Learn About Being an IT Manager
Updated January 26, 2023
What does an IT manager do?
IT managers are information technology professionals who plan, direct and oversee activities dealing with a company’s computer and information systems. The IT manager coordinates jobs related to the hardware, software and network that the business uses. Common responsibilities for an IT manager include:
Evaluating the organization’s IT needs and finding ways to improve the products and systems in place for enhanced productivity, security and efficiency
Recommending upgrades and enhancements to top management, explaining the key benefits of new tech-based investments for the business
Developing and overseeing the IT policy, security measures and best practices for the company
Scheduling and supervising IT projects such as upgrades, migrations, system updates and outages
Managing IT team members, assisting in performance evaluation and offering guidance for advancement within the company
Identifying opportunities for IT training and developing classes that will equip employees to make the best use of the products and systems available
IT managers typically work full time. If there’s a major problem or downtime, IT managers may have to work overtime, putting in long hours or working through the weekend until the problem is solved. Salaries may also depend on their level of education and experience as well as their geographic location and employer.
Common salary in the U.S.: $91,826
Some salaries range from $26,000 to $180,000 per year
IT manager requirements
IT managers have complex jobs that require an in-depth knowledge of business, management and information technology and often includes a combination of the following:
Employers typically require IT managers to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science, management information systems (MIS), management or a related area. This background should include courses in software development, computer programming, business and mathematics.
Many employers prefer an IT manager with a graduate degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Pursuing an MBA full time takes about two years, but aspiring IT managers may also choose to get their MBA while gaining work experience in an IT-related position. Though this path takes longer, it allows them to earn an income while completing a master’s degree.
IT managers typically get the training and experience they need as they advance through other jobs that lead to this position. IT managers usually have several years of experience in IT-related jobs that include time in lower management. They typically learn practical troubleshooting, identify processes that can be improved and become well-versed in the software and hardware companies use. On-the-job training is often minimal for a newly hired IT manager and consists primarily of a brief orientation with the company to understand its culture, policies and practices.
There are several certifications available that can help these professionals increase employability as an IT manager, possibly increasing their earning potential:
Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM): The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers this certification to recognize a project management professional, such as an IT manager, for their effectiveness of handling project teams. To get this certification you must have at least a high school diploma or associate’s degree, complete 23 hours of project management education and pass the 150-question exam in three hours. Recertification is required every five years.
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): The (ISC)² offers CISSP certification which covers risk management, project management and organizational structure as they pertain to security in the IT landscape. To earn this certification you must have at least five years of experience in two or more of the eight domains that make up the (ISC)² CISSP Common Body of Knowledge. You must then pass the exam which covers all eight domains.
CompTIA Project+: The CompTIA Project+ certification equips IT managers to efficiently handle small to medium size projects. It’s recommended that candidates get 12 months of project management experience before sitting for the exam. This test has a maximum of 95 questions and must be completed in 90 minutes.
TOGAF 9 Certification: The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) methodology provides a framework for enterprise software development. This approach aims to align IT and business goals, improve cross-department communication and eliminate process errors. This certification is available from third-party vendors.
IT managers need a well-rounded skill set that equips them to handle tech-related IT issues as well as the people-focused tasks involved in business management. The following skills will help you strengthen your resume for a job as an IT manager:
Time management: IT managers must schedule updates, downtimes, training and other tasks carefully. Proper time management will ensure that IT systems are available when they’re needed most and taken down for maintenance at the most opportune times.
Problem-solving: Managing IT systems and staff requires strong problem-solving skills. Security threats, bugs, glitches and other errors can occur at any time and require a quick, calm response. These professionals combine critical thinking skills and their vast technical knowledge to identify and assess errors, implement solutions and anticipate impending results.
Budgeting: IT managers play a key role in managing the business’s budget. They use their understanding of a company’s budget and are able to identify effective solutions within the company’s means.
Leadership: Leadership skills will equip IT managers to handle the individuals on their teams efficiently. They must use conflict-management and resolution as well as motivation and organization to effectively manage teams.
Communication: Strong communication skills allow an IT manager to explain technical issues to others at various skill levels so that individuals from other departments with less technical knowledge can still understand the process and technology solutions. They must also use clear and direct communication when providing guidance on IT tasks to team members.
IT manager work environment
IT managers typically work in an office environment and spend a significant portion of the day at a desk on a computer. They’re often expected to sit for long periods though they may regularly visit other internal stakeholders for meetings and discussions on IT solutions and updates on systems.
They are often in fast-paced environments facing deadlines, working with limited budgets and handling complex problem-solving. IT managers are needed in a variety of industries and companies that utilize technology and software to conduct business. Some may specialize in a certain type of IT needs early in their career to become experts in those needs, such as in the fields of healthcare, government and security.
How to become an IT manager
Becoming an IT manager typically takes several years of education and experience. This is an upper-level role that you need to work toward with plenty of other, related jobs. The following steps will help you prepare for a career as an IT manager:
Earn a bachelor’s degree. As an IT manager, you will need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology or a related field.
Gain relevant work experience. Find a job related to computers and IT, such as tech support, systems specialist or IT specialist to begin your professional trajectory to management. These entry-level positions offer hands-on application of the knowledge learned in a university-level program.
Pursue an MBA. Consider earning an MBA to help you further your education and gain the skills needed to excel in management. Employers seeking IT managers often prefer this level of education to ensure candidates are qualified.
Attain leadership experience. Seek a professional leadership role within the IT field, such as IT project manager, which can give you the opportunity to demonstrate your management skills.
Complete professional certifications. Pursue one or more professional certifications in IT and management that will demonstrate your expertise in these areas. These can also prove your qualifications to prospective employers or a current employer you wish to advance to an IT manager position.
Build your resume. Craft a resume that highlights your IT skills as well as your leadership experience. Feature any projects that you had a leadership role in, and include specifics pertaining to your achievements, such as how much you increased productivity with a particular upgrade.
Seek IT management positions. Search for IT manager jobs in your intended area or with companies you’re interested in working for. Other job titles you may want to watch for include IT director, technical project manager and director of technology.
IT manager job description example
Seeking an IT manager to oversee our IT department and keep our computer systems and networks running efficiently. You will be responsible for recruiting and training IT staff members, developing and implementing policies and procedures, scheduling and executing installations and updates and identifying areas for improvement. The ideal candidate has a B.S. in Computer Science or a related field and a minimum of five years of experience in IT. An MBA and previous management experience are preferred.
If you’re interested in a similar position in the field of information technology, consider some of these options:
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