While annual salary varies by company, seniority, region, and other factors, the median salary for an IT manager in the United States is $89,000.
With information technology needs expanding faster than a speeding TARDIS, it’s no wonder that the role of IT managers has become increasingly critical. These information technology professionals coordinate hardware-, software-, and network-related tasks to keep businesses efficient and minimize downtime.
If you’re interested in a career as an IT manager, hold on to your seat. We’ll tell you what you should know about the role.
What does an IT manager do?
An IT manager oversees information technology projects and initiatives within a company, including planning, coordination, and implementation. If the IT department is the crew of the USS Enterprise, think of the IT manager as Captain Kirk.
An IT manager may also be referred to by another job title, such as IT project manager, IT director, information systems director, database manager, CTO, or CIO. However, each related role typically has a slightly different focus and seniority level.
The responsibilities of an IT manager vary between companies, but they often include:
Developing business plans
Managing network security
Selecting necessary hardware and software
Defining and developing an IT infrastructure and architecture
Coordinating projects (upgrades, programming, system design, implementation)
Directing IT staff (sysadmins, programmers, database administrators)
Updating senior executives
What does the typical IT manager career path look like?
Virtually any IT-related role could serve as valuable experience to prepare you for an information technology manager position. However, each requires distinct education, training, and experience. IT managers come from many related fields, including:
System administration: Configure and maintain computer systems
Software engineering: Create computer software
IT program management: Coordinate IT programs to achieve larger organizational goals
IT senior project management: Plan and organize to meet specific IT goals
Most professionals who go on to become IT managers hold bachelor’s degrees in computer science, information technology, information systems, or a related field. Coursework in computer programming, software development, business, and math is often helpful. Some positions also require a graduate degree, such as an MBA.
Should IT managers wish to pursue an upper management role, they can frequently move towards the positions of IT director, chief information officer, and chief technology officer.
IT manager salary by seniority
In the United States, the average salary of an information technology manager is $89,000. However, location, seniority, industry, and other factors influence what you can expect to make.
According to Payscale, the average salaries by seniority are as follows:
Entry-level IT manager: $64,00-$69,000 per year
Mid-level IT manager: $69,000-$94,000 per year
Senior IT manager: $94,000-$101,000 per year
Average salary increases exponentially in areas with a higher cost of living, such as California and New York. U.S. News & World Report notes the highest salaries in these metropolitan areas:
San Jose, California: $235,040
San Francisco, California: $212,480
New York, New York: $201,320
Santa Maria, California: $187,620
Los Angeles, California: $184,170
IT manager vs. database or network manager
IT managers, database managers, and network managers share some similarities. However, each role coordinates a different facet of an organization’s information technology program.
An information technology manager has the broadest purview, overseeing the full scope of the company’s IT program. In contrast, database managers and network managers are more specialized. A database manager maintains and secures a company’s information storage. On the other hand, network managers work with networks, and systems managers focus on (you guessed it) computer systems.
All of these roles require technical expertise, problem-solving skills, and leadership ability. The main difference between each position is the focus.
How do you become an IT manager?
Get a degree
The vast majority of IT managers hold at least a bachelor’s degree related to computer science. In most cases, they’ve completed courses in programming, computer development, math, and business.
Completing a related master’s degree, such as an MBA, may give you a leg up on your path to becoming an information technology manager. Many IT professionals seeking management positions take courses towards an MBA part-time while working in the field.
Get IT experience
Like most management positions, you can’t just hop into an IT manager role without prior experience. Looking for an entry-level position that’s relevant to your future goals can help set you up for success. Consider what industry and specialty you hope to pursue before making any major career decisions. The right role can help future IT managers cultivate skills, network with other employees, and apply their knowledge to real-world situations.
Most IT professionals benefit from relevant certifications, and the same holds true for IT managers. Common certifications for IT managers include:
Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM): Demonstrates an understanding of the essentials of project management.
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): Verifies the ability to design, implement, and manage a cybersecurity program.
CompTIA Project+: Certifies that the professional has the foundational project management skills to coordinate small- to medium-sized projects.
TOGAF 9 Certification: Demonstrates understanding of The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) and its applications.
Build your skills
Advancing to an information technology manager role requires honing skills you probably already use in another IT role:
Information systems and operating system expertise
Decision-making and leadership
Get management experience
To prepare to lead people and projects, IT professionals need to develop management skills through relevant experience before taking on an information technology manager job. This will further elevate their planning, communication, decision-making, problem-solving, and other skills to help them excel as an IT manager.
If steering an organization’s information technology projects sounds like your dream job, you might be a natural-born information technology manager (you also might love some good ol' technology jokes).By cultivating the necessary skills, staying on top of your education, and gaining the right experiences, you can be on the path towards a fulfilling career. Stay in the know about IT with PDQ’s insights and videos, or jumpstart your career with a position at PDQ!
Part writer, part sysadmin fangirl, Meredith gets her kicks diving into the depths of IT lore. When she's not spending quality time behind a computer screen, she's probably curled up under a blanket, silently contemplating the efficacy of napping.