How to Become an IT Manager

As more and more technologies become a critical part of businesses, the demand for qualified Information Technology managers has continued to increase. After all, someone has to manage all of the technology a business uses to be successful.
IT managers are responsible for managing all computer systems within an organization, updating existing technologies and introducing new technology when the needs of a business changes.
IT managers are in demand worldwide as more companies rely on technology for their core operations. As a result, IT managers earn impressive salaries and have excellent job prospects.
But how do you become an IT manager? In this guide, we’re going to answer that question. We’ll give you all the information you need to decide whether a career as an IT manager is for you. Then, we’ll cover the expected salaries for IT managers and how you can break into this exciting field.

What is an IT Manager?

Information Technology managers have two main responsibilities within an organization: to manage its technology and manage other technical staff.
IT managers will oversee all of the technology a business uses, from phones to computers. This involves keeping the technology secure and updated while also ensuring it is being used optimally and for its intended purpose.
An IT manager will write and implement policies to ensure technology is used correctly within a business. They will also create plans to protect the business and its data in the case of a system failure.
IT managers oversee all of the employees within an IT department. They’ll interview and train new employees for the IT team, such as system administrators or database administrators.
They’ll ensure employees are motivated and always have something important to work on for the department. IT managers are also responsible for managing the budget for the IT department and presenting their conclusions to a management team.
Here are the main job responsibilities of an IT manager:
  • Manage IT and computer systems
  • Ensure data is secure and backed up
  • Design and implement policies on how technology should be used
  • Recruit, train, manage and support IT staff
  • Audit systems and evaluate whether they are useful based on the business’ needs
  • Introduce new technologies into the business
  • Preserve information security and control data permissions

If you’re interested in learning more about positions in software, read our software engineering career guide.

What Does an IT Manager Do?

IT managers oversee and maintain Information Technology within an organization. They’ll work with other members of the business to understand their technological needs and use that information to decide how technology should be used within the organization.
In addition, an IT manager works with product vendors to negotiate deals on software and hardware. They also manage maintenance of and upgrades to the company’s hardware and software. IT managers also have to work with other members of the IT team to decide what technology a company can afford.
The exact responsibilities of an IT manager will depend on the organization, but all IT managers will be managing both technology and people. They’ll answer to either the Director of IT, Chief Technology Officer or the CEO.

IT Manager Job Outlook

IT managers have a strong job outlook as experts predict businesses will continue expanding their digital operations, meaning they will have more technology in need of management.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in “computer and information systems management” are expected to grow by 11 percent by 2028. The bureau describes this growth as "much faster than average".

How Much do IT Managers Earn?

IT managers command impressive salaries. According to Glassdoor, positions in IT management offer salaries ranging from $74,000 to $142,000. The national average salary for IT managers is $107,300 per year.

The exact amount you can expect to earn as an IT manager will vary depending on the company for which you work and the location in which you reside. IT managers at companies with large technology needs can expect to command higher salaries than those who work at a startup, which typically have lower IT demands.

An IT manager will earn an average of $134,700 in San Francisco, but the same IT manager will earn an average of $109,500 in Atlanta, GA. After accounting for local costs of living, it’s clear how much of a difference location makes for jobs in IT management.

The amount you earn will also depend on your level of experience. IT directors, who oversee all IT within a business and typically have more experience, earn an average of $142,800. Keep in mind these figures do not include employee perks, stock options or other benefits, which you should take into account when you’re evaluating a job offer.

How Can You Become an IT Manager?

There are many different paths you can take to become an IT manager, but the most common routes fall into one of the following categories:
  1. Attend a software engineering coding bootcamp
  2. Pursue a degree in Computer Science at a college or university
  3. Learn IT management through self-study
Each path has its own benefits and drawbacks. In the past, most IT managers were college graduates, but this has changed over the past few years. There are now many successful IT technicians who are self-taught or who attended coding bootcamps, an exciting new option.

Coding bootcamps have proven their viability over the past few years as an exciting alternative to a college education. During a bootcamp, you’ll learn all of the practical skills you need to succeed in a career in IT management. Most bootcamps typically last less than a year, which means you can make the transition into your job in technology quicker than you would if you took the college route.

During the bootcamp, you’ll work with mentors and instructors to build a portfolio of projects to showcase your skills and abilities to employers. You’ll also receive career support within the bootcamp as mentors or instructors will assist you with writing a resume or preparing for an interview. These same monitors and instructors will also share their industry connections to link you up with potential employers.
Some IT managers attend a college, where they explore computing and low-level programming throughout a four-year computer science degree. Other IT managers are self-taught and learn systems administration and programming themselves. However, the aforementioned coding bootcamp route has now emerged as the most practical option.
Coding bootcamps allow you to learn all the skills you need to break into a new career in technology in just a few months.

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Top Skills Needed for IT Manager Careers

In order to become an IT manager, there are a few skills you’ll need to develop and refine. Let’s break these skills down, starting with the technical skills IT managers need.

Essential Technical Skills for IT Managers

There are a couple of technical skills you’ll need to know in order to become an IT manager. These IT management skills include programming languages, systems administration concepts and other processes.
  1. Knowledge of a Programming Language:

    While you won’t be programming all day like other members of a technical team, you should still know at least one programming language. Knowing a programming language will make it easier for you to understand various technical concepts and will also allow you to write code to automate common processes within the IT department.

    Some programming languages you may want to consider learning include C++, JavaScript, Python, Shell Script, PHP and Ruby.

  2. Networking:

    As an IT manager, you’ll need to be an expert in networking. You should understand how systems come together and work, and understand the anatomy of a network. You should be adept at setting up wireless routers, server setups, cybersecurity and cloud services, along with being able to navigate and manage a server.

  3. Database Administration:

    As an IT manager, you’ll likely be responsible for overseeing any internal database a company uses. You should have a strong understanding of how databases work, and how to query and amend a database. You should also know how to manage, update and maintain a database.

  4. Computer Hardware:

    In addition to software skills, you’ll also need to be comfortable working with computer hardware. You should understand the hardware behind computers, servers, networking systems and any other pieces of technology your company uses. This means you should be able to fix them if any errors arise.

  5. Web Services/Cloud:

    Knowing how to interact with web services is a crucial part of being an IT manager. You should know how web services and APIs work, and how you can use them within the IT department and the broader organization. You should also be comfortable working with cloud services and know how to respond to problems with cloud technologies.

Essential Soft Skills for IT Managers

IT managers need more than just technical skills to be successful. You’ll need a set of soft skills as well to thrive in any IT management position. The top soft skills you can expect to use on the job include:
  • Communication:

    Communication is an essential part of any position in technology. You’ll be working with other members of an IT team, who you’ll also need to manage. In addition, you’ll be liaising with other members of the company, from sales to management. As a result, you should know how to effectively communicate and share information with others.

  • Problem Solving:

    Solving problems is part of the day-to-day work of an IT manager. For example, you’ll have to fix problems other team members are having with their technology or bugs caused by new updates. You should know how to break down a problem into smaller parts and address them efficiently.

  • Adaptability:

    Technology is changing quickly and you need to stay updated on those changes in order to survive as an IT manager. You should be capable of adapting quickly as new technologies are introduced, and be willing to train yourself and others on how to use and embrace these new technologies in the workplace.

How to Become an IT Manager: Step-by-Step

Listed below are the six main steps you’ll need to follow in order to become an IT manager.
  1. Choose a software engineering career path
  2. Learn IT and software engineering through a bootcamp, self-study or college
  3. Practice your technical skills
  4. Build your IT portfolio
  5. Write your IT resume
  6. Start the job search
The good news is that Career Karma can help guide you through every step of this process. We’ll provide you with free mentorship, coaching and access to a community of other aspiring IT managers who can support you through your journey.
We’ll also help you prepare for and get accepted to a top software engineering coding bootcamp so you can get the training you need to break into a career in IT management.

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