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How to Become a Computer Information Systems Manager

Shot of a programmer working on a computer code at night

We live in an amazing time in which we are able to harness technology to help us in our daily work and personal lives. Today, our home appliances, HVAC systems, and even our vacuum cleaner are part of the internet of things. Such “smart” appliances, in addition to our smartphones and smartwatches, increase the amount of information and control we have in our lives. With the increasing growth of network systems to handle all this information, the need for computer and information systems managers will grow.

What is a Computer and Information Systems Manager?

Computer and information systems (CIS) managers are responsible for overseeing technology-related needs within an organization. They design, manage and monitor information systems by collaborating with executives to set business and technical goals. In consulting with an organization’s top executives, a CIS manager helps set the information technology objectives and provides the leadership to implement the appropriate computer systems. Areas of expertise might include:

  • Comparing and integrating new information technology (IT) systems
  • Managing systems analysts, computer programmers, and other IT personnel
  • Setting up and troubleshooting networks
  • Creating cloud-based data storage
  • Managing databases
  • Coordinating operational activities
  • Training all staff in the use of new systems
  • Creating operating systems to improve the company’s customer service and interfacing software

An in-depth understanding of technology and a solid understanding of business principle allows CIS managers to keep an organization on a path to success by maximizing technology to meet their company’s growing needs.

If you are not sure exactly how computer information systems differ from computers and computer science, think of information systems as the result of combining hardware, software, and telecommunications networks. From this, we can create data that can be collected, analyzed, and distributed for use by businesses to optimize their production, labor force, services, and profits.

Careers for Computer and Information Systems Managers

Companies require CIS managers at all levels within the organization. Those with the least experience and a bachelor’s degree in computer and information systems management will become information technology project managers or just IT managers. IT project managers develop requirements, budgets, and schedules for their firms’ information technology projects. An IT security manager keeps the network and data secure. Such managers have expert knowledge of the best practices in information technology and keep up with all advances in technology and cyber security.

Management information systems (MIS) directors or information technology (IT) directors have earned a bachelor’s degree and have more than five years of related work experience. They ensure that the workers of an organization have the computing resources they need to do their jobs correctly and that clients have the resources they need to access the company’s products and services.

The C-level executives are at the top level within an organization (and at the top of the salary range). A chief information officer (CIO) directs the overall technology strategy for a business. Chief technology officers (CTOs) evaluate the newest and most innovative technologies and develop a vision for using them effectively to improve the business.

Challenges for CIS Managers

The biggest challenge for a CIS manager is to stay abreast of new technology to discern the best applications to keep their company operating efficiently and while staying within budget. Identifying the best software, hardware, data storage, and cloud computing all the while, budgeting, training, and keeping up with security needs are all part of the job.

Executives and business owners rely on their CIS managers to utilize the best technology systems to advance the business.

Duties of a Computer and Information Systems Manager

A computer and information systems manager will often specialize in a particular area within larger companies or corporations. At a smaller firm, you will be expected to wear many hats and solve their computer-related challenges.

Typically, the types of duties you will face include:

  • Analyze a firm’s computing needs and assess new systems and software to solve the issues at hand.
  • Research new software and computer hardware, selecting the best fit for your company’s needs and budget.
  • Oversee the installation, maintenance, and training of new networks and software.
  • Design security measures to keep networks and electronic data safe from hackers.
  • Weigh the costs and benefits of streamlining operations through new information systems.
  • Continue to keep abreast of new offerings, trends, and updates in technology, software, and platforms to maximize your company’s efficiency and profits.
  • Assess staffing needs for the IT department.
  • Manage and direct the computer-related staff under your leadership.
  • Sell the information technology your company offers to outside vendors.

Work-Life of a Computer and Information Systems Manager

Managers work full-time, and some log more than the standard 40 hours a week. Many positions will require their CIS manager to be on call to handle tech issues as they arise to keep their company operating smoothly. For those in e-commerce, an online shopping platform must function 24/7. Fully remote work is unlikely unless your position does not involve handling hardware.

How to Become a Computer and Information Systems Manager

A bachelor’s degree is recommended to advance your career to become a CIS manager as 46% of Computer and Information Systems Managers have bachelor’s degrees, whereas only 13% have high school diplomas. Nearly 30% of managers have an advanced degree. Therefore, it is essential to earn at least a bachelor’s degree to be a viable candidate for the Computer and Information Systems Manager position.

A degree in computer and information management systems is the first step. Employers expect candidates to possess computer-related experience of several years, up to five, working in information technology in addition to a degree. Management experience and a background in business are helpful to catch an employer’s attention to land a high-paying position.

Requirements Beyond a Degree

Few organizations offer on-the-job training for CIS managers. Experience in computer or information technology is required. Often five years of computer-related experience are needed to be hired for this role. It is also helpful to have management experience to prove you have a track record of managing people and projects successfully.

Up to 15 years of relevant work experience may be expected for higher-level roles, such as Chief Information Officers (CIOs). A CIO is often tasked with long-term technology goals for a company. In larger companies, a CIO is a top executive using their business and technology savvy. In small organizations, a CIO most likely would head an IT department and manage the day-to-day activities of their IT staff using their computer-related experience, education, and past work experience in IT.

Another higher-level position is Chief Technology Officer (CTO), which requires up to 15 years of work experience in technology and management. CTOs work directly with new technology, evaluating systems for the best fit for their company. A focus on technology over business skills distinguishes a CTO from a CIO. Depending on the structure of a firm, a CIO is over the CTO who will be the one to evaluate and recommend appropriate technological solutions to support the company’s goals. CTOs can also work across departments to help all staff with the new technology.

Soft Skills that will Benefit your Career

While education and experience are important, employers are looking for several soft skills. Soft skills are character traits inherent to you. Most employers want a computer and information systems manager with great people skills, also known as interpersonal skills, as they will be managing a staff of computer techs and analysts. Other personal qualities sought after include:

  • Organizational Skills. CIS managers will be required to plan and direct staff and projects within their department. Being able to streamline operations for maximum efficiency and flow is crucial.
  • Communication Skills. CIS managers must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with their staff, top executives, network support, and outside vendors. Both written and verbal communication skills are needed.
  • Leadership. CIS managers need the respect and cooperation of their staff, the executives in the company, and the vendors and suppliers who provide the products and services required to keep a company’s technology running.
  • Active Listening Skills. To be an effective leader, you must be able to hear what problem needs to be addressed and understand the needs of the executives, your staff, and your customers or clients.
  • Analytical Skills/Problem Solver. The ability to analyze challenges and craft solutions is imperative for anyone wanting to be a manager in IT.
  • Business Skills. The difference between an IT manager and a CIS manager is business savvy. The CIS manager will frame all their decisions in what is most profitable for the firm.

Sample Job Titles and Responsibilities

Computer and Information Systems jobs vary widely. Below are a few job positions with descriptions of job duties and requirements. This information was gathered from active job openings in 2021.

Computer and Information Systems Manager/Task Lead (Mid-senior level)

  • Will work in the Cyber Crime Center for the Department of Defense.
  • Serves as lead on cybersecurity matters across the department. Departmental goals are to create standards in multimedia and digital forensics and optimize training in investigating cybercrimes.
  • Responsible for further development of cyber threats and forensic analysis.
  • Requires bachelor’s degree and 15 years experience or master’s degree and 13 years experience.

Manager of Information Technology (Mid-senior level)

  • Responsible for maintenance and upgrading of systems, on-site training of systems to staff, creating policies and procedures, inventory and purchasing of hardware, and collaborating with others in the IT department on daily operations.
  • Will have strong leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills. Must have two years of WAN/LAN systems experience.
  • Prefer five years of IT help desk support.

Manager-Information Systems (Mid-senior level)

  • Manages the Information System (IS) department, directly reporting to the IS Director.
  • Oversees the IS Department delivering technical support and service. Responsible for customer satisfaction in service standards.
  • Maintains network, application, and PCs for the company.
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree in MIS or computer-related field with five years experience in IT.

Health Information Systems Manager (Mid-senior level)

  • Reports to the Director of Operations to plan, implement, and maintain health information data collection, database management, reporting, analytics, software, and hardware.
  • Adopts new technologies and stays up with advances.
  • Understands the technological needs of patients, staff, and executives to provide cost-effective, efficient, and evidence-based care.
  • Requires a bachelor’s in IT or related field, five years experience in health information systems, and a minimum of two years management experience.
  • Prefers five years of programming experience.

Computer and Information Systems Degrees

Employers are looking for candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science, or the most desirable—a degree in the newest concentration of computer and information systems management. Many programs incorporate a business administration curriculum to enhance the CIS background. A candidate who learns about both business and CIS offers their employer business savvy applied to the world of information technology.

Most degree programs offer an integrated education to provide graduates with strategic, technical, and managerial skills. Coursework that focuses on using computers as a platform to control and interact with information include:

  • System design
  • Enterprise security
  • Project management
  • Data management
  • Data analysis and modeling
  • Telecommunications systems
  • Network administration
  • User interfaces

A concentration in Management of Information Systems has been created at many schools as a result of demand. It is becoming the desired degree to hold as employers want the duality of management and business administration. Other employers need people with advanced graduate degrees, such as an MBA with a concentration in technology management or going beyond a bachelor’s degree for a master’s in management of information systems.

Why Study Online?

Online universities are ideal for learning computer and information systems management. Online platforms offer educational opportunities available to anyone seeking to advance their career to a high-paying job. Degree programs mesh business topics such as accounting and communications with information technology. All coursework has been specifically designed for optimal study through eLearning, and you can access highly-rated programs regardless of where you live.

While some CIS managers are employed with just an associate’s degree or some college courses, technology continues to change. The demand is for those with the most recent education from top online schools offering degrees in computer information systems management.

Entering the Field

To prepare for an MIS career, investigate any associate degree in computer science, computer information systems, or computer programming. The associate degree will help lay a foundation in computer science. Continue to earn your bachelor of science in business administration with a concentration in MIS online.

Computer and Information Systems Certification

Although certification is not required for most computer and information systems manager positions, getting private accreditation in a particular product or technology can give you an advantage over other candidates without expertise in a specific area.

Online Degree Programs for Career Change

Consider adding business and management coursework if you have on-the-job experience with specific computer technologies, such as databases, programming, network configuration, or web development.

Most computer and information systems managers have worked as systems analysts, computer support specialists, programmers, or other information technology professionals.

If you have earned a bachelor’s degree in an area other than computers but hold a solid computer job, such as programming or database development, consider an online graduate-level certificate in computer and information systems or an MBA with a specialty in CIS or MIS.

Computer and Information Systems Manager Career Outlook

The increase in the use of technology has more businesses using digital platforms. The demand for those who know how to design and utilize this technology and manage all the support workers involved with building, securing, and maintaining online platforms and data will increase.

Companies will need employees to fill the many computer-related roles required to bring online efficiency to their business. Workers will be required to upgrade computer networks as well as to improve computer security. Workers will also need to train non-computer staff in how to optimize their work using information technology. And with all those roles and the ever-changing technology, companies will need managers to ensure the smooth melding of business and technology to maximize profits.

Why CIS Managers are Important to Executives

CEOs and other executives cannot possibly keep abreast of all the changes and new IT offerings introduced at a rapid pace. Most executives do not know the different threats posed by viruses and worms and how to keep their systems secure. They will turn to a computer and information systems manager to help guide their business. Those with degrees in computer science, however talented, will fall short of being able to fill all the needs of these executives. It will take those with a current degree in computer and information systems management to rise to the challenge. Career opportunities will be available once you earn your online degree. The increase in the need for cybersecurity to protect networks will create a considerable demand for CIS managers.

The Growing Field of Information Systems

Areas of growth include all industries that will embrace new computer technology and those looking to improve their existing technology to optimize their services or manage their internal operations. Cybersecurity and healthcare-related technology will see growth and hence will need managers to lead the way. Other employers will range from local, state, and federal government to colleges and universities. Insurance companies, financial firms, management consulting companies, and computer systems design services will all be vying for graduates to fill their needs for computer and information systems managers.

The growth of cloud-based computing will also drive the need for more IT support and managers. Most industries embrace the cloud for their needs, increasing the demand for computer systems design, data management, and related services. The future looks bright for those who adapt to the ever-evolving technology and find the best solutions for businesses.

Computer and Information Systems Manager Salary

As a computer and information systems manager, you can expect to earn a six-figure salary. The national average, according to Glassdoor, is $175,585.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an increasing demand for these managers of more than 42,000 jobs per year. In 2020 there were nearly half a million computer and information systems managers working. The expected growth rate is 11%, making this field worthy of your investment in pursuing a degree.

Those overseeing computer systems design earned the highest salaries while those employed by colleges, universities, and professional schools made the least.

Why an Online Degree in Computer and Information Systems Management is a Solid Career Choice

A degree in computer and information systems management is applicable across all industries because technology has touched every area of our lives. This fact allows you to choose a concentration that holds an interest or special meaning to you. Perhaps you have overcome health challenges and want to work in healthcare with your degree. Maybe you love sports, and the thrill of using your CIS skills for one of your favorite teams would be a dream come true. An online degree in computer and information systems management can launch you to a lucrative career in a wide range of industries, helping to add interest and meaning to your workday. Life is too short not to follow your passions.

Find a Computer and Information Systems Manager Program Today!

The quote, “Change is the only constant in life” (by Greek philosopher Heraclitus) could be the ultimate truth regarding information systems. Change seems to come almost daily in systems, networks, software, and hardware. The need for networks within businesses and in our personal lives continues to grow. The acceptance of smartphones and other small electronic devices into our daily routines creates demand for information systems management. We take for granted our ability to perform various tasks online: shopping, banking, messaging, and information gathering.

The rise of cloud computing, online shopping, the Internet of Things, mobile computing, and Big Data all require managing the information systems that make these accessible to us.

Keeping pace with advances that can give us even more services at our fingertips also assures job security for those in computer and information systems management.

The need for network security and the growth of web-based commerce will drive much of this demand. Computer and information systems managers with security expertise and experience in web applications and Internet technologies will become vital to their companies.