of core programming technologies and tools could make learning specific equipment easier.

What Education Is Usually Required?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you'll often need at least a bachelor's degree for this profession. Majoring in software engineering, application programming or computer information systems could prepare you to become an IT application specialist. Depending on the employer, you could substitute or enhance your formal education with industry certification that demonstrates your expertise in a particular technology, such as the Certified Professional credential offered by the International Secure Software Engineering Council. In addition to academic and professional training, you might need to acquire experience in software development or support.

What Are My Employment Prospects?

In May 2015, the BLS reported the median annual salary for applications software developers was $98,260. About 14.4% of those were employed in computer systems design companies in 2015, according to BLS statistics. Jobs in this field were expected to grow 19% between 2014 and 2024, and the BLS stated that your best prospects would be in keeping up-to-date with the latest programming tools and languages.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A couple careers related to that of IT application specialists include systems software developers and computer hardware engineers. Systems software developers complete many of the same tasks as application specialists, but rather than working with applications software, they work with the software that composes a computer's operating system. They must create and assemble different programs to work together and make the computer itself functional. Computer hardware engineers work on the physical components that make up the insides of a computer. They need to be able to assemble these components to make computers that can run an operating system and IT applications. All of these professionals need a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field.

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