How to Become a Computer and Information Systems Manager
Most jobs for computer and information systems managers require several years of experience in a related information technology (IT) job.
Typically, a bachelor’s degree in computer or information science, plus related work experience, is required. Many computer and information systems managers also have a graduate degree.
Computer and information systems managers typically need a bachelor's degree in computer and information technology or a related field, such as engineering technologies. These degrees include courses in computer programming, software development, and mathematics. Management information systems (MIS) programs usually include business classes as well as computer-related ones.
Many organizations require their computer and information systems managers to have a graduate degree as well. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is common and takes 2 years beyond the undergraduate level to complete. Many people pursuing an MBA take classes while working, an option that can increase the time required to complete that degree.
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Most jobs for computer and information systems managers require several years of experience in a related information technology (IT) job. Lower-level management positions may require only a few years of experience. Directors are more likely to need 5 to 10 years of related work experience. A chief technology officer (CTO), who oversees the technology plan for a large organization, may need more than 15 years of experience in the IT field before being considered for a job.
The number of years of experience required varies with the organization. Generally, smaller or newer companies do not require as much experience as larger or more established ones.
Computer systems are used throughout the economy, and IT employees may gain experience in a variety of industries. However, an applicant’s work experience should be in the same industry they are applying to work in. For example, an IT security manager should have previously worked in information security. A hospital IT director should have experience in the healthcare field.
Most computer and information systems managers start out as lower-level managers and advance to higher positions within the IT department. IT directors or project managers can advance to become CTOs. A CTO or other manager who is especially business-minded can advance to become a chief information officer (CIO), the person in charge of all IT-related decisions in an organization. CIOs can advance to become top executives in an organization.
Analytical skills. IT managers must analyze problems and consider and select the best ways to solve them.
Business skills. IT managers must develop and implement strategic plans to reach the goals of their organizations.
Communication skills. IT managers must explain their work to top executives and give clear instructions to their subordinates.
Decision-making skills. Some IT managers must make important decisions about how to allocate resources in order to reach their organizations’ goals.
Leadership skills. IT managers must lead and motivate IT teams or departments so that workers are efficient and effective.
Organizational skills. Some IT managers must coordinate the work of several different IT departments to make the organization run efficiently.