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How to Become a Computer and Information Systems Manager

By Andrea Delgado

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Are you fascinated by the intersection of business and technology? Do you have a passion for leading teams and driving innovation? A career as a computer and information systems manager might be the perfect fit for you! Let us walk you through the essential steps, education, skills, and experiences needed to embark on this exciting and rewarding journey.

Career Summary

Computer and Information Systems Manager Salary

Computer and Information Systems Manager Salary

The salary range for computer and information system managers can vary significantly depending on different factors. Here is a general overview of a computer and information systems manager’s salary range from entry-level to executive positions according to data from glassdoor.com:

  • Entry Salary (US$65k)
  • Median Salary (US$79k)
  • Executive Salary (US$124k)

The average income of Computer and Information Systems Managers in the United States is generally higher than the national average income for all occupations, which was around US$61,900 in May 2022, according to the BLS.

What does a Computer and Information Systems Manager do?

Computer and information systems managers, also known as IT managers or IT directors, are responsible for overseeing an organization’s technology infrastructure and ensuring its efficient and effective operation. They are responsible for planning, coordinating, and directing computer-related activities, including system upgrades, network security, software development, and the implementation of new technologies. They work closely with other departments to ensure that technology aligns with the organization’s goals and objectives, while also managing IT staff and budgets.

Computer and Information Systems Manager Career Progression

  • Entry-Level Positions: Many professionals start their careers in entry-level positions such as IT support specialists, systems analysts, or database administrators. These roles provide foundational knowledge and hands-on experience with various aspects of information technology.
  • Mid-Level Positions: After gaining a few years of experience, professionals often move into mid-level positions such as IT project manager, network administrator, or IT consultant. In these roles, individuals take on more responsibilities, lead projects, and demonstrate their ability to manage teams and implement technology solutions.
  • Senior-Level Positions: With several years of experience, professionals can progress to senior-level roles such as IT manager, IT director, or senior systems architect. In these positions, individuals oversee larger IT initiatives, manage teams of IT professionals, and make strategic decisions to align technology with business goals.
  • Executive Positions: Some experienced professionals may aspire to reach executive-level positions, such as Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO). In these leadership roles, individuals are responsible for setting the overall technology strategy, managing IT budgets, and driving innovation across the organization.
  • Entrepreneurship or Consulting: Another path for career progression is to start their own IT consulting firm or technology-focused business. This allows experienced professionals to leverage their expertise, provide specialized services to clients, and have more control over their career trajectory.
Computer and Information Systems Manager Career Progression

Pros:

  • Technological Advancement
  • Problem-Solving and Strategic Thinking
  • Continuous Learning and Professional Development
  • Competitive Compensation
  • Job Security and Demand

Cons:

  • High Responsibility and Pressure
  • Long Hours and Workload
  • Rapid Technological Changes
  • Budget Constraints and Research Allocation
  • Team Management and Interpersonal Challenges

Useful Skills to Have as a Computer and Information Systems Manager

  • Technical Expertise
  • Leadership and Management
  • Problem-Solving and Analytical Thinking
  • Project Management
  • Business Acumen

Popular Computer and Information Systems Manager Specialties

  • IT Security Manager
  • Data and Analytics Manager
  • Cloud Computing Manager
  • IT Project Manager
  • Systems Architect
  • Network Manager
  • Chief Information Officer (CIO)

How to become a Computer and Information Systems Manager

Computer and Information Systems Manager 5 Steps to Career

Becoming a computer and information systems manager typically requires a combination of education, experience, and specific skills.

While individual paths may vary, here are some common steps to becoming a computer and information systems manager:

  • Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree:  Start by earning a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as computer science, information technology, or management information systems (MIS). This provides a solid foundation in computer systems and business principles.
  • Gain Relevant Work Experience: While pursuing your degree or after graduation, gain practical experience in the field. This can be achieved through internships, part-time jobs, or entry-level positions in IT departments or related roles. This experience helps you develop technical skills, understand organizational dynamics, and learn about various aspects of information systems management.
  • Acquire Technical Skills:  Develop a strong understanding of computer systems, networks, databases, software development, cybersecurity, and other relevant technologies. Stay updated with the latest advancements and trends in the IT industry to enhance your technical knowledge.
  • Obtain Certifications:  Earning industry certifications can demonstrate your expertise and dedication. Certifications such as CompTIA A+, Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and Project Management Professional (PMP) are highly valued in the field.
  • Pursue a Master’s Degree (Optional): While not always necessary, a master’s degree in a relevant field can provide a competitive advantage and open doors to higher-level management positions. Programs such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a focus on information systems or a master’s degree in computer science can be beneficial.
  • Develop Managerial and Leadership Skills:  As you progress in your career, focus on developing skills in team management, project management, communication, problem-solving, and strategic planning. These skills are essential for effectively leading a team and aligning technology initiatives with business objectives.
  • Demonstrate Leadership Potential:  Seek out opportunities to take on leadership roles, such as managing projects or leading a team. Prove your ability to oversee and execute IT initiatives, drive innovation, and deliver results.
  • Stay Updated with Industry Trends:  Continuously expand your knowledge and stay abreast of evolving technologies and industry trends. Attend conferences, workshops, and seminars, and actively participate in professional organizations and online communities.
  • Network and Build Professional Relationships:  Networking plays a crucial role in career advancement. Attend industry events, join professional associations, and connect with colleagues, mentors, and other professionals in the field. These connections can provide valuable insights, career opportunities, and guidance.
  • Seek Advancement Opportunities:  Look for opportunities to progress into management positions, such as IT project manager, IT manager, or information systems manager. Apply for positions that align with your skills and career goals, and be prepared to showcase your accomplishments and qualifications during the application and interview process.

Remember, the path to becoming a computer and information systems manager can vary depending on individual circumstances and preferences. It’s essential to continually learn, adapt, and stay flexible as technology and industry need to evolve.

Average Time and Costs of Obtaining a Degree in Computer and Information Technology

The time and costs associated with obtaining a computer and information technology degree can vary depending on various factors, including the type of degree, educational institution, and whether you pursue it on a full-time or part-time basis.

Here is a general overview:

Bachelor’s Degree

  • Time: A bachelor’s degree typically takes around four years of full-time study to complete. However, the duration can vary if you choose to attend part-time or if you have transfer credits from previous education.
  • Costs: The costs of a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or management information systems can vary significantly depending on factors such as the institution, location, and whether you attend a public or private university. On average, tuition and fees for a four-year program can range from $40,000 to $120,000 or more.

Master’s Degree

  • Time: A master’s degree in a relevant field can take an additional one to two years of full-time study beyond a bachelor’s degree. Some programs may offer accelerated or part-time options, which can affect the duration.
  • Costs: Similar to bachelor’s degrees, the costs of master’s degree programs can vary widely. Tuition for a master’s program can range from $20,000 to $100,000 or more. It’s worth noting that some employers may provide tuition reimbursement or other financial assistance for employees pursuing advanced degrees.

Additional Costs to Consider

  • Books and study materials: The cost of textbooks and other required materials can vary depending on the courses and programs you choose. It’s common to budget a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per year for these expenses.
  • Technology and equipment: As an IT professional, you may need to invest in a reliable computer, software, and other equipment to support your studies. The costs for these items can vary depending on your needs and preferences.
  • Certification costs: Obtaining industry certifications often requires passing exams, and there may be associated costs. Certification exam fees typically range from $100 to $500 or more, depending on the certification and provider.

It’s important to note that the figures provided above are approximate and can vary significantly based on individual circumstances and choices. It’s advisable to research specific programs and institutions to get accurate and up-to-date information regarding the costs and timelines associated with obtaining a computer and information systems manager degree. Additionally, scholarships, grants, and financial aid options can help offset some of the costs, so exploring those opportunities is recommended.

Internship Opportunities for a Computer and Information Systems Manager

Internship opportunities for computer and information systems managers can provide valuable real-world experience and help build a foundation for a successful career in the field.

While specific internships may vary depending on location, industry, and organization, here are some common types of internships available:

  • IT departments in corporations: Many large corporations have dedicated IT departments that offer internships. These internships may involve assisting with technology infrastructure, supporting end-users, participating in software development projects, or contributing to cybersecurity initiatives.
  • Technology consulting firms: Consulting firms often provide internship opportunities in areas such as IT strategy, systems implementation, and digital transformation. Interns may work on client projects, conduct research, and support the development of technology solutions.
  • Software development companies: Interning at a software development company allows you to gain hands-on experience in programming, software design, and quality assurance. You may work on projects in various stages of the software development life cycle and collaborate with experienced developers.
  • Startups and technology companies: Startups and smaller technology companies often offer internships that provide exposure to various aspects of information systems management. Interns may have the opportunity to work on diverse projects, contribute to product development, or assist with IT operations.
  • Government organizations: Government agencies at the local, state, or federal level may offer IT internships. These internships can involve supporting IT infrastructure, assisting with data management, or contributing to government IT initiatives.
  • Educational institutions: Colleges and universities often have internships available within their IT departments. These internships can provide exposure to managing technology in an academic setting, supporting faculty and students, and participating in IT projects specific to higher education.

To find internship opportunities, consider the following steps:

  • Check with your college or university: Many educational institutions have career services offices that can assist you in finding internships. They may have connections with local businesses and organizations that offer internships in the IT field.
  • Networking: Attend career fairs, industry events, and professional association meetings to connect with professionals in the field. Networking can help you learn about internship opportunities and potentially secure referrals or recommendations.
  • Online job portals: Explore online job portals and internship-specific platforms where organizations post internship opportunities. Websites like Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and internmatch.com often have internships listed in the IT field.
  • Company websites: Visit the websites of companies and organizations you are interested in to see if they have internship programs. Some organizations may have dedicated sections on their websites for internships or provide contact information for inquiries.

Can I Become a Computer and Information Systems Manager Through Online Education?

Yes, it is possible to pursue a career as a computer and information systems manager through online education. Online education has become increasingly popular and offers flexibility for individuals who may not be able to attend traditional on-campus programs due to various reasons such as work commitments, geographical constraints, or personal circumstances.

Here are some key considerations and steps to pursue a computer and information systems management career through online education:

  • Research accredited online programs: Start by researching reputable institutions that offer online programs in computer science, information technology, or management information systems. Look for programs that are accredited by recognized accrediting bodies to ensure the quality and credibility of the education you receive.
  • Choose the right program: Select an online program that aligns with your career goals and interests. Consider factors such as the curriculum, specialization options, faculty expertise, and available resources. Look for programs that cover essential topics related to computer systems, networks, cybersecurity, software development, project management, and leadership skills.
  • Engage with the online learning community: Despite the remote nature of online education, you can still engage with instructors and fellow students through discussion forums, virtual group projects, and online meetings. Actively participate in these interactions to enhance your learning experience, build professional networks, and collaborate with peers.
  • Stay updated with industry trends: Keep yourself informed about the latest advancements and trends in the field of computer and information systems management. Follow industry publications, attend webinars, and participate in online courses or certifications to enhance your knowledge and stay competitive in the job market.

What are Some Web Resources to Learn Skills to Become a Computer and Information Systems Manager?

There are numerous web resources available to learn skills and acquire knowledge to become a computer and information systems manager.

Here are some highly regarded platforms and websites that offer educational content, courses, tutorials, and resources in this field:

  • Codecademy: Codecademy focuses on teaching programming and web development skills. While not directly targeted at computer and information systems management, learning programming languages and web development can be valuable for aspiring managers in the IT field.
  • MIT OpenCourseWare: MIT OpenCourseWare is an initiative by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to share course materials from its undergraduate and graduate-level courses. It offers free access to lecture notes, assignments, and other resources in computer science and related subjects.
  • TechTarget: TechTarget is a comprehensive online resource for IT professionals. It provides articles, tutorials, webcasts, and whitepapers on various aspects of technology, including information systems management, cybersecurity, networking, and more.
  • Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA): ISACA is a global professional association for IT governance, risk management, and cybersecurity professionals. It offers resources, certifications, and publications that are relevant to computer and information systems management.
  • CIO: CIO is a website dedicated to providing news, insights, and resources for IT executives and professionals. It covers various aspects of IT management, technology trends, and best practices in the industry.
  • TechRepublic: TechRepublic offers articles, downloads, and resources on IT management, cybersecurity, project management, and other technology-related topics. It provides insights from industry experts and real-world examples.

Remember to also explore relevant blogs, forums, and online communities focused on computer and information systems management. Engaging with professionals in the field can provide valuable insights, practical advice, and networking opportunities.

What is the Work-Life Balance of a Computer and Information Systems Manager?

The work-life balance of a computer and information systems manager can vary depending on factors like job responsibilities, industry, and organizational culture. They may need to handle critical issues and work outside regular hours, but flexibility and remote work opportunities can help achieve a better balance. Personal boundaries, self-care, and effective time management are important for maintaining a work-life balance. It’s crucial to find an organization that aligns with your desired work-life balance priorities.

Useful Skills to Have as a Computer and Information Systems Manager

As a computer and information systems manager, possessing a diverse set of skills is crucial for success in the role.

Here are some useful skills to have:

  • Technical Expertise: A strong foundation in information technology is essential. This includes knowledge of computer systems, networks, software development, cybersecurity, database management, and emerging technologies. Staying updated with the latest industry trends and advancements is essential to make informed decisions and lead effectively.
  • Leadership and Management: Computer and information systems managers need excellent leadership and management skills to guide their teams and drive results. This includes the ability to set clear goals, delegate tasks, provide feedback, motivate team members, and resolve conflicts. Effective communication, decision-making, and strategic planning are also critical.
  • Problem-Solving and Analytical Thinking: The ability to analyze complex issues, identify problems, and develop effective solutions is paramount. Strong problem-solving and analytical thinking skills allow computer and information systems managers to address technical challenges, optimize processes, and make data-driven decisions.
  • Project Management: Computer and information systems managers are often responsible for overseeing projects from conception to completion. Proficiency in project management methodologies, such as Agile or Waterfall, is valuable. This includes skills in planning, organizing, scheduling, budgeting, and risk management to ensure successful project outcomes.
  • Communication and Collaboration: Effective communication is essential when working with both technical and non-technical stakeholders. Computer and information systems managers need to explain complex technical concepts clearly and concisely, as well as listen actively to understand business requirements. Strong collaboration skills enable effective teamwork and the ability to align technology solutions with organizational goals.
  • Strategic Thinking: Computer and information systems managers should possess strategic thinking skills to align technology initiatives with the organization’s long-term vision. This includes assessing business needs, evaluating risks and opportunities, and developing technology strategies that support growth and innovation.
  • Continuous Learning: The field of technology is constantly evolving, so a willingness to learn and adapt is crucial. Keeping up with new technologies and industry best practices, and obtaining relevant certifications demonstrates a commitment to professional growth and ensures relevance in an ever-changing landscape.
  • Business Acumen: Understanding the organization’s industry, business model, and objectives is essential for computer and information systems managers. This allows them to align technology initiatives with the overall business strategy and make informed decisions that drive value and contribute to the organization’s success.

What’s the Career Outlook for Computer and Information Systems Manager?

According to the BLS, employment of computer and information systems managers is projected to grow 16 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. About 48,500 openings for computer and information systems managers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as retiring.

Computer and Information Systems Manager Popular Career Specialties

Popular Computer and Information Systems Manager Specialties

Computer and information systems managers can specialize in various areas based on their interests, expertise, and the specific needs of their organization.

Here are some popular specialties within the field:

  • IT Security Manager: Specializing in IT security involves managing and implementing strategies to protect an organization’s computer systems and networks from potential threats, such as cyberattacks, data breaches, and information theft. IT security managers focus on ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of digital assets.
  • Data and Analytics Manager: This specialty revolves around managing the organization’s data infrastructure and leveraging data analytics to drive insights and informed decision-making. Data and analytics managers oversee data collection, storage, analysis, and visualization, working closely with data scientists and business intelligence teams.
  • Cloud Computing Manager: With the growing adoption of cloud technologies, cloud computing managers specialize in managing and optimizing cloud-based infrastructure, such as public, private, or hybrid clouds. They oversee the migration of systems and applications to the cloud, ensure data security, and optimize cloud resource utilization.
  • IT Project Manager: IT project managers focus on overseeing the planning, execution, and successful completion of technology projects. They are responsible for managing project scope, timelines, budgets, and resources while ensuring effective communication and collaboration among team members and stakeholders.
  • Systems Architect: Systems architects specialize in designing and implementing complex IT systems and infrastructure. They assess business requirements, select appropriate technologies, and create system blueprints that integrate hardware, software, networks, and databases to meet organizational needs.
  • Network Manager: Network managers specialize in managing an organization’s network infrastructure, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and wireless networks. They ensure network performance, reliability, and security while overseeing network upgrades, troubleshooting, and optimization.
  • Chief Information Officer (CIO): While not a specialty in itself, reaching the executive level as a CIO is a career aspiration for some computer and information systems managers. As a CIO, professionals oversee the entire technology strategy of an organization, aligning it with business goals, managing IT budgets, and leading the technology team.

What Type of Companies Hire Computer and Information Systems Managers?

Computer and information systems managers are in demand across various industries as organizations of all types rely on technology to support their operations.

Here are some types of companies and organizations that commonly hire computer and information systems managers:

  • Corporate enterprises: Large corporations in sectors such as finance, healthcare, retail, manufacturing, telecommunications, and energy often employ computer and information systems managers to oversee their IT departments. These managers are responsible for managing technology infrastructure, implementing software solutions, ensuring data security, and aligning technology strategies with business objectives.
  • Technology companies: Technology-focused organizations, including software development companies, IT consulting firms, cloud service providers, and telecommunications companies, hire computer and information systems managers to oversee their technical operations and lead technology initiatives.
  • Government agencies: Government entities at the local, state, and federal levels employ computer and information systems managers to manage their IT infrastructure, develop technology policies, and ensure the secure operation of government systems. These managers may work in areas such as public administration, defense, healthcare, transportation, or education.
  • Educational institutions: Colleges, universities, and other educational institutions employ computer and information systems managers to lead their IT departments, manage student information systems, oversee e-learning platforms, and ensure the smooth functioning of technology infrastructure across campuses.
  • Healthcare organizations: Hospitals, healthcare systems, and medical research organizations hire computer and information systems managers to oversee their IT operations, and electronic health record systems, and ensure compliance with healthcare data regulations like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).
  • Financial institutions: Banks, insurance companies, investment firms, and other financial institutions hire computer and information systems managers to manage their technology systems, implement cybersecurity measures, and ensure the integrity and availability of financial data.
  • Startups: Startups, especially those in the technology industry, often hire computer and information systems managers to establish and manage their technology infrastructure, develop IT strategies, and ensure scalable and secure systems as they grow.

Should I become a Computer and Information Systems Manager?

Deciding whether to become a computer and information systems manager is a personal choice that depends on your interests, skills, and career goals.

Here are some factors to consider when making this decision:

  • Interest in technology: Computer and information systems managers work in a technology-driven field, so it’s important to have a genuine interest in technology and its applications. If you enjoy working with computers, software, networks, and emerging technologies, this career path may be a good fit.
  • Leadership and management skills: Computer and information systems managers are responsible for leading teams, overseeing projects, and making strategic decisions. Strong leadership, communication, problem-solving, and decision-making skills are essential for success in this role.
  • Business acumen: Computer and information systems managers need to bridge the gap between technology and business objectives. Understanding how technology can support organizational goals, aligning IT strategies with business needs, and managing IT budgets are important aspects of this role.
  • Work environment and challenges: Computer and information systems managers often face challenges such as managing complex projects, addressing cybersecurity risks, and staying updated with rapidly evolving technologies. Consider whether you are comfortable working in a dynamic and fast-paced environment.
  • Education and experience requirements: Becoming a computer and information systems manager typically requires a combination of education, relevant experience, and certifications. Consider the time and resources required to obtain the necessary qualifications for this role.

It’s important to research and gain insights into the day-to-day responsibilities, industry trends, and career paths within computer and information systems management. Talk to professionals in the field, pursue internships or entry-level positions to gain practical experience, and reflect on how your skills and interests align with the demands of the role. Ultimately, make an informed decision based on your aspirations and what you envision for your future career.

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Andrea Delgado

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