Computer Science

How Much Do Computer and Information Systems Managers Make?

How Much Do Computer and Information Systems Managers Make?
Salaries tend to vary significantly by location, and generally increase with population density and the competitiveness of the technology labor force. Image from Unsplash
Katie Marcus profile
Katie Marcus March 8, 2023

The BLS reports that CIS managers typically earn six-figure salaries. Talk about revenge of the nerds!

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“Hello, this is IT. Have you rebooted?” Sure, if you pursue a career in IT, you will spend a lot of time telling your coworkers to restart their computers. But, as any tech expert knows, there’s a whole lot more to IT than that.

In fact, a well-run information technology (IT) department can mean the difference between a mellow work environment and utter mayhem. IT management is a field that truly exemplifies the old saying: “If you’re really good at your job, nobody will notice that you’re doing it.” That suits most computer and information systems (CIS) managers, professionals who work tirelessly behind the scenes building sound computer infrastructure—and emerge from the server room to save the day when your laptop is spazzing out. Or even when it just needs a cold boot.

Keep reading to find out how much you can earn as your local office tech wizard.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • How much do computer and information systems managers earn?
  • What IT managers do
  • Who’s hiring computer and information systems managers
  • Steps to becoming a computer and information systems manager
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How much do computer and information systems managers earn?

A computer and information systems manager’s salary depends on dozens of factors; on average, CIS managers earn $159,010 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job listing websites offer an encouraging but less sunny view; Payscale lists an average salary of $88,000, while Glassdoor reports an average base income of $125,000.

Experience

An entry-level position for a CIS manager with less than one year of experience will, on average, earn somewhere between $39,000 and $107,000, according to Payscale.com. As experience increases, the average salary rises; for mid-career managers, the average exceeds $85,000. A highly experienced CIS manager can earn upwards of $155,000 per year. A master’s degree can help boost your income.

Location

Salaries tend to vary significantly by location, and generally increase with population density and the competitiveness of the technology labor force. Below are the average salaries of CIS managers in major cities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • San Jose, CA ($228,030)
  • San Francisco, CA ($211,470)
  • New York, NY ($202,800)
  • Seattle, WA ($185,210)
  • Boulder, CO ($181,080)

Industry

The average salary for a CIS manager varies by industry. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the sectors that employ the most CIS managers include:

  • Computer systems design and related services ($166,810)
  • Management of companies and enterprises ($164,800)
  • Software publishers ($172,770)
  • Management, scientific, and technical consulting services ($172,220)
  • Insurance carriers ($169,910)

Company size

According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a CIS manager scales with the size of the company. This is due to the consequently heavier loads of network management and information security with more employees, more customers, and more transactions.

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What CIS managers do

It’s hard to imagine a modern company that does not include a thriving IT department. The responsibilities of this team—to oversee the development and maintenance of internal and client-facing networks—are essential to any contemporary business.

The CIS manager leads this team. The manager works to ensure that any sort of company-wide policies, systems, and processes related to computers and networks are firmly established and running smoothly. CIS managers often oversee large teams of IT specialists to execute new system implementations and perform system maintenance.

Computer and information systems managers are expected to have multiple years of IT experience under their belts. They are also expected to have acquired strong skills in, among other things:

  • Network management
  • Information security
  • Encryption
  • Antivirus protection

CIS managers should also have expertise in troubleshooting workstations and databases.

Many companies, especially those that are large or growing, work to earn a data security and information management system standard, awarded by third-party authorizers, such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), that evaluate a company’s IT strength. Amazon, for example, abides by the ISO27001 standards, which indicates compliance with a set of stringent company-wide information-management regulations.

In general, a CIS manager leads the effort to ensure that all employees are in compliance with regulations established by these certifications. Those efforts would include an implementation strategy and careful oversight of employee practices.

CIS managers need to be quick on their feet and ready to respond to urgent requests from any functional team within a company. Along with an in-depth understanding of technical systems, this position requires advanced communication skills to understand and resolve IT issues effectively. Antisocial IT specialists may still find employment, but for those looking to rise as team leaders and achieve higher salaries, excellent social skills can be a huge asset.

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Steps to becoming a computer and information systems manager

The first step to becoming a computer and information systems manager is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. You could major in computer science; some schools, such as New York University, offer more specialized majors such as information systems management.

Students at Georgia Institute of Technology can earn a bachelor’s degree in information technology management. A computer science major should provide a strong grounding in both the theoretical concepts and practical application of programming, hardware and software, algorithms, and information processing. Be sure to look at bachelor’s programs to see what degree best suits you.

Next, you should consider accruing a few years of experience working on a corporate IT team. Entry-level positions on an IT team may include:

These lower-level positions focus on granular aspects of information technology, but as an employee gains experience, her scope of oversight typically grows. CIS managers, with still more years of experience, are likely to oversee various IT functions rather than to specialize in just one area.

A graduate degree is a great step for those looking to rise to a managerial role within an IT department. A Master of Science will provide in-depth training in computer systems, while an MBA will better prepare you for management and general business. According to WeboPedia, a tech directory, “An MBA in information technology management offers additional business expertise and a powerful advancement credential.”

A rockstar computer and information systems manager with an advanced degree and years of experience can rise to become the chief technology officer, or even a chief information officer for an organization and make company-level technology decisions with other executives. Not too shabby for someone who started out reminding people to restart their computers every once in a while.

Questions or feedback? Email editor@noodle.com

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.


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