How Do I Become a Chief Information Officer?

If you have the leadership abilities to manage others, the vision to set big-picture goals and the business and computer skills to start making those goals a reality, you might be wondering how to become a chief information officer. A chief information officer is a type of computer and information systems manager that identifies the long-term technology and computer information goals of their company or organization and devises the business strategies to achieve these objectives. Various industries employ chief information officers, including computer systems design firms, finance companies, insurance companies, manufacturing companies and government agencies.

Chief information officers are primarily concerned with enhancing the efficiency of computer and information technology (IT) projects at every step. They may develop procedures and regulations for a variety of IT duties, including security, customer relations, business strategy, project management, revenue generation and business-process management. Chief information officers also keep track of the company’s IT expenditures and prevent their departments from going over budget. Though chief information officers work with technology, their main focus is not computers but business strategies.

Chief information officers work to streamline day-to-day tasks by taking advantage of automated processes and software, freeing up employees’ time for more vital tasks. Chief information officers may spend less time doing the hands-on technical work of building and maintaining websites and more time strategizing to meet goals and delegating tasks to make projects proceed more efficiently. In many companies and organizations, chief information officers spend a good deal of their time working across departments, helping managers and employees throughout the company solve problems and establish new technology procedures.

Aspiring chief information officers should begin the path to their career by earning a bachelor’s degree. The degree may be in computer science, information science, management information science or another relevant field. Coursework should focus on mathematics, software development, computer programming and may include studies in business, such as project management and finance. A bachelor’s degree may qualify candidates for entry-level positions in information technology. To advance to a managerial position such as chief information officer, candidates must gain years of experience in their field. Often, they must pursue a graduate degree, such as an MBA, to learn the advanced business and managerial concepts they need to succeed as a chief information officer.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates job opportunities for computer and information systems managers as a whole to increase by 18 percent by the year 2020, slightly faster than the 14 percent of job growth expected across all occupations during the same time period. Job search website lists the average annual salary for chief information officers as $87,000, significantly higher than the $33,840 median annual salary that the Bureau of Statistics reports for all occupations. If you enjoy working with computers and technology and have the ambition to make business-minded decisions from a leadership role, knowing how to become a chief information officer may be the start of an exciting new career path.

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