What Does a Computer and Information Systems (CIS) Manager Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

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Image by Bailey Mariner © The Balance 2019

Computer and information systems (CIS) managers coordinate and direct computer-related activities for companies or organizations. They may go by one of several titles, each with different responsibilities. For example a chief information officer (CIO) oversees an entity's entire technology strategy. A chief technology officer (CTO) evaluates new technology to determine how it can benefit an organization. An information technology (IT) director manages an IT department. An IT security manager is responsible for network and data security.

Computer and Information Systems Manager Duties & Responsibilities

This job generally requires the ability to do the following work:

  • Analyze computer needs
  • Recommend possible upgrades
  • Oversee installation and maintenance of hardware and software
  • Negotiate with hardware and software vendors
  • Ensure network security
  • Stay up to date on new technologies
  • Oversee training on new equipment or software

CIS managers at smaller businesses or organizations might handle multiple IT roles in a hands-on fashion, while others at larger firms might focus on only one area, such as security or new technology.

Regardless of the area of focus, CIS managers are expected to have the expertise to identify and implement the best computer systems for a firm's needs. This inludes hardware, software, storage needs, cloud computing, security, training, and budgeting. Business owners and other high-ranking executives rarely have the IT expertise to know what is best for their needs, so they rely on their CIS managers to implements the best systems possible based on needs and budget.

Doing this might include building an entirely new system for a new business or for a business that is seeking to upgrade, or it might inlude analyzing and recommending changes for a business experiencing problems.

Computer and Information Systems Manager Salary

Pay for CIS managers can vary significantly depending on experience and demand.

  • Median Annual Salary: $142,530 ($68.52/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $208,000 ($100.00/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $85,380 ($41.05/hour)

Education, Training, & Certification

A bachelor's degree is necessary for most entry-level positions, and CIS managers will need extensive experience and perhaps a postgraduate degree.

  • Education: Most employers expect IT professionals to have at least a bachelor's degree with a computer science or information science major. Many others prefer employees who have earned a graduate degree, specifically a master's degree in business administration (MBA) with technology as a core component.
  • Experience: In addition to a degree, employers usually expect CIS managers to have several years of experience working in information technology. Computer and information systems managers start out in lower level management positions and advance to progressively higher leadership roles.

Computer and Information Systems Manager Skills & Competencies

In addition to the necessary technical knowledge and experience, computer and information systems managers also need certain soft skills, or personal qualities, to succeed in the field.

  • Communication: CIS managers often need to present technical information to other managers in a way that can help them understood why certain changes are necessary or why certain problems pose a risk. They also need to develop a culture where IT staff is able to communicate effectively with the employers using the computer systems that are in place.
  • Leadership: Someone in this position often needs to direct an IT staff or other IT departments.
  • Analytical skills: The job often comes down to assessing computer systems either to identify problems and find solutions or to identify ways they can be more efficient or more secure. As well, CIS managers need to be able to analyze the goals of the business or organization and how they want to be able to use their computer systems.
  • Organizational skills: Businesses often have multiple servers, multiple networks, and maybe even different departments using different types of computers with different operating systems. Overseeing layered and complex operations like these requires a high level of organization.

Job Outlook

Job growth for CIS managers is projected at 12 percent for the decade ending in 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is better than the 7 percent growth projected for all occupations. As more businesses and organizations move to digital platforms and to cloud computing, the need for cybersecurity and IT professionals will increase. While many businesses will continue to maintain internal IT departments, others will outsource with firms that provide IT services.

Work Environment

Work environments can vary greatly. Many large businesses or organizations have information technology departments or at least one IT specialist on staff. That means a qualified CIS manager can be employable anywhere in need of such technical expertise and experience.

Work Schedule

Base schedules can be consistent with standard business hours, but about one-third of CIS managers work more than 40 hours per week, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because of the nature of the work, they sometimes need to be available on short notice to deal with computer problems that might be interfering with production. Those problems can happen at any time, and implementing solutions sometimes can lead to later hours depending on the urgency of the issue being resolved.

How to Get the Job

RESEARCH

Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor all typically have listings numbering in the hundreds or even thousands.

APPLY

After reviewing openings, apply to as many identified job targets as seems appropriate.

EXPERIENCE

Get a foot in the door to gain the experience necessary to progress to a management position.

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