How to Be an IT Manager
Students interested in becoming an information technology manager, or computer and information systems manager, generally need to have some formal education and training to oversee the computer-related activities and needs of an organization. Below, we explore the different IT manager requirements in more detail.
Step 1: IT Manager Degree
IT managers are usually required to have at least a bachelor's degree. There are some degrees, such as a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in information technology, that can prove beneficial by providing not only the computer science side but the necessary business and management skills needed to be a manager. However, most managers hold a bachelor's in computer or information science.
Bachelor's degree programs in computer or information science are typically offered as Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees. Many of these degree programs are offered in online formats and may offer opportunities for hands-on learning through internship and/or research experiences. Students in these degree programs may take courses in topics like:
- IT project management
- Systems analysis
- Systems design
- Software engineering
Step 2: Work Experience
The majority of IT managers need some prior work experience in the field. The number of years of experience required varies with the organization and level of position, but in general, managers need 5 years or more, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Managers usually begin their careers in lower-level IT positions and work their way up.
Step 3: Advanced IT Manager Education
Since a lot of companies require that those in management have a graduate degree, many IT managers go on to earn their master's. Commonly, IT managers may pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree to further develop their management skills and prepare for a career in management. Some of these degree programs offer concentrations specifically in IT management.
Many of these MBA in IT Management programs are available in online formats. Some of these programs may allow students to complete their degree in as little as 6 to 18 months. Students in these programs may take courses in topics such as:
- Accounting for managers
- Enterprise resource planning
- IT strategic solutions
Step 4: Optional Certifications
Professional certification is not typically required, but some IT managers and/or professionals may choose to pursue certification in a particular area to demonstrate their expertise. For example, IT professionals may pursue a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification or a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification.
What Does an IT Manager Do?
IT managers are responsible for planning and meeting the information technology goals of various kinds of organizations. This requires them to understand their organization's information technology needs and then figure out how to implement the necessary computer systems. Other responsibilities may include:
- Evaluating project costs and benefits
- Determining necessary upgrades
- Exploring new technologies
- Overseeing the work of other IT professionals
- Keeping computer networks and information secure
Information Technology Manager Salaries
In 2018, the BLS reported that the average annual salary for all computer and information systems managers was $152,860. Most of these managers worked in computer systems design and related services and made an average salary of $159,790 the same year. According to PayScale.com, IT managers made a median annual salary of $87,510, as of August 2019.