Number of Jobs
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Technology Jobs||#8|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#24|
Computer and information systems managers are the guides that help organizations navigate the always-changing labyrinth that is modern technology. Known as IT managers, these all-important employees are counted on to deliver short- and long-term visions for the company's technology needs and goals. Even though most IT managers have the technical chops to execute the various jobs of the workers they supervise, they are more likely to be caught in a meeting room than a server room. Coordinating technology-related matters with top executives, planning upgrades of existing software or hardware and negotiating with vendors for the service of current products or the purchase of new ones are all common tasks IT managers encounter. IT managers also install and upgrade an organization's computer system and protect the office network from hackers and malware. When the job is done well, many employees won't even notice the work involved. But if you haven't had an email interruption or server meltdown in the past few months, you probably have an IT manager to thank for it.
While the highest-profile jobs are in computer systems design, almost all organizations need IT managers, especially financial and insurance companies, manufacturing firms and federal, state and local governments. The rapidly growing health care industry is also expected to greatly increase its IT use, resulting in newly created positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts strong employment growth of 15.3 percent and an estimated 50,900 new positions to be filled between 2012 and 2022. The chief drivers of this growth will be organizations upgrading their information technology systems to newer, faster networks and striving to avoid cyber threats.
IT managers earned a median of $120,950 in 2012, or about $58.15 per hour, according to BLS data. The best-paid earned more than $187,199, while the lowest-paid brought home a still-respectable $74,940 in 2012. The best-compensated jobs are located in Jacksonville, N.C., or the Bay Area, specifically San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.
IT managers typically need a bachelor's degree in computer or information science, including coursework in computer programming, software development and mathematics. Many organizations also require their IT managers to have a graduate degree, such as a Master of Business Administration. Most spend five to 10 years in an IT occupation before being promoted to manager, but smaller companies generally do not require as much experience as larger companies. Successful IT managers can further advance to IT directors, chief technology officers and perhaps even chief information officers.
Computer and technical skills are essential, but equally important are management abilities. IT managers need to analyze a problem and pick the best and most cost-effective solution. They need to additionally lead and motivate departments of people to meet the goals of the company. "The most important thing about IT management is knowing enough about a lot of things so you can manage a lot of people who know about different things," says Kapil Patnaik, senior director of IT at TechAmerica. "If you decide to go into management, you have to learn how a system works rather than how a particular project works."
You can distinguish yourself by learning how to solve problems outside your initial area of expertise. "When something breaks, [IT managers] don't always have to wait on somebody else to manage a simple situation," Patnaik says. "If you expose yourself to different technology and a myriad of situations, then when you start to manage people, you can understand their pain points and where people you are managing are coming from."
|Upward Mobility||good Above Average|
|Stress Level||poor High|
|Flexibility||poor Below Average|
Last updated by Nathan Hellman.