IT Manager Career Guide

IT manager

Table of Contents

Overview

Job Responsibilities

  • Assessment of a company’s computer-related needs and recommend the deemed necessary upgrades to top executives for consideration
  • Supervision of the installation of all computer hardware and software through planning and direct supervision
  • Supervision of the security of the company’s electronic and digital documents
  • Analysis and costing of new computer-related projects
  • Presentation of proposed computer-related projects to top executives
  • Observation of new trends in technology and ensure that the company keeps up by looking for ways to upgrade existing systems
  • Management of IT personnel (software developers, information security analysts, computer systems analysts, and computer support specialists)
  • Organization and direction of the activities of the department’s personnel

How Much Does an IT Manager Make?

IT Managers made a median salary of $142,530 in 2018. The best-paid 10 percent made more than $208,000 that year, while the lowest-paid 10 percent made less than $85,380.

IT manager median salary

Common Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree in a computer, information, or science-related field
  • Master of Business Administration
  • At least 5 years of IT-related job experience
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Leadership and Organizational Skills

Similar Careers

Computer and Information Research Scientists

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Computer Programmers

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Database Administrators

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Software Developers

Top Executives

Web Developers

Common Skills

HTML

C++

Python

IP Setup

JavaScript

Application Development

Information Management

Cloud Systems Administration

Leadership

TeamBuilding

MEDIAN SALARY

$142,530 per year
$68.53 per hour

JOB OUTLOOK

11%

NUMBER OF JOBS

414,400

A Comprehensive Guide to Becoming an IT Manager

Think of IT management departments as an organization’s nervous system. The IT team makes sure that all of the information and processes are streamlined into an efficient technological system. This ensures that things run smoothly, communications are clear, and information is uniform and accessible throughout the organization. 

IT Managers, therefore, are the brains of this system. They ensure that information and systems work as planned. They perform by overseeing all operations directly linked to computers and technology.

Knowing how important information and technology are in modern times, more and more businesses are eager to hire IT employees and IT managers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the IT management field is projected to grow by an impressive 11% in the next ten years. That is 6% more than the growth foreseen when accounting for all other occupations.

What Does an IT Manager Do?

Being an IT manager requires a person not only to have the smarts in technological know-how. They are also required a wider skill scope in terms of leadership and organization because of their management title. Below is a more specific outlook of their duties and responsibilities:

  • Almost all organizations and businesses have computer-related needs. It is the IT manager’s responsibility to evaluate these needs and recommend the deemed necessary upgrades to the company’s decision-makers for approval.
  • An IT manager also plans, facilitates, and supervise the installation of all computer hardware and software.
  • They ensure the security of the company’s electronic and digital files by protecting them from corruption or breach of information.
  • They analyze and account for new computer-related projects.
  • Afterwhich, they propose and present these projects to top executives for evaluation.
  • IT managers also make sure that they are updated in terms of trends in technology to ensure that the company keeps up by looking for ways to upgrade their existing systems.
  • Since they are managers, they lead the IT department and its personnel (software developers, information security analysts, computer systems analysts, and computer support specialists)
  • Planning and directing of activities of the department’s personnel.

Signs You Should Consider Becoming an IT Manager

IT managers share a specific combination of traits that make them perfect for the position. These are as follows:

You have a love for computers and technology

Understandably, as an IT manager, you will expect to deal with a lot of tech-related things. All IT professionals have a natural love for technology. This quality makes it more meaningful and enjoyable for them to deal with everyday tasks concerning computers. If you are a person who doesn’t easily get frustrated or daunted by computers, you may just be cut out for this type of work. 

A lot of IT professionals developed their love for technology at an early age -tinkering with computers and playing computer games. This early interest sticks into them so much so that they eventually get into computer science, or information and systems technology in their college days.

If you find that working with computers most parts of your day excites you, you should check out IT jobs. The good news is that these types of jobs aren’t that difficult to find. They are so in demand and this demand is projected to increase by a lot in the next decade.

You have a good level of knowledge or interest in coding

IT work requires a lot of technical knowledge. That is why the most basic prerequisite before applying as an IT manager, or for any IT position for that matter, is a bachelor’s degree in any IT-related course.

Most IT managers have an educational background in Computer Science or Information Technology. You will find that these courses dwell heavily around subjects like software development, computer programming, and Mathematics.

You like dealing with other people 

Probably the most common challenge among IT professionals is the part where they have to deal with other people. IT personnel are commonly misconceived as introverted people with their noses glued to their computer screens all the time. In reality, such is not the case.

IT managers deal with people all the time in the course of their duties. These people answer to all levels within the organization -top executives, fellow-managers from other departments, and members of the IT department. Not to mention also dealing with rank and file staff who are often end-users of the organization’s technology systems. 

Therefore, dealing with people should come naturally to you as well. While this may not be an easy feat for some, it is still possible to learn a social skill or two along the way. At the very least, an IT manager should be comfortable communicating with others. 

Leadership and organizational skills 

Even though the job entails a lot of dealing with technology, IT managers are still leaders in their field. They head the organization’s IT department and all IT personnel report to them. That being said, there should be a good amount of leadership skills within an IT manager.

On top of being able to lead a department, an IT manager is someone who is highly organized. This is because one of the main functions of an IT manager is to develop plans regarding tech-related responsibilities, to delegate tasks under the department, and schedule processes and activities related to systems upgrade and maintenance.

IT manager computer monitor

How Do You Become an IT Manager?

IT jobs are highly in demand and well-compensated. That’s why leading an IT department is highly lucrative and sought after by a lot of professionals who want to get ahead. However, the journey to an IT management position is sometimes long and arduous. If you want to climb to the top as an IT executive, here’s how:

1. Complete an IT-related bachelor’s degree

As with many professional fields, an IT management position requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in an IT-related course. Ideally, the course you are looking at should brush on a lot of Maths, computer programming, software development, and the likes. There are programs on Management Information Systems that deal with both business and computer-related subjects. Such courses are ideal because the touch on both the IT and the managerial aspects of your targeted position.

2. Apply for an entry-level IT position  

Climbing the career ladder always means that you have to begin on the ground. A junior position or even a clerk at an IT department is a great start if you want to eventually end up as an IT manager. 

Some entry-level IT positions include:

  • Applications Developer. 

In this position, your main role would be to develop applications or software that allows workers in a company to process information efficiently. That being said, you’ll be responsible for determining the workers/users’ needs in terms of apps and implement your work to better their functions.

On top of that, once you can put in place your software, it is also your role to seek feedback from your end-users to see where you can make your application even more helpful to increase their productivity.

  • Tech Support Specialist

The primary job of this position is to support or help end-users whenever they encounter problems with their computers or the software. They are the go-to troubleshooters whenever software or hardware difficulty is met and they also should be able to do repairs.

Aside from helping end-users, tech support specialists are also responsible for maintaining network and internet systems. They are also the ones who train and continually update end-users on how to use the computers and the applications.

  • Systems Analyst

These professionals analyze an organization’s need for IT, and they do so by consulting with the organization’s members -from top executives to rank-and-file personnel. 

They seek out options that could enable an organization to optimize its information processing and oversee the implementation of systems upgrades. Because of this, they have to be updated in the latest trends in technology.

  • Web Developer

Web developers, as the title implies, work vastly with web-related technology. They must develop websites that incorporate what their organization is all about and what it wants to achieve.

These people work closely with other IT personnel such as application developers to incorporate the software or apps into a company’s website. Aside from that, they are the ones who run and maintain an organization’s website.

  • Network Administrator

Network administrators handle internal communications, local area networks, intranet -basically everything that concerning internal connectivity and information processing. What they do is recommend, install and keep the internal flow up and running for everyone in the organization.

Not only that, they are the ones who are responsible for setting and maintaining security protocols by identifying threats and establishing internal security processes. For any network or performance problems, network admins are the go-to guys.

  • Systems Engineer

Merging science and innovation, systems engineers create and customize computer systems that cater to specific organizations depending on their needs. They can also do this with pre-purchased software by tweaking it to fit a company’s specific process.

Because of this, systems engineers work hard and closely with software and hardware engineers, technicians, administrators, and everyone else in the IT department. 

These professionals supervise the implementation and maintenance of systems software. They are the ones who put together all the needed information for an organization to effectively communicate and function. Aside from that, they are also responsible for protecting all of their organized data from threats.

3. Gain IT work experience

If you want a management position in the IT field, a good background of experience in an it-related position as discussed above is essential. The required length of experience varies from organization to organization. Smaller, newer companies tend to be more lenient. Larger, more established companies tend to require a more extensive background.

For lower-level managers, a few years of IT work will do, but for higher management positions such as if you are aiming for an IT Director stint, you might have to take on at least five up to ten years of IT work experience. If you are part of a particularly large organization, they usually employ a Chief Technology Officer or someone who oversees an entire technology plan for a company. A CTO position will need more than fifteen years of IT background to be considered for the position.

When gaining experience in the IT field, it would be helpful to find an industry you could work with and stick to it. IT is generally applied in almost all aspects of today’s economy, but it is best to pick one thing to specialize in. For example, if you plan on directing a hospital’s IT, you should start somewhere along the lines of the healthcare field.

4. Complete an MBA

If you have a basic educational background in IT, your company might want you to take on graduate studies in Business Administration (MBA). With an MBA, you get to refine your knowledge of management on top of your IT expertise to best be able to manage an IT department. The MBA course could be a prerequisite for promotion, or your company might allow you to take classes while already on the job.

5. Apply for an IT management position

There are three basic things you need to prepare when applying for an IT manager position:

Resume

As with any other job application, a resume is always required when applying to become an IT manager. If you have an existing resume, make sure to update it. If not, this is the perfect time to create one. Having a ready resume shows the hiring manager your eagerness for the position. Typically, the highlight of a resume is a summary of your work experience -particularly the ones which are most relevant to the position you want to apply for. Dedicate a line or two in describing your main responsibilities with each job.

Another important component of your resume is your list of skills and expertise. Make sure to include those that are useful for IT management. You can bullet these to make them easier to comprehend.

Letter of Interest

Otherwise known as a cover letter. This letter should clearly express your desire to become an IT manager. It should also make the reader want to get to know you more or to compel them to call you for an interview. You can do this by giving them a brief idea of your work background, your good qualities, and how you could propose to add value to the company. Take note of the qualities and characteristics that they specifically look for and try to incorporate these in your cover letter.

Experience

As previously discussed, experience is an important factor when considering an IT management position. This is because IT managers need to know the basics of an IT job and have vast experiences in handling situations that commonly arise in the IT field. Make sure to document all of your work experience as you might need to show proof of employment for each job. Work certificates and payroll receipts are some of the documents you can prepare as your proof of employment.

However, if you are eyeing a promotion that is right in your company, you can practice a few things to increase your chances of getting considered for the position:

Be noticeable.

It is one thing to perform well and be commended by your immediate supervisor, but it will be easier for him or her to recommend you for a higher position if other executives notice you as well. Do your job well, and make sure that decision-makers are aware. You can do this by providing updates and preparing status reports as well as claiming ownership of the work you’ve done.

Take on leadership roles.

Nothing proves how ready you are for a management role than when you are practicing it. Rise to the occasion, volunteer to head a few tasks here and there. Demonstrate your leadership abilities. This provides them a glimpse of how you could be as a manager.

Express your ambitions.

Ask for it. Don’t just wait for an offer because most of the time, top executives consider hiring managers from a pool of people whom they know want the position. You can let your skills speak for themselves, but you can give it a boost by actually speaking up for yourself.

Monitor your progress.

The path to IT manager may seem straightforward, but that does not mean that you don’t need to know where you stand. Take notes of where you are in terms of performance and work relationships. Afterward, make a target of where you want to be and when.

What are the Knowledge and Skills Needed to be an IT Manager?

For you to function effectively as an IT manager, you should have the following skills:

Coding

This is the most basic foundation of an IT manager’s pool of knowledge. There are several programming languages that you need to master to function effectively:

  • Python
  • C++
  • Java
  • Ruby/Ruby on Rails
  • HTML
  • JavaScript
  • C Language
  • Objective C
  • C#
  • PHP
  • SQL
  • Swift

On top of these, an IT manager should also be well-versed in application development, artificial intelligence and, one of the recent developments, cloud computing.

Communications

IT managers are not just purely computer persons. They too are people persons. That is because they are expected to lead and oversee several people under them. They also collaborate and cooperate with same-level managers of different departments. On top of that, they do presentations and make proposals to higher-level executives.

Some of the most useful skills in this area are team-building, written and oral communication, and the ability to relay complex computer-related information in digestible form. The latter-most is probably one of the most important skills since you need to be able to effectively convey new technology to end-users who are not computer experts.

Leadership

The main hallmark that distinguishes an IT manager from other IT professionals is their leadership ability. To be an IT manager, you should be able to inspire teamwork, cooperation and encourage better performance from people in your team. On top of that, you should also be able to effectively collaborate with fellow managers to ensure smooth processing within the organization. 

Time Management

Being a leader means managing different tasks daily. You will be communicating with several people repeatedly within any given period and you might also be managing personnel who work remotely. This means that you should be comfortable with multitasking.

Time management skills are paramount to succeed in the field of IT management. Meeting deadlines are among your top priorities. You should be able to set goals and schedules that align well for efficiency in your department’s function.

If you think that the IT management path is your calling, enrolling in some of the country’s leading IT and IT management schools gives you a great kick-start for your dream career. Below are some of the top-notch schools to consider for this field:

  • Cornell University -Ithaca, NY
  • New York University -New York, NY
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute -Troy, NY
  • Carnegie Mellon University -Pittsburgh, PA
  • Lehigh University -Bethlehem, PA
  • Arizona State University -Phoenix, AZ
  • Brigham Young University -Provo, UT
  • Purdue University -West LaFayette, IN
  • Georgia Institute of Technology -Atlanta, GA
  • University of Washington -Seattle, WA
  • Syracuse University -Syracuse, NY
  • Illinois Institute of Technology -Chicago, IL
  • Rochester Institute of Technology -Rochester, NY
  • Pennsylvania Institute of Technology -University Park, PA
  • University at Albany -Albany, NY
  • Florida State University -Tallahassee, FL
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology -Newark, NJ
  • DePaul University -Chicago, IL

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How to Get a Job as an IT Manager

IT managers are middle to top-level positions, so it is likely that you are looking for a promotion to level you up. Nevertheless, it is also possible that you are simply looking for a fresh start with a new company in this particular position. Here are a few ways you can bag a job as an IT manager:

Look within your company for manager-level vacancies

This is applicable if you are already a tenured IT personnel and you would want to advance to the next level within the same organization. Look upwards into the managerial line for any vacancies or a foreseen need for a new team leader. And then, make your interest known so they can consider you for the position.

Search online for job opportunities

Gone are the days where job ads are limited to published print. Especially since you are seeking to fill an IT position, chances are, you’ll find your next job online. Here are some of the most popular job posting sites you can click through:

Participate in a job fair

If you want live action in your application process, you can opt to check out job fairs closest to you. The advantage of job fairs is that you have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with hiring managers and business owners so you have a better chance of wowing them and being considered for the job.

Learn About Geographic and Location Pay Differentials

IT personnel are some of the best-paid professionals in the country. The job outlook is very good and compensation is impressive. It’s no wonder that many Americans seek out IT positions. Have a look at last year’s mean annual wage for IT managers and you’ll see how attractive the pay is for this career:

State2018 Mean Annual Wage
New York$190,310
California$180,250
New Jersey$176,690
Virginia$173,290
Delaware$169,720
Colorado$164,220
Washington$159,290
Massachusetts$156,620
Maryland$154,870
Texas$154,650
Connecticut$147,440
New Hampshire$147,440
Pennsylvania$146,860
Rhode Island$146,550
Georgia$143,930
Illinois$143,900
Minnesota$143,300
North Carolina$142,330
Arizona$137,420
Ohio$135,510
Nevada$134,840
South Dakota$132,190
Michigan$131,100
Missouri$130,610
Oregon$129,680
State2018 Mean Annual Wage
Florida$129,540
Iowa$126,560
Alabama$126,300
Wisconsin$124,770
Hawaii$124,660
Indiana$124,490
North Dakota$124,450
Maine$124,130
Vermont$122,960
Nebraska$122,450
Utah$121,570
South Carolina$120,720
Kentucky$119,470
West Virginia$119,430
Kansas$119,050
Tennessee$118,660
Oklahoma$114,670
New Mexico$114,120
Louisiana$112,860
Arkansas$109,890
Alaska$107,610
Montana$104,630
Idaho$102,910
Wyoming$102,120
Mississippi$100,300

Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Make Your Resume Stand Out

Especially if you are applying online with no physical presence to charm the hiring manager, a solid resume is your best bet. Make sure to highlight these key points when crafting your curriculum vitae:

Educational Background

All IT jobs require a basic IT school background. If you happen to be a graduate of one of the prestigious IT schools listed above, make sure to include that. Try to also include a few important specifications such as significant courses taken.

If you took on graduate studies, highlight that as well. An MBA on top of an IT background screams readiness and eligibility for an IT management position.

Awards and Certifications

Did you graduate with honors? Did you take extra classes outside of the curriculum that contributed to the advancement of your knowledge? Did you attend other training and seminars such as advanced programming, business, or leadership? All of these are plus factors that may just impress your prospective employers. 

Significant Work Experience

All IT-related jobs you have held in the past must be accounted for in this section. You must also include the duration which you have served under each job. This enables your employer to gauge the amount of experience you have in the field. This is also an important basis when considering someone for a management position in the IT department.

Significant Work Accomplishments

Showing that you’ve got the tenure to prove your experience is one thing. Showing that your tenure was fruitful is another. List your biggest accomplishments throughout your entire career. It could be initiating a start-up’s computer system, increasing a company’s productivity through efficient technological applications, and many more.

Ace Your IT Manager Interview

When preparing for the big day of the interview, make sure to look as sharp as possible. Remember to practice good eye contact, be spontaneous, and be as true to yourself as possible while maintaining a professional demeanor.

Below are a few questions that might be hoisted your way, what they mean, and how you can best tackle them:

1. Describe your management style. 

This is a direct assessment of your leadership methods. Try to ask yourself: Are you laid-back? Are you hands-on? Do you peer into everything your people do? Do you welcome frequent queries? Do you want your people to learn on their own?

Once you figure out your management style, try to identify its benefits. Does it allow your people to grow independently? Does it make them feel secure in their daily function? Does it foster trust? Does it encourage creativity?

2. How do you define success? 

This lets the hiring manager know the things that matter to you most. Because success is subjective, it can be based off on the numeric performance of your team, the efficiency of your communication, the quality of your working relationship, or the team’s overall contribution to the company.

3. How do you handle conflict within your team? 

One of the tasks of a manager is to make sure that everyone under their supervision gets along well enough for the team to function properly. Try to provide examples of previous conflicts you handled and the positive outcomes that came after your intervention.

4. Recount a time when you had to fire an employee. 

Yet another task a manager has is to decide on keeping or letting go of an employee. This is, no doubt, an undesirable task for many. When answering this question, make sure to be sincere about your feelings while sticking to the facts of the event that led to your experience.

5. How do you motivate people? 

Possibly the most crucial task a manager has to do is to motivate people under their team. Good motivation skills give personnel a better drive and increase team performance significantly. Some examples are meeting your team members’ individual needs, providing support and guidance, and offering some form of incentive.

6. What is your biggest weakness? 

Anyone who has attended a job interview knows this to be a trick question. However, you don’t need to make up a complicated story of your weakness turning out to be a strength and saving the day. You can simply sincerely identify your weakness, how you came to be aware of it, and the steps you have or are currently undertaking to address it.

Top Online Courses for Aspiring IT Managers

Sharpen your skills in IT management by taking these top online courses

IT Management combines the best of technical computer work with people management.  Here are some of the most useful courses you can take to hone your skills and capabilities as an IT Manager:

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