If you’ve considered advancing your tech career to become a computer and information systems manager — at times referred to as IT managers — then you’re no stranger to the job duties of this title: planning, coordinating and directing an organization’s computer-related activities.
However, even if you’re able to check off all the items on the list of desired qualifications for this position in a given job posting, you may find it difficult to stand out from the pack. Today’s IT job market is simply saturated with talent and competition. “Computer and information systems managers need a wide variety of skills to be successful,” explains Hernan Santiesteban, founder of the Great Lakes Development Group. “Aside from the obvious importance of technical knowledge, oftentimes softer skills can play a more essential role.”
As you’re looking for ways to move your resume to the top of a hiring manager’s list when he or she is looking for computer and information systems manager candidates, consider the advice compiled from our panel of hiring and technology experts.
First, let’s look at the promising statistics surrounding this top tech career.
Computer and information systems managers: The basics
“In today’s fast-paced technology market, the role of a computer and information systems manager is critically important to any size organization,” says Julie Woodard, who, after years of working in human resources management — many of which were spent working for technology companies — started her own human resources consulting company, Woodard and Associates LLC.
You don’t have to take Woodard’s word for it, though. The statistics regarding computer and information systems jobs speak for themselves. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that computer and information systems manager jobs will grow 15 percent by 2024, more than double the rate of the national average for all occupations.
Oftentimes, growing demand leads to competitive salary offerings, as is the case for computer and information systems management positions. As of May 2016, the BLS reported the median annual salary for this position as $135,800. This is nearly $100,000 higher than the median annual salary for all occupations nationwide.
When analyzing the benefits of working as a manager within this sphere, it’s also important to note the advertised educational requirements. We used real-time job analysis software from to scan more than 25,000 job postings from the last 12 months in hopes of digging into this a bit deeper.*
While a majority of computer and information systems job positions require, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree, about 25 percent of them require at least a master’s degree. It is also helpful to consider the fact that these job titles typically require at least nine years of relevant professional experience. With that in mind, consider the following bit of information offered by Dave Cox, CEO at LiquidVPN: “The ideal requirements for computer and information systems management positions have evolved quite a bit in the last five to seven years.”
In an industry that is evolving so rapidly, we can expect even more change to occur over the next five to seven years. And while the minimum requirement for a computer and information systems manager position may be only a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree can surely give you an edge, signaling to hiring managers that you are up-to-date with the latest developments in the world of technology management.
Now that you have a firmer grasp on the basics surrounding this in-demand job, it’s time to review the advice of our experts.
5 Attributes of successful computer and information systems managers
1. A combination of technical knowledge and effective communication skills
In addition to the technical knowledge and skills learned in a degree program, it’s essential that a computer and information systems manager supports it with strong communication skills. “When interacting with business executives or customers, the ability to explain complex technical subjects is crucial,” Santiesteban explains. “Using overly technical jargon when speaking to non-technical individuals can make them feel alienated.” If you can tailor your message to the right audience, it will be seen as a real differentiator, he adds.
The greatest, most successful leaders are able to represent a necessary level of humility — something that holds true across all industries. “A good leader needs to take responsibility for failures and give credit for success,” Santiesteban says. “It’s too easy to create a dysfunctional team when leadership blames their team for any problems and then takes all the credit for their work.” A dysfunctional team dynamic, he adds, can lead to an erosion of talent, causing the team to lose some of its most talented members.
Decisiveness rests among one of the most critical aspects of effective leadership. “Leadership skills like this are invaluable because oftentimes a technical staff is managed directly by the computer and information systems manager,” Woodard explains, adding that a key role in this position is to influence positive change and progression.
A technical leader needs to possess a combination of experience, education and confidence to make the necessary decisions without analysis paralysis — or, wasting time over-analyzing a problem from the onset, Santiesteban adds.
4. Conflict management skills
Another marker of great leadership across industries is conflict management — a key factor in preserving team harmony, unity and effectiveness. “Creating an environment in which team members are not afraid to express ideas and technical options in a constructive manner is huge,” Santiesteban says. “A true leader is able to help a team arrive at the best decision with minimal conflict.”
5. Commitment to continually learn
“The best computer and information systems managers have one key thing in common,” suggests Andreas Giordimaina, CTO at Fusioo. What is that one key attribute? They are always eager to learn more. “Both small businesses and large corporations rely on information system managers not solely for technical and management expertise, but most importantly for advice. Someone who is up-to-date with the latest technology trends can help relieve some managerial stress,” he adds, stating that a master’s degree will clearly demonstrate a candidate’s desire and commitment to continually learn.
“About seven years ago, potential IT managers [were] able to find jobs as junior network administrators and gain experience with the tools they needed to work their way up to management, but that has changed,” Cox explains. Today’s computer and information systems managers will not get a call back without at least a bachelor’s degree, he says — adding that those he’s hired who possess a master’s degree have always stood out because of their advanced educational qualifications.
Are you ready to take the next step in your IT career?
It can be difficult to keep up with the rising demands of the IT world — especially if you’re looking to advance your IT career to the management level. However, if you heed the advice of our technology and hiring experts, you may find the doors beginning to open as you make your way toward working as a computer and information systems manager.
As Cox pointed out, advanced degrees can serve as the best at-a-glance indicator of a candidate’s level of commitment and willingness to work hard. With that in mind, a master’s degree may be the most sensible next step for your career. Learn more by visiting the Master of Science in information systems program page from Hodges University.
*Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 25,725 computer and information systems manager job postings, April 01, 2016 – March 31, 2017)