Melissa Minchala discovered a passion for computer science almost by accident. The co-founder and president of DataVelocity, a tech-support and IT solutions firm for small businesses based in New York City, Minchala says she started in the information technology field while studying for a degree in psychology. “I applied for a job as a receptionist. They asked if I had ever used Excel,” she says.
She quickly brushed up on the basics of the program, and soon discovered a passion that has kept her in the industry for more than 20 years. “I discovered I really liked supporting software,” she says. “I started teaching myself macros…A couple months later, I was working for a tech firm in Manhattan.”
Minchala has worn many hats as an IT professional, but she says none fit quite like systems analysis.
Computer systems analyst one of many fast-growing jobs where gender takes a back seat to skill, experience and passion. In fact, the field employs more women than almost any other IT specialty at 34.9% last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And with competitive pay and a very positive hiring outlook through 2022, computer systems analyst is ranked as one of CareerCast.com’s best jobs for women in 2014.
While the IT sector as a whole ranks highly in our annual Jobs Rated report for 2014, the sector has traditionally employed a low percentage of women. The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology in Palo Alto, Calif., estimates that in Silicon Valley, America’s tech hub, the percentage of women in the labor force languishes between 20% and 23% annually.
Yet, women’s role in the IT labor force has grown dramatically in the 21st century, and the continued importance of IT in all phases of the American economic and workforce will translate into a more diverse hiring landscape, they report.
“I find when you follow your passion, the doors just kind of open up,” Minchala says.
Whether it’s a passion for technology or another industry sector, research shows that entrepreneurship is another fast-growing method for women seeking more satisfying, financially rewarding careers.
The U.S. Small Business Administration estimates that last year, 10.6 million women owned their own businesses, a significant jump from the 1990s.
One such entrepreneur is Neta Yoffe, who launched NetaPR in New York in 2012. The public relations firm emphasizes trends in social media and online marketing to help clients target media and prospective consumers. Yoffe says that whether a woman is working for a start-up or in a large, established environment, public relations is one of the best sectors for women in the current economy.
Indeed, the BLS reports that more than 70% of all PR sector employees are women, yet it's not a velvet ghetto given that salaries have risen significantly in recent years.
Other top jobs where women make up more than 60% of the workforce while also earning compensation comparable to their male counterparts include occupational and physical therapist, event planner, advertising and marketing manager, human resources manager and education administrator.
The following is the CareerCast.com listing of the 12 best jobs for women in 2014 based on average annual salary, projected hiring outlook, and number of women in the field, as well as other criteria including stress, physical demands, the percentage of women working in the field and more:
One of the top careers per the 2014 Jobs Rated report, actuary is a rapidly growing and potentially lucrative field.