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IT Manager Career Guide

What is an IT manager?

An information technology (IT) manager is the go-to person in a company for anything tech-related. They handle everything from making sure the computers work smoothly to protecting the company from cyber threats. They’re the planners who figure out how technology can help the company do better and ensure that the tech stuff aligns with what the company wants to achieve.

Duties and responsibilities

Their main job is to set up and manage the company’s tech policies and systems, including verifying that the network is safe and that everyone can use it without any hiccups. IT managers hire and lead a team of tech whizzes, train them, and help them grow. They also plan when to get new tech stuff and work with other company leaders to decide what technology the company needs without blowing the budget.

Work environment

IT managers usually work in an office, spending a lot of time on computers to solve tech problems, make plans, and monitor everything techy. But it’s not all about computers; they also work closely with teams and meet with other department leaders.

Typical work hours

Typically, IT managers have a 40-hour work week during regular business hours. But the tech world is full of surprises, so they often need to be ready to jump in and solve problems, even outside of the usual 9-to-5. Being flexible and ready for unexpected tech emergencies is part of the job.

How to become an IT manager

Here’s a step-by-step guide to becoming an IT manager:

Step 1: Get your degree

Start with a bachelor’s degree in something like computer science or information systems. You’ll learn all about computers, software, and how to solve tech problems.

Step 2: Gain some experience

Once you graduate, jump into the IT industry with an entry-level job. You might work in systems analysis, programming, or network management. Spend a few years there to really get the hang of how IT works in the real world.

Step 3: Earn relevant certifications

To show you’ve got the skills, earn some IT certifications. These could be in areas like Microsoft or Cisco systems, depending on what interests you and what your job needs. Certifications are a big thumbs-up to employers.

Step 4: Level up with a master’s degree

Not a must, but a master’s degree can help you stand out. This could be an MBA or a specialized tech degree. It’s great for learning the business side of things, which is super important for IT managers.

Step 5: Be a leader

Start showing off your leadership skills. You’ll need to be good at guiding a team, making decisions, and handling tasks. Try leading projects at work, joining workshops, or volunteering. It’s all about showing you can take charge.

Step 6: Apply for jobs

Now that you’ve got the skills, experience, and education, start applying for IT manager positions. Make sure your resume and cover letter shine with all the awesome things you’ve done and learned. It’s your time to step into the IT manager role.

How much do IT managers make?

IT manager salaries will vary by their experience, industry, education, location, and organization size.

Highest paying industries

  • Information: $152,510
  • Finance and Insurance: $149,730
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises: $146,830
  • Manufacturing: $143,220
  • Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services: $141,160

Highest paying states

  • New York: $170,410
  • California: $165,380
  • New Jersey: $163,560
  • Virginia: $159,320
  • Massachusetts: $157,740

Browse IT manager salary data by market

Types of IT managers

  • IT project manager: These are the team leaders for tech projects. They plan the project, figure out the budget, manage risks, and decide what resources to use. 
  • Information systems manager: This role is all about making sure the company’s tech runs without a hitch. They lead a team that fixes tech problems and brings in new tech solutions. 
  • IT security manager: Their job is to keep the company’s digital info safe from hackers and other threats. They set up security measures, check for vulnerabilities, and jump into action if there’s a cyberattack. 
  • IT operations manager: They’re in charge of the day-to-day tech stuff in a company. From looking after the network to ensuring all the hardware and software work, they do it all. 
  • IT service manager: These managers work to provide the best tech services inside a company. They talk to other departments to understand their tech needs and solve their problems. 

Top skills for IT managers

  • Tech savvy: As an IT manager, you’ve got to be a tech whiz. You should know a lot about software, computer hardware, and networks. 
  • Leader of the pack: You’ll be leading a team, so you need to be good at inspiring and guiding them. This means being great at solving problems, handling tricky situations, and motivating your team.
  • Strategy guru: Part of your job is making plans to help the company use technology to reach its goals. You also have to be ready to handle any surprises or changes that come up.
  • Communication pro: Being able to talk well is super important. You’ll need to explain tech things in a way that everyone can understand; it’s all about making the complex stuff simple.
  • Project management: You need to be able to plan things out, set deadlines, give tasks to your team, and keep an eye on how the project is going. Being certified in project management can be a real bonus.

IT manager career path options

Climbing to IT director

Once you nail the IT manager role, the next big step is becoming an IT director. Here, you’re in charge of all the tech stuff in your organization, meaning more planning, bigger tech projects, and leading a larger team. Think of it as being the captain of a larger ship in the tech sea.

Aim for the top: CIO or CTO

If you really want to shoot for the stars, set your sights on becoming a chief information officer (CIO) or chief technology officer (CTO). These are the big bosses in the IT world, making the major calls on technology in the company.

Specialize and shine

Not into the management climb? No problem. You can specialize in cybersecurity, data analysis, network architecture, or cloud computing. This might mean getting more certifications or even a master’s degree, but you’ll become a super expert in a field you love.

Be your own boss

If you feel like doing your own thing, you can become an independent contractor or consultant. Use your skills to give tech advice to businesses and organizations. It’s more flexible than a regular 9-to-5 job, but you’ve got to be disciplined and motivated.

The IT industry is becoming more complex and super important. Thanks to digital transformation, IT managers must be tech-savvy and smart about business. They’re not just keeping the tech running smoothly; they’re now playing a big part in making big business decisions, especially with all the data out there.

Now, these managers are all about using data to figure out the best moves for the business. They need to understand how to use all that information to make smart choices, and it’s a trend that’s big in a lot of industries, especially in IT.

Employment projections

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for IT managers is expected to jump by 16% through 2031, which is way faster than a lot of other jobs. This growth is because companies are investing in new tech and updating their digital stuff, which means more opportunities for these managers.

IT manager career tips

Embrace new technologies

Always keep up with the latest tech—new software, hardware, cybersecurity tools, and more. By understanding and using the newest technology, you can help your company stay ahead.

Know your business inside out

It’s not just about being good with technology. You need to really get what your company does, its culture, and its goals. This helps you make sure the tech you’re managing fits perfectly with what the company wants to achieve.

Lead like a pro

Being an IT manager means you’re also a team leader. Focus on guiding and growing your team, giving out tasks, and making smart decisions. Being a great communicator and motivator makes a huge difference.

Network, network, network

Building connections with other IT pros is key. Networking keeps you in the loop with the industry, opens up new chances, and helps your skills stay sharp. Consider joining groups like the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) or the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA).

Never stop learning

The IT world is always changing, so never stop learning. Look into certifications like Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or courses from places like MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Keeping your knowledge fresh is crucial for moving up in your career.

Where the IT manager jobs are

Top employers

  • IBM
  • Microsoft
  • Google
  • Oracle
  • Cisco Systems

Top states

  • California
  • Washington
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Illinois

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • Monster
  • SimplyHired


What are some daily responsibilities of an IT manager?

They typically oversee an organization’s technology infrastructure, making sure it’s reliable, secure, and up-to-date. Daily tasks may involve devising strategic plans for the IT department, solving technical issues, supervising a team of IT professionals, liaising with vendors, and enforcing technology policies.

What qualifications do IT managers need?

Most employers require a bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science, or similar fields. Real-world experience in IT is also a must, as it demonstrates problem-solving skills and an understanding of IT systems. Many companies also prefer candidates who hold relevant certifications, such as CISSP or ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) certifications.

What is the average work schedule like for IT managers?

As an IT manager, you should generally expect a full-time work schedule, typically a 40-hour week. However, because problems with the IT infrastructure can occur at any time, they may need to be on-call for emergencies or work overtime to address pressing issues.

Are there physical demands for IT managers?

In general, the role is not physically demanding. It’s predominantly office-based and involves sitting for long periods at a computer. However, there can be occasions where physical actions like lifting or moving equipment may be necessary.

What are some challenges that IT managers might face?

Some common challenges include keeping up with rapidly changing technology, managing tight budgets, ensuring the IT systems are secure from cyber threats, and maintaining system availability. Additionally, this occupation requires excellent people skills, as managing a team and communicating with different departments or external vendors are part of everyday tasks.

What skills are most important for success as an IT manager?

Technical expertise is fundamental. In addition, organizational, project management, and leadership skills are also crucial. Communication and problem-solving skills are also highly valued.

What are the most common industries for IT managers to work in?

They are prevalent in a wide range of industries as virtually all modern businesses rely on technology for their operations.

What is the outlook for IT managers?

Their job growth is predicted to be strong in the upcoming years, driven by the constant technological innovation and the need for organizations to stay current with IT trends and cybersecurity measures. Job prospects should be favorable, especially for those with solid technical and management skills.

What are the possibilities for advancement as an IT manager?

They typically advance by taking on more responsibilities, such as managing larger and more complex IT systems, leading a bigger team, or overseeing multiple departments. Some may move into upper management roles such as IT director, CTO, or even CIO, particularly in larger organizations where these roles exist.