Employment of computer and information systems managers is
expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations
through the year 2014.
Many managers possess advanced technical knowledge gained
from working in a computer occupation.
Job opportunities will be best for applicants with computer-related
work experience; a masterís degree in business administration
(MBA) with technology as a core component, or a management information
systems degree; and strong communication and administrative
Nature of the Work
How and when companies and organizations use technology are critical
to remaining competitive. Computer and information systems managers
play a vital role in the technological direction of their organizations.
They do everything from constructing the business plan to overseeing
network security to directing Internet operations.
Computer and information systems managers plan, coordinate, and
direct research and facilitate the computer-related activities
of firms. They help determine both technical and business goals
in consultation with top management and make detailed plans for
the accomplishment of these goals. For example, working with their
staff, they may develop the overall concepts and requirements
of a new product or service, or may identify how an organizationís
computing capabilities can effectively aid project management.
Computer and information systems managers direct the work of
systems analysts, computer programmers, support specialists, and
other computer-related workers. These managers plan and coordinate
activities such as installation and upgrading of hardware and
software, programming and systems design, development of computer
networks, and implementation of Internet and intranet sites. They
are increasingly involved with the upkeep, maintenance, and security
of networks. They analyze the computer and information needs of
their organizations from an operational and strategic perspective
and determine immediate and long-range personnel and equipment
requirements. They assign and review the work of their subordinates
and stay abreast of the latest technology to ensure the organization
does not lag behind competitors.
The duties of computer and information systems managers vary
with their specific titles. Chief technology officers,
for example, evaluate the newest and most innovative technologies
and determine how these can help their organizations. The chief
technology officer, who often reports to the organizationís chief
information officer, manages and plans technical standards and
tends to the daily information technology issues of the firm.Because
of the rapid pace of technological change, chief technology officers
must constantly be on the lookout for developments that could
benefit their organizations. They are responsible for demonstrating
to a company how information technology can be used as a competitive
tool that not only cuts costs, but also increases revenue and
maintains or increases competitive advantage.
Management information systems (MIS) directors
manage information systems and computing resources for their organizations.
They also may work under the chief information officer and plan
and direct the work of subordinate information technology employees.
These managers oversee a variety of user services such as an organizationís
help desk, which employees can call with questions or problems.
MIS directors also may make hardware and software upgrade recommendations
based on their experience with an organizationís technology. Helping
ensure the availability, continuity, and security of data and
information technology services is the primary responsibility
of these workers.
Project managers develop requirements, budgets, and schedules
for their firmsí information technology projects. They coordinate
such projects from development through implementation, working
with internal and external clients, vendors, consultants, and
computer specialists. These managers are increasingly involved
in projects that upgrade the information security of an organization.
LAN/WAN (local area network/wide area network) managers
provide a variety of services, from design to administration of
the local area network, which connects staff within an organization.
These managers direct the network and its computing environment,
including hardware, systems software, applications software, and
all other computer-related configurations.
Computer and information systems managers need strong communication
skills. They coordinate the activities of their unit with those
of other units or organizations. They confer with top executives;
financial, production, marketing, and other managers; and contractors
and equipment and materials suppliers.
Computer and information systems managers spend most of their
time in an office. Most work at least 40 hours a week and may
have to work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines or solve
unexpected problems. Some computer and information systems managers
may experience considerable pressure in meeting technical goals
within short timeframes or tight budgets. As networks continue
to expand and more work is done remotely, computer and information
systems managers have to communicate with and oversee offsite
employees using modems, laptops, e-mail, and the Internet.
Like other workers who sit continuously in front of a keyboard,
computer and information systems managers are susceptible to eyestrain,
back discomfort, and hand and wrist problems such as carpal tunnel
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Advanced technical knowledge is essential for computer and information
systems managers, who must understand and guide the work of their
subordinates yet also explain the work in nontechnical terms to
senior managers and potential customers. Therefore, many computer
and information systems managers have experience in a computer
occupation such as systems analyst; other managers may have worked
as a computer support specialist, programmer, or other information
A bachelorís degree usually is required for management positions,
although employers often prefer a graduate degree, especially
an MBA with technology as a core component. This degree differs
from a traditional MBA in that there is a heavy emphasis on information
technology in addition to the standard business curriculum. This
preparation is becoming important because more computer and information
systems managers are making important technology decisions as
well as business decisions for their organizations. Some universities
specialize in offering degrees in management information systems,
which blend technical core subjects with business, accounting,
and communications courses. A few computer and information systems
managers attain their positions with only an associate degree,
but they must have sufficient experience and must have acquired
additional skills on the job. To aid their professional advancement,
though, many managers with an associate degree eventually earn
a bachelorís or masterís degree while working.
Computer and information systems managers need a broad range
of skills. Employers want managers who have experience with the
specific software or technology used on the job, as well as a
background in either consulting or business management. The expansion
of electronic commerce has elevated the importance of business
insight; many computer and information systems managers are called
on to make important business decisions. Managers need a keen
understanding of people, management processes, and customersí
Computer and information systems managers must possess strong
interpersonal, communication, and leadership skills because they
are required to interact not only with their staff, but also with
other people inside and outside their organizations. They also
must possess team skills to work on group projects and other collaborative
efforts. Computer and information systems managers increasingly
interact with persons outside their organizations, reflecting
their emerging role as vital parts of their firmsí executive teams.
Computer and information systems managers may advance to progressively
higher leadership positions in their field. Some may become managers
in nontechnical areas such as marketing, human resources, or sales.
In high-technology firms, managers in nontechnical areas often
must possess the same specialized knowledge as do managers in
Computer and information systems managers held about 280,000
jobs in 2004. About 9 in 10 computer managers worked in service-providing
industries, mainly in computer systems design and related services.
This industry provides services related to the commercial use
of computers on a contract basis, including custom computer programming
services; computer systems integration design services; computer
facilities management services, including computer systems or
data-processing facilities support services; and other computer-related
services, such as disaster recovery services and software installation.
Other large employers include insurance and financial firms, government
agencies, and manufacturers.
Employment of computer and information systems managers is expected
to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the
year 2014. Technological advancements will boost the employment
of computer-related workers; as a result, the demand for managers
to direct these workers also will increase. In addition, job openings
will result from the need to replace managers who retire or move
into other occupations. Opportunities for obtaining a management
position will be best for those with computer-related work experience;
an MBA with technology as a core component, or a management information
systems degree; and strong communication and administrative skills.
Despite the downturn in the technology sector in the early part
of the decade, the outlook for computer and information systems
managers remains strong. To remain competitive, firms will continue
to install sophisticated computer networks and set up more complex
Internet and intranet sites. Keeping a computer network running
smoothly is essential to almost every organization. Firms will
be more willing to hire managers who can accomplish that.
Similarly, the security of computer networks will continue to
increase in importance as more business is conducted over the
Internet. The security of the Nationís entire electronic infrastructure
has come under renewed scrutiny in light of recent threats. Organizations
need to understand how their systems are vulnerable and how to
protect their infrastructure and Internet sites from hackers,
viruses, and other acts of cyberterrorism. The emergence of cybersecurity
as a key issue facing most organizations should lead to strong
growth for computer managers. Firms will increasingly hire cybersecurity
experts to fill key leadership roles in their information technology
departments because the integrity of their computing environments
is of utmost concern. As a result, there will be a high demand
for managers proficient in computer security issues.
With the explosive growth of electronic commerce and the capacity
of the Internet to create new relationships with customers, the
role of computer and information systems managers will continue
to evolve. Persons in these jobs will become increasingly vital
to their companies. The expansion of the wireless Internet will
spur the need for computer and information systems managers with
both business savvy and technical proficiency.
Opportunities for those who wish to become computer and information
systems managers should be closely related to the growth of the
occupations they supervise and the industries in which they are
found. (See the statements on computer programmers, computer software
engineers, computer support specialists and systems administrators,
computer systems analysts, and computer scientists and database
administrators elsewhere in the Careers Database)
Earnings for computer and information systems managers vary by
specialty and level of responsibility. Median annual earnings
of these managers in May 2004 were $92,570. The middle 50 percent
earned between $71,650 and $118,330. Median annual earnings in
the industries employing the largest numbers of computer and information
systems managers in May 2004 were as follows:
Computer systems design and related services
Management of companies and enterprises
Depository credit intermediation
According to Robert Half International, a professional staffing
and consulting services firm, average starting salaries in 2005
for high-level information technology managers ranged from $80,250
to $112,250. According to a 2005 survey by the National Association
of Colleges and Employers, starting salary offers for those with
an MBA, a technical undergraduate degree, and 1 year or less of
experience averaged $52,300; for those with a masterís degree
in management information systems/business data processing, the
starting salary averaged $56,909.
In addition, computer and information systems managers, especially
those at higher levels, often receive more employment-related
benefitsósuch as expense accounts, stock option plans, and bonusesóthan
do nonmanagerial workers in their organizations.
The work of computer and information systems managers is closely
related to that of computer programmers, computer software engineers,
computer systems analysts, computer scientists and database administrators,
and computer support specialists and systems administrators. Computer
and information systems managers also have some high-level responsibilities
similar to those of top executives.
Sources of Additional Information
For information about a career as a computer and information
systems manager, contact the sources of additional information
for the various computer occupations discussed elsewhere in the
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics,
U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook,