How to Become a Chief Information Officer

Many companies and organizations in a variety of industries rely on information technology to support and achieve their objectives. Chief information officers are senior executives that are responsible for the overall operation of information technology and computer systems.

What does a chief information officer do?

Chief information officers (CIO) are responsible for the overall function of technology of their organization. They propose the required information technology, create a plan, and implement that plan within the organization. They also support the technical needs of employees and ensure they are adequately trained on new technologies. They delegate technical decisions to a variety of employees and ensure tasks are successfully completed. Chief information officer observe many different activities in all departments and use a variety of information to project future needs and issues. They identify problem areas and implement strategies to effectively solve problems.

What kind of training does a chief information officer need?

Chief information officers typically need at least a master degree in information systems, computer science, network management, or other related field. Prospective chief information officers typically complete courses in information systems, information technology, business administration, computer science, and network management. Many aspiring chief information officers complete internships to gain practical experience and establish valuable contacts. Most chief information officers begin their careers in lower positions and advance to executive positions as they acquire the necessary skills and experience. Chief information officers usually complete regular continuing education and additional training throughout their careers to keep their skills up to date and stay abreast with advancements in their industry. They often participate in seminars and conferences on a regular basis.

What are the prospects for a career as a chief information officer?

Employment of all top executives, including chief information officers is expected to experience little to no change in employment from 2008 to 2018 (1). Projected employment varies greatly by industry.

Job prospects should be fair with strong competition. Chief information officers with extensive experience and strong leadership qualities will have the best job opportunities. Some job openings will arise from the need to replace chief information officers that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do chief information officers make?

As of February 2010, the average annual salary for chief information officers is $70,000; average annual chief information officer salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a chief information officer is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in information technology and providing leadership for their organization. Chief information officers must have a solid understanding of business processes and how to apply a variety of technologies to strategies and operations. Motivation, self-confidence, good judgment, and good negotiation skills are necessary characteristics. Chief information officers must have excellent communication skills and leadership capabilities. They must have a great business acumen and ability to make executive decisions to benefit the organization as a whole.

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