How to Become a Computer and Information Systems Manager

How to Become a Computer and Information Systems Manager
Image from Unsplash
Eddie Huffman profile
Eddie Huffman April 3, 2023

Computer and information systems managers are enjoying explosive job demand. To secure a role overseeing the work of professionals like systems analysts and project managers, you'll typically need at least a bachelor's degree in computer or information science and relevant work experience. Earning a master's degree can land you at the front of the pack.

Cybersecurity and I.T. Degree Programs You Should Consider

Article continues here

Technology solutions are integral to modern-day business operations and planning. That’s been true since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, but it’s never been more true than it is in our current Big Data, processor-driven era.

Technological mastery has grown even more critical with recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI). On other fronts, a modern-day space race is raging in the trenches of companies like Microsoft and Google. From manufacturing to services to healthcare to education to the military and beyond, technology drives progress and success.

Software developers, systems analysts, and project managers all vie to keep their products ahead of the technological curve. But without the crucial input of computer and information systems managers, companies may unwisely choose speed over caution. This demand is great news for professionals focused on information systems management.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts an impressive job outlook of 16 percent growth for computer and information systems managers in the next decade—more than twice the national average for the entire job market. These highly skilled professionals already enjoy numerous occupational opportunities. It’s likely that even more are on the way.

This article explains how to become a computer and information systems manager and also explores the following topics:

  • What is information technology management?
  • What will you earn as a computer and information systems manager?
  • Steps to become a computer and information systems manager

What is information technology management?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “computer and information systems managers, often called information technology (IT) managers or IT project managers, plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities in an organization.”

Their work includes determining an organization’s IT objectives and achieving those technology goals by implementing computer systems and security protocols. They take the lead on managing complex information systems, providing leadership with hardware and software solutions to organizational problems. In addition, computer and information system managers oversee teams of computer engineers, providing guidance and regular performance evaluations.

Computer and information systems manager is a general term encompassing various job titles, including the following:

  • Chief information officer (CIO)
  • Chief technology officer (CTO)
  • IT director
  • IT security manager

Computer and information systems managers perform many of the following duties regularly:

  • Working with key stakeholders and end users to determine an organization’s computing needs
  • Upgrading hardware and software
  • Training users on new systems
  • Hiring and training other IT professionals (e.g., network engineers, support specialists)
  • Safeguarding an organization’s network and electronic information
  • Managing an IT department budget and setting funding priorities
  • Troubleshooting network, hardware, and software problems
  • Overseeing cyber security protocols
  • Staying abreast of new technology
  • Negotiating with vendors


University and Program Name Learn More

What will you earn as a computer and information systems manager?

In addition to a potentially lucrative career with plenty of demand, computer and information systems managers tend to love their jobs. IT manager ranks third overall in U.S. News & World Report‘s assessment of best technology jobs for 2023. In addition, the career ranks sixth among the best STEM jobs, eighth on the 100 best jobs list, and twelfth among best-paying jobs. So, what will you earn as a computer and information systems manager?

Considering the wide range of positions in this more general category, average pay will vary based on your title, location, and career experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for computer and information systems managers was about $159,000 as of May 2021. The highest earners in the category were chief technology officers, who earned an annual mean wage of about $290,000 as of May 2021.

Steps to become a computer and information systems manager

Traditionally, computer and information systems managers take the following steps to begin pursuing their careers:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology or a related field (e.g., engineering)
  2. Land an entry-level IT job
  3. Gain experience and develop managerial skills
  4. Earn certifications
  5. Earn a master’s degree (preferred)

Earning a bachelor’s degree

Your first step toward becoming a computer and information systems manager is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Ideally, you’ll want to pursue a major like computer science, information technology, or engineering. Any of these degrees will immerse you in the fundamentals of computer programming, data management, software development, and network security.

You’ll find many similar core classes in each of these programs. The Illinois Institute of Technology, for example, offers the following computer science undergraduate courses:

  • Business innovation
  • IT entrepreneurship
  • Network administration and operations
  • Enterprise and open-source server administration
  • Advanced database management
  • Database security
  • Shell scripting for systems administration
  • Cyber security management
  • Operating system virtualization

Obtaining licensure and certifications

Licenses and certifications can help you impress top employers. Trade associations like CompTIA and corporations like Cisco offer various certifications for professionals at any stage of their careers.

CompTIA breaks its certification program into five categories: core, infrastructure, cyber security, data and analytics, and professional. Certification options include:

  • A+, the “industry-standard credential”
  • ITF+
  • Network+
  • Security+
  • Cloud+
  • Linux+
  • Server+

Cisco categorizes its certifications as entry, associate, professional, and expert. Its certification options include the following:

  • CyberOps associate
  • CCNA, with an exam that covers “networking fundamentals, IP services, security fundamentals, automation, and programmability”
  • CCNP security
  • CCIE enterprise infrastructure

Professional licenses demonstrate your expertise and qualify you for specific jobs in states that require them.

Earning a master’s degree

While a master’s degree is not required for every computer and information systems manager role, many employers prefer candidates with this credential. Some organizations will not consider professionals without a master’s degree for top-tier management roles.

As with your bachelor’s degree, many master’s programs offer similar core curricula. If you choose to pursue an online Master of Science in Information Management from The University of Washington, for instance, you’ll take classes in the following subjects:

  • Analytics methods for information management professionals
  • Consulting practices
  • Data science I: theoretical foundations
  • Data science II: machine learning and econometrics
  • Foundations of cyber security
  • Foundations of strategic and managerial business intelligence
  • Management and strategic leadership
  • Policy and ethics in information management
  • Principles of information project management
  • Product/project management

You might also pursue an MBA with an information science focus. The Stevens Institute of Technology offers an excellent MBA program focused on computer science management. This online degree program provides the flexibility to continue working as you study.

Prospective students can find master’s degrees in computer and information systems nationwide. Programs include:

(Last Updated on February 26, 2024)

How useful is this page?

Click on a star to rate it!

Since you found this page useful...mind sharing it?

We are sorry this page was not useful for you!

Please help us improve it

How can this content be more valuable?

Questions or feedback? Email

About the Author

Eddie Huffman is the author of John Prine: In Spite of Himself and a forthcoming biography of Doc Watson. He has written for Rolling Stone, the New York Times, Utne Reader, All Music Guide, Goldmine, the Virgin Islands Source, and many other publications.

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

To learn more about our editorial standards, you can click here.


Cybersecurity and I.T. Degree Programs You Should Consider


You May Also Like To Read

Categorized as: CybersecurityInformation TechnologyInformation Technology & Engineering