5 Steps to Becoming a Computer Information Systems Manager

Research what it takes to become a computer information systems manager. Learn about education requirements, job duties, median wages and employment outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Industrial Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Computer Information Systems Manager Do?

A computer information systems manager supervises an organization's information technology department. They are responsible for overseeing all computer-related activities and working with organization and company leaders to determine the technological needs of the organization. They keep track of when the computer system may require an upgrade or new software or hardware, as well as the personnel who work within the computing department. The following chart gives you an overview about a career as a computer information systems manager.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree, some companies require master's degree
Education Field of Study Computer science, information science, management information systems
Key Skills Good analytical skills; leadership and decision-making; organizational skills; written and verbal communication skills
Job Growth (2014-2024) 15%* (for computer and information systems managers)
Median Salary (2015) $131,600* (for computer and information systems managers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Computer Information Systems Manager?

A computer information system manager is an administrator who oversees the information technology departments of businesses and other organizations. In this position, you may directly supervise programmers, project managers and support technicians on matters pertaining to network security, data distribution and technology implementation. Your specific duties might include developing organizational policies and goals, providing consultations on computing needs, hiring and training technical staff, evaluating a project's feasibility and facilitating internal cooperation. To be effective, you need technical knowledge, strong communication skills and business savvy.

Step 1: Obtain a High School Diploma

You need a diploma or G.E.D. to enroll in any postsecondary computers program. Any computer programming, computer science or business courses you take in school can help you prepare for college-level work. Courses that develop your communications skills and technical skills -- such as English, speech, algebra and calculus -- can be helpful as well.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree in computer science, computer information systems (CIS) or a computer-related area will provide you with basic technical and theoretical knowledge required for a CIS career. Although they may have content in common, computer science and CIS bachelor's degree programs have different areas of emphasis.

Computer science addresses theories of computation, information processing and algorithm design and the practical implementation of these concepts in hardware and software. Possible computer science courses include programming concepts, programming languages, system architecture and data structures.

CIS is primarily concerned with the use of computers as a platform and way to interact and control for information and communications technology systems. Courses in a CIS program might include data analysis and modeling, telecommunications systems, network administration and user interfaces. Some schools offer CIS as a concentration within a computer science program.

Step 3: Earn a Master's Degree

Employers often prefer candidates with a master's degree and many value a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a technical emphasis, such as computer information systems. MBA programs with a CIS concentration provide an integrated education in technical, strategic and managerial concepts. Course topics touch on system design, data management, project management and enterprise security. In addition to classroom lectures, case studies and individual or team projects help you develop the skills you will need to implement effective information systems.

Step 4: Participate in an Internship

An internship enables you to prepare for full-time employment by observing CIS managers at work and performing any duties in technical support, network administration or software engineering for which you're qualified. They also provide you an opportunity to build a network of contacts you could potentially draw on later. Some schools have standing relationships with local businesses to facilitate the process. Bachelor's degree and master's degree candidates are both eligible for internships.

Step 5: Obtain a Job

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics about 341,250 people worked as CIS managers in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Ongoing adoption of new computer technology and improvements to existing technology will drive growth. Growth is expected to increase in the areas of cybersecurity and healthcare-related information technology. Your leading options for employment include computer systems design and services companies, financial firms, colleges and universities, insurance companies, manufacturers, management consulting firms and government agencies.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

For those with a strong interested in computer and information systems, they may also want to look into a career in computer programming. Computer programmers develop the applications and programs that allow a computer to function. Individuals may also be interested in becoming a computer systems analyst. Analysts critically study an organization's computer system and create ways that the system could operate more efficiently and effectively.

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