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 skills.
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
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.
(Chief information officers are covered in a separate Handbook statement on
top executives.) 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
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
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 syndrome.
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 technology professional.
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 needs.
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 technical areas.
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.
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 benefitssuch as expense accounts,
stock option plans, and bonusesthan do nonmanagerial workers in their organizations.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition,
Computer and Information Systems Managers, on the Internet at
(visited June 21, 2006).