Do IT job titles matter?
In some cases, they can make a slight difference, but in the long run what’s really important is whether you can get the job done or not.
I’ve been in the IT industry for several years now and my title has changed as I’ve advanced in my career. I’ve come to realize that a lot are very broad and open to interpretation. For example, one person might consider you to be a software developer while another might call you a web developer. What about a data analyst versus a business intelligence developer? There are many examples with each of those titles that are essentially the same exact job. So in that case, titles wouldn’t matter.
Titles can help if you’re trying to progress and show that through your work history. You want your progression to be reflected in your job titles. However, ultimately your job responsibilities aren’t always in line with your job title.
When Do Job Titles Matter?
Larger sized companies usually have more “official” job titles in place than smaller companies. At larger companies, a specific title is usually associated with a specific pay range. For example, if your title is Java Developer, your salary might be in the 70-75k range. If your title was more general, such as Web Developer, the company may have your salary capped out at 65k.
If you’re working basically anywhere else, then your job title probably doesn’t matter as much. A perfect example of this would be if you were working at a tech start-up. Based off my knowledge, a lot of IT staff working for start-ups usually wear a lot of hats. You could be doing front end web development, back end development, and database development, but still have a very general title like “Developer” or “Analyst.” That really doesn’t matter if you’re the only person in IT. You’re basically the CIO as far as anyone else knows.
Job Postings Can Be Misleading
For starters, when you first begin your job search you need to know how to be able to analyze different job responsibilities. You don’t want to stuck in a situation where you applied to what you thought was a Software Developer role, but actually it’s a help desk position. Do you really want to waste your time interviewing for a job where you’d be assigned help desk tickets all day? That is exactly why IT job titles don’t matter.
According to an article by Huntsource, job titles can affect resume search optimization. If your job title is either too inflated or doesn’t do you justice, it can risk having your resume overlooked. If you need help writing your resume, check out my article on how to write a great technical resume. Do you really want to be passed over for a job just because your title isn’t in line with your experience? Remember, the important thing is whether you can do the job or not.
I recommend adding a 2nd title in parenthesis to your resume if this is the case. That’s a great way to both be honest on your resume but also highlight what you truly did at that company. As an example, maybe the company officially called you a Data Analyst, but you really did a lot of SQL development every day. I say, list your title as “Data Analyst – SQL Developer.”
Different IT Job Titles
There are tons of different IT job titles out there and they can be paired together in different combinations as well. Take a look at a few examples.
Below Are Some Common IT job Titles:
Systems Administrator (average salary of $76,020 per year)
A systems administrator is basically a jack of all trades. They usually have the task of making sure that the systems keep running smoothly. Often they will need to troubleshoot and update systems… and sometimes are even responsible for setting up systems from scratch.
Data Architect (average salary of $136,447 per year)
An architect is often very involved with the initial creation and technical construction of their area of expertise… which in this case would be databases and data warehouses. They usually work close with project managers and developers to determine business needs, technical requirements, and figure out the best course of action for implementing new IT software and changes.
An architect is usually required to have a systematic and logical mindset. They aren’t usually writing as much code on a daily basis as programmers do, but they may have experience with more languages.
Developer (average salary of $113,638 per year)
A developer title can range from junior, regular, senior to full-stack. Mobile and web developers fall into this category as well. The responsibilities for developers can range from analyzing software, coding, developing apps, managing databases, to testing code.
IT Manager (average of $86,666 per year)
IT managers typically oversee the day-to-day responsibilities of a team. Often, they have employees than specialize in different areas on their team. For example, my manager also had Web Developers on the team. Sometimes, IT managers are less technical than some other positions. That is something to keep in mind when deciding if this job title is right for you.
Depending on where you work and how long you’ve worked there, you may end up in a management position anyway someday.
Director of Information Technology (average of $116,598 per year)
Often, people in these roles are “experts” in their field of work and have experience working in other IT positions. Directors typically oversee other developers and manage a team of IT employees.
All the salary information listed above was collected from Indeed.
Not so Great IT Job Titles
In my opinion, some of the worst IT job titles have the word Junior attached to it. Whether it be Junior Analyst, Junior Systems Engineer, or Junior Software Developer – its not a good title. Sure, you may have to accept the title if you’re just starting out in your IT career. Typically “Junior” programmers and software engineers tend to have under two or three years of experience. However, I still would recommend trying to find other ways to present it if possible.
Not only does a Junior Developer title not sound great, the salary probably isn’t as high either. Titles with the word junior tied to it often pay less. They may even still require the same skills that a regular developer is required to have. Employers know that they can trap entry-level IT employees into taking this position and that they can pay them less. If you’re in this situation, prove that the skills you have are tied to different titles. This might help persuade the hiring manager or your current manager to change your title.
Should You Still Ask for a Better Title?
If you’ve worked for a company for at least six months and believe that you deserve a better title, then ask! What would it hurt?
I asked for a higher job title at my previous job in addition to a raise. Before I approached my manager, I made sure that I had enough support to back-up my request. My best advice would be to research the job descriptions and salary for the title you want. Create a presentation with this data to back-up your request based off your responsibilities and how they’re in line with the title. Payscale is a great site to get average salary information for titles in your area.
Even if you aren’t concerned with getting a higher salary, I still recommend asking for the title you want if your reasons are justified.
Don’t Put Too Much Emphasis on the Title
You should always try to negotiate as much as you can to get the best title for yourself. Whether you’re accepting a job or getting a promotion, be prepared to ask for the title you want. Overall though, you shouldn’t let a title be a deal breaker for whether you accept a position. The most important thing is learning the skills that can help benefit your career. In addition, getting a higher salary is more important than the title too!