Computer and Information System Manager

Reliable and effective technology is necessary in the modern economy. As a result, computer and information system managers supervising the integration and use of technology within their firms are very valuable to their organizations. These managers develop business plans, supervise network security, and direct internet operations.

Computer and information system managers coordinate and supervise research projects that support a firm's computer related operations. Working with upper management, computer and information systems managers determine and develop business and technological goals—and a roadmap to reach these goals. Managers must possess good understanding of technology and business procedures.

Computer and information system managers supervise computer programmers, support specialists, systems analysts, and other computer related staff. These managers organize and coordinate hardware and software installation and upgrades, systems design and programming, expansion of computer networks, and the creation and use of internet and intranet sites. Computer and information system managers increasingly spend more time with security, maintenance, and upkeep of networks, and they analyze the computer and information, staff, and equipment needs of their firms and develop a strategy to meet short and long term goals. These managers divvy out and review the work assignments of their staff and stay updated on technological developments to prevent their firms from falling behind the competition.

The responsibilities of computer and information system managers depend on their specific position. To illustrate, Chief technology officers (CTOs), analyze new technology to determine how it can benefit their companies. These officers also oversee the daily information technology issues the organization handles, implements technical standards to follow, and they report to the organization's top chief information officer. CTOs must be aware of technology changes that can benefit their organization since technology is constantly evolving.

Management information system (MIS) directors or information technology (IT) directors are responsible for computing resources. They usually work under the CIO, organizing and supervising the assignments of information technology staff. MIS or IT directors make sure information technology at their firms is accessible and secure. As a result, they manage an assortment of user services such as the help desk, a resource for employees to report problems and ask questions. MIS directors use their knowledge and experience working on their firm's technology to recommend software and hardware upgrades.

Project managers plan the details, develop schedules, and set budgets for their company's information technology projects. They work with vendors, consultants, internal and external clients, and computer experts to coordinate and develop information technology projects, many that are intended to upgrade security.

Work environment. Computer and information system managers spend the majority of their time in an office, work a minimum of 40 hours a week, and often work evening and weekends to resolve disputes and meet deadlines. Because of short deadlines and small budgets, managers responsible for the technical goals of their organization will be under significant stress. Information system managers must be able to effectively communicate using emails and the internet, and supervise offsite employees, because more work is performed remotely. These managers are vulnerable to health problems such as back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and eyestrain since they spend a majority of their in front of a computer.

Training and Education
Computer and information system managers are usually very experienced, possess technical expertise, and understand business management, so they must be educated and have a background in technical industries.

Education and training. Candidates for computer and information system manager positions usually must have earned a bachelor's degree, while some firms prefer graduates with an MBA with a technology emphasis. These types of MBAs are different from traditional MBAs because there is an emphasis placed on information technology in conjunction with the traditional curriculum. Since more computer and information system managers are involved with technology management and business operations, post graduate training is important.

Certain universities offer degrees in information system management, combining technology courses with communications, accounting, and business management courses. Some computer and information system managers with associate or trade school degrees are offered positions, but usually in conjunction with applicable skills and experience. Many managers will return to school while working and earn a bachelors degree or master's degree to be better positioned for a promotion.

Certification and other qualifications. Computer and information system managers need a variety of skills. Employers seek managers with specific software or technology experience combined with experience in business management or consulting. With the expansion of electronic commerce, many computer and information system managers are involved with business decisions, so these managers must understand customers' needs and business management.

Computer and information system managers must possess detailed technical knowledge of the systems they oversee in order to effectively lead their staff and explain, in plain language, technical jargon to customers and senior management. Thus, managers need experience with system analysis, by previously working as a programmer, information technology professional, or a computer support specialist.

Certification programs are available for potential computer and system managers, but are not necessary to secure employment. Many programs are designed for specific software or hardware, so many certification programs are sponsored by software and hardware companies.

Since computer systems are increasingly tied with daily business operations, computer and information system managers are expected to understand fundamental business operations, and because they must work with staff members and individuals not connected with their firms, managers must demonstrate leadership and interpersonal communications skills. They must be able to work with teams to complete group projects. Managers must understand how technology is related to their firm's business operations, business fundamentals, and how the firm generates revenue, so many firms prefer hiring candidates with experience in non-technical fields.

Advancement. Computer and information system managers can advance to higher managerial positions, for example, chief technology officer or chief information officer, within the information technology division. Since possessing technical knowledge is vital for all functions of a technology company, many managers are promoted to supervise the human resources, marketing, or sales divisions.

In 2012, there were about 264,000 information system managers. Nearly one fourth of managers worked in service providing industries such as computer systems design. Companies in service providing industries usually offer services associated with commercial computer use. These services include software installation, disaster recovery, data processing, computer systems integration design, or computer programming. Other industries hiring information service managers include manufacturing firms, government agencies, or financial and insurance firms.

Job Outlook
Above average job growth for information system managers is expected because of the expansion of technology. Qualified candidates should expect job opportunities because of increased demand for skilled technical workers.

Employment change. Demand for information systems managers is expected to increase 16 percent through 2016, better than average compared to other industries. Implementation of new technology in the workforce will increase demand for new employees, increasing the need for managers. Despite economic downturn in technology industries during the early years of the 2000's, demand continues to be strong for computer information system manager jobs. To stay competitive, companies will continue to install intricate computer networks and develop sophisticated websites and intranets. A smooth operating network is essential for most companies. Since computer networks facilitate business transactions, computer security will continue to be an important need for companies. Computer hackers are becoming more sophisticated even though software developers continue to improve software, so companies need to understand system vulnerability and develop strategies to protect their computer infrastructure and internet sites from hackers. Since protecting computer systems is vital, security concerns should increase opportunities for computer managers, so firms will hire more security experts as managers in their information technology divisions.

With the increasing use of the internet to generate business and reach new customers, the duties of computer and information system managers will continue to change. Employees with previous internet technology work experience will serve essential roles in their companies.

Opportunities for potential computer and information system managers should be correlated to the growth of the industries they are employed in. Job prospects. Excellent opportunities should exist for qualified computer and information system managers. Qualified individuals will find numerous opportunities because of the lack of technical employees in the work force and increased demand for qualified managers. Demand continues to increase for technical workers even though there remains a scarcity supply of workers in the job market. This situation was made worst when many technical workers lost their jobs during the economic decline of the early 2000's. As a result, many people have avoided technology industries because of perceived poor job growth.

Individuals with good communication skills and specific technical knowledge will have better employment opportunities. Because companies are relying on technology to increase revenue, individuals with management skills and an understanding of business fundamentals will have exceptional job opportunities.

The level of specialty and responsibility will determine a computer and information system manager's salary. In May of 2012, median yearly salaries were $103,580, while the managers in the middle 50 percent averaged salaries between $82,240 and $129,250. In May of 2012, median salaries in industries employing the majority of information systems managers were:

Industry/sector Annual Pay
Colleges, universities, and professional schools $83,280
Insurance carriers $105,180
Data processing, hosting, and related services $106,200
Management of companies and enterprises $106,980
Computer systems design and related services $111,130
A 2012 salary guide lists annual salaries for the following computer and information systems managers: technical services managers, $62,500-$88,250; vice president of information technology, $107,500-$157,750; chief security officer, $97,500-$141,000; chief technology officer, $101,000-$157,750. Moreover, managers, especially upper management, can receive such perks as stock option plans, bonuses, and expense accounts.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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