Professional Paths

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

This final article in my series looks at IT management. As I’ve said, there are no standard job descriptions in IT, but many duties are consistent between companies.

Data Center Manager

This position has been called operations manager, MIS manager, data processing manager, and technical services manager. As AS/400 installations have evolved to support multiple processors and platforms, the position’s name and responsibilities have shifted. In IBM mainframe environments, data center manager or MIS manager is the typical title. This position reports to the MIS director. Salaries range from $70,000 to $90,000, and responsibilities include the following:
• Analyze and formulate budgets
• Hire, train, and review operations staff, including computer operators, operations supervisors, communications technicians, help desk support, LAN administrators, and data control staff
• Plan system upgrades and supervise PTF upgrades
• Develop and maintain a disaster recovery plan
• Establish and maintain hardware and systems software service contracts
• Plan communications systems for the company, including remote sites (often includes phone system)
• Implement a security program, including firewalls

MIS/IT Director

For years, the computer department head was called the data processing manager. Today, the MIS (or IT) director is usually the top IS position. This position reports to the president or CEO. In large cities, typical salaries are $84,000 to $96,000 for a staff of three to eight, $93,000 to $110,000 for a staff of nine to 25, and $105,000 to $150,000 for a staff of 25 to 70. This position may be eligible for a management bonus or stock options. Responsibilities include the following:
• Create IT strategies to meet corporate needs
• Develop infrastructure to accomplish corporate goals

• Approve and manage the IT budget for hardware, software, and personnel
• Manage day-to-day functions of the applications development group and computer operations support group
• Plan installation and maintenance of IS support
• Analyze costs and provide cost/benefit justifications for projects
• Understand the value of current and future technologies


A Chief Information Officer (CIO) is a high-level executive who is more a business strategist than a technologist. This relatively new position is the result of CEOs realizing that businesses depend on IS and wanting to ensure they have a technologically competent executive with the foresight and authority to keep the company running in any contingency.

The CIO handles all IT planning and implementation and the daily operation of the IT department. This title is usually in corporate, government, and educational entities. CIOs can also be IT or MIS directors, but in large organizations, the IT or MIS directors report to them. Salaries for CIOs in medium-to-large installations range from $110,000 to $170,000. CIOs may also be eligible for a management bonus or stock options. Responsibilities are the same as for an MIS/IT director, but a CIO is responsible for the company’s ability to meet business challenges, such as Year 2000, disaster recovery, and contingency planning.

A Degree of Difference

For those aspiring to management in medium-to-large IT departments, a degree is a must. Today, many middle managers get advanced degrees, especially MBAs, to give themselves an advantage over their peers. Programmer/analysts have the luxury of a shortage of talent and many openings, making a degree not as relevant, but there are few management and director jobs, and competition is stiff. An advanced degree is often crucial to get a resume presented to a company.