What Does a Computer and Information Systems Manager Do?

FT Contributor
A young computer and information systems manager working in a network server room.
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A computer and information systems manager, or CIS manager, is in charge of directing and coordinating the computer and IT-related activities for a company or organization. This senior position may have different titles depending on the place where you work and the exact duties of your job.

Job Description

A computer and information systems manager oversees the entire IT operation for a company or an organization. In some positions, however, a CIS manager may focus on a specific aspect of IT, such as security or selection and implementation of new technology.

CIS Manager Jobs Titles

The different titles for computer and information system managers include:

  • Chief Information Officer (CIO);
  • Chief Technology Officer (CTO);
  • IT Director;
  • IT Security Manager.

These CIS manager roles have some specialized duties and require different skillsets. However, at small companies, computer and information security managers may have multiple functions.

CIS Manager Skills

In general, all CIS managers analyze the IT needs of their employer and then suggest improvements, changes, or upgrades that can increase IT efficiency, security, and performance. You then oversee a team of IT professionals, developers, and computer engineers who design, customize, install, and maintain the computer networks and systems.

Regardless of their specific role, CIS managers usually communicate and negotiate with outside vendors who provide IT products and services to the company.

CIS Manager Duties

CIS managers also work with other stakeholders in the company to come up with short-term and long-term strategies for IT operations.

Depending on their title, CIS managers may have specific duties. A Chief Information Officer, or CIO, for example, is responsible for the overall IT strategy of the organization. In addition to this high-level decision making, they oversee the planning and implementation of IT systems and practices that help them carry out their strategies. A CIO may focus on different aspects of IT depending on the needs of their employer, but they always concentrate on the “big picture” of IT operations.

A Chief Technology Officer (CTO) focuses on the IT systems themselves. CTOs are managers who have more technical expertise than CIOs. Larger corporations have both a CIO and CTO. The CTO selects the technology that will best help the company or organization meet its IT goals. They may oversee the design, development, and maintenance of these systems, and they may also design a training program and best practices for employees who use the IT infrastructure.

An IT director oversees the IT department. This position requires technical expertise, but you also need to be familiar with human resources practices because you directly manage the IT department’s employees. An IT director usually handles the hiring of technical employees and ensures that they have the resources and training to carry out their duties. In this CIS management position, you are also responsible for the operational budget of the IT department.

Finally, an IT security manager focuses on providing security for all computer networks and systems within the company. In addition to overseeing the design and implementation of security systems, such as firewalls, you also need to assess these systems continually. If there is a security breach, you are responsible for leading the response to it. IT security managers also come up with policies and procedures that employees need to use when accessing the IT system.  

Median Salary and Job Growth

CIS managers are senior employees, and some are even considered executives. These are high-paying IT positions. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for computer and information systems managers was $142,530 in 2018, though salaries ranged between $85,380 and $208,000. The actual salary may vary significantly based on the level of education, demand, and years of experience.

The BLS also says that the demand for computer and information systems managers will grow at least twice as fast as the average demand for all professions over the next decade.

Job Requirements

Typically, a career path of a computer and information systems manager starts with a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems, computer science, IT, or a related field. Some employers prefer that you have at least a master’s degree. For example, you could obtain a bachelor’s degree and learn the necessary hard skills for your career by studying a technical subject and then earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a focus on IT.

Business-related education or experience can be beneficial because most managers have to deal with budgeting, negotiating with vendors, weighing the financial impact of IT decisions, and handling human resources issues. You typically need to develop soft skills (non-technical skills) to handle these aspects of your job.

Computer and information systems managers are not entry-level employees. Employers expect you to have previous experience before you apply for a management-level position in IT. Companies may expect five years of IT experience and some previous experience in management.

Computer and Information Systems Manager Engineer Job Outlook

According to the BLS, demand for computer and information security managers will increase rapidly in the coming years. The average demand for workers in all industries will increase by 5% between 2018 and 2028. BLS projects that the need for qualified CIS managers will increase by 11%, and the overall market for IT operations managers will grow by 10%. Specific areas, such as cybersecurity and cloud computing, could see the highest growth rates.

Should I Become a Computer and Information Systems Manager?

You may want to pursue a career as a computer and information systems manager if you are interested in both business and technology. A CIS manager career will also test your leadership abilities, so you need to be interested in developing management skills.

In these senior positions, you will need to make decisions that could affect the company’s operations and financial performance. This career is for people who are confident in their abilities to analyze issues, solve problems, handle pressure, and make decisions.

During the planning and decision-making process, you need communication skills to work with other company decision-makers and managers. You also need to communicate and negotiate with vendors.

Finally, this career path requires commitment and patience. These senior-level positions often require developing your skills over several years in entry-level and mid-level positions.

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