When IT managers do their jobs well, their clients are barely aware of their existence. Do the computers work properly? Do emails arrive and send without a hitch? Is the network secure? Are system upgrades implemented on time, preferably in the middle of the night? When the answer to all these questions is yes—as it is when IT operates at peak performance—no one really gives IT much thought.
Nor do they give IT a call, which is the way IT professionals like it. They don't need to bask in the glory of the myriad business functions their work facilitates. They just want to be left alone to do what needs doing to keep the business running. A great day in IT is a day when no one has to say "Have you tried rebooting?"
Overseeing this essential, underappreciated enterprise are IT managers. IT management is a critical role in any business or organization, and as a result, it can pay quite well. Those who do it seem to enjoy the work: according to US News & World Report, IT managers have the third-best job in technology, the 12th-best STEM job, the thirteenth-best-paying job, and the 28th best job overall.
Better still, the field enjoys a low unemployment rate and an 11 percent employment growth rate. Those are two more reasons to give becoming an IT manager further thought.
In this article we'll cover:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical IT manager's responsibilities include:
IT management can be a lucrative career, yielding an average salary of $138,220, according to U.S. News & World Report. Salaries are generally highest in San Jose, San Francisco, New York City, Newark, and Taunton, Massachusetts. Overall, the pay outlook for IT managers is higher than for software developers, computer systems analysts, database administrators, and computer systems administrators.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2018 there were 414,400 IT manager-related jobs in the U.S., with the largest employers in the following sectors:
Job postings for IT management positions typically require at least a bachelor's degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the BLS, the two most common undergraduate degrees for IT managers are:
Both degree programs include coursework in computer programming, software development, and math.
While not always necessary, a graduate degree (such as a master's degree) can confer a competitive advantage to job hunters. Graduate degrees typically held by successful IT managers include:
Which certifications will be the most helpful in your career will depend a lot on the specific IT role you seek. Different situations will call for different types of technologies, tools, and project management practices. The more training and certifications you complete, the better.
According to PayScale, popular technology capabilities common among information technology candidates include:
Most IT managers work their way up from entry-level roles over the course of five to ten years of work experience before becoming an IT manager, according to U.S. News & World Report.
To what position does an IT manager advance? Some options include:
It's also possible for IT managers to rise to other c-level positions, including CEO. They might also become board members.
Beyond IT director and CTO or CIO, seasoned IT professionals who rise to the c-level within a company may also " target="_blank">start their own company or grow into a bigger role at a larger company, according to the Wall Street Journal.
How ambitious are you? IT manager is a job that comes with a lot of responsibility, meaning a lot of stress and a lot of demands on your time and energy. When the company's internet unexpectedly goes down, the phone service fails, the servers crash, a storm causes a power outage, or some other major technology issue or weather-related crisis strikes, you and your team will get the call. Any time, night or day.
In addition, this—like many tech fields—continues to be male-dominated, a self-perpetuating problem that can only be rectified by talented, ambitious women willing to face down potential bias and other hurdles. Fortunately this situation is improving, although experts say we are at least a decade away from achieving gender balance in the field.
In spite of all that, this is also a challenging, interesting, and highly remunerative profession in a growing job sector. If you're ready to take on the challenge, you should find pursuing a career in IT management well worth the effort.
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