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How to Become an IT Manager

Information technology involves storing, processing, and manipulating data. It is the development and implementation of computer-based information systems, including software and hardware.
Information technology helps solve business or organizational problems at any scale. An information technology department helps with the installation, implementation, and repair of computer systems. In addition, other daily tasks include tech support, network maintenance, and security testing.
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 salaries as well as how you can break into this exciting field.

What Is IT Management?

Information technology managers have two main responsibilities within an organization: to manage its technology and manage other technical staff.
IT managers will oversee all 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 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 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 workplace
  • Preserve information security and control data permissions

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

What Does an IT Manager Do?

IT managers oversee and maintain information technology within an organization. They work with other employees to understand their technological needs, using 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 the maintenance of the company’s hardware and software, including upgrades. 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 oversee both technology and people. They’ll answer to either the Director of IT, the Chief Technology Officer, or the CEO.

Learning How to Become an IT Manager

Some IT managers attend a college, where they explore computing and low-level programming throughout a four-year computer science degree. Others are self-taught and learn systems administration and programming themselves. Yet others opt to attend a coding bootcamp. As you can see, there are many paths you can take to become an IT manager. The most common routes fall into one of the following categories:
  • Attend a software engineering coding bootcamp
  • Pursue a degree in computer science at a college or university
  • 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 worth over the past few years as an exciting alternative to a college education. During a bootcamp, you’ll learn the practical skills necessary to succeed in a career in IT management.

During the bootcamp, you’ll work with mentors and instructors to build a portfolio of projects that you can use to showcase your skills 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.

Top Skills Needed for IT Manager Careers

There are a few skills you’ll need to develop and refine to become an IT manager. Let’s break them down, starting with the technical skills.

Essential Technical Skills for IT Managers

There are several technical skills you’ll need to know in order to become an IT manager:

  • Coding
  • Networking
  • Database administration
  • Computer hardware and software knowledge
  • Web and cloud services

Coding

One of the most basic and important skills an IT professional needs is computer programming. A software or a web development job requires the use of code, so coding skills are a must for any candidate.

Some programming languages you may want to consider learning to become a successful IT manager include:

  • HTML
  • C++
  • JavaScript
  • Java
  • Python
  • Shell Script
  • PHP
  • Ruby

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.

Database Administration

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

Computer Hardware and Software Knowledge

Computer hardware refers to the physical components of a computer system, such as a keyboard, monitor, mouse, or router. The software provides instructions to the hardware to perform a task. Programs or apps are loaded into the computer, which operates by executing the software.

Both hardware and software are interconnected. One won’t work without the other. Having knowledge of the software and hardware of a computer is essential for an IT worker.

Web and Cloud Services

Knowing how to interact with web services is a crucial part of being an IT manager. You should know how web services and application programming interfaces (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.

What Is an API?

APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, allow interactions between two applications, so they can communicate with each other. For instance, when you check the weather on your phone or use messaging apps, you are using an API.

APIs are tools that allow programmers to write applications rapidly. Many operating systems and applications have different kinds of APIs. For example, Windows has many API sets that the system hardware or applications use.

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
  • Troubleshooting
  • Adaptability
  • Project management
  • Innovation

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.

Troubleshooting

Problem-solving 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 up-to-date to survive as an IT manager. You should be capable of adapting quickly as new technologies are introduced. You should also be willing to train yourself and others on how to use and embrace these new technologies in the workplace.

Project Management

A part of your job as an IT professional will be to manage multiple tasks and responsibilities. You will be responsible for tight deadlines and deliverables. Self-direction and self-motivation are key traits needed to succeed in this position.

Good project management skills are a secret career superpower. They involve the ability to set goals and reach them in a timely and efficient manner. Successful project management requires being goal-oriented, meeting deadlines, multitasking, and problem-solving.

Innovation

The curiosity to learn new things, and practice the skills at hand, will help you achieve results. A great IT professional understands the innate workings of computer systems and strives to get better while making suggestions to increase efficiency at work.

Innovation is the key to the biggest breakthroughs in life. Successful people spend time creating innovative solutions and are also risk-takers.

The skills listed above are only a few of the ones you can learn on your IT path. Additional soft and technical skills you can learn to increase your chances of entering an IT field include:

  • Operating systems
  • Analytics
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Cloud computing
  • Virtualization
  • Software development
  • Positive attitude
  • Team work
  • Creativity

Companies that Hire Bootcamp Grads

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How Long Does It Take to Learn Information Technology?

A traditional full-time bachelor's degree in computer science or information science will take four years. Most employers also like to see a minimum of three years of experience. Bootcamps typically last less than a year. They allow you to learn all the skills you need to break into a new career in technology in just a few months. This means that you can make the transition into your job in technology quicker than you would if you took the college route.

How Much Does an IT Manager Make?

IT Manager Job Outlook

The outlook for IT management positions is strong. Experts predict businesses will continue expanding their digital operations, which means they will have more technology in need of management.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, jobs in computer and information systems management are expected to grow by 10 percent from 2019 to 2029. The bureau describes this growth as "much faster than average.” Due to high demand, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 509,200 new IT jobs in the fields of cloud computing, big data, and information security.

Here is a list of three other IT careers that are both intellectually stimulating and lucrative:

  • IT security specialist
  • Video game designer
  • Mobile application designer

IT Manager Salary

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 you work for and your location. IT managers at companies with large technology needs can expect to command higher salaries than those who work at startups, 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 bring in about $109,500 in Atlanta, GA. It’s clear that location makes a huge difference when it comes to salaries in IT management.

Your income will also depend on your level of experience. IT directors oversee all technology within a business and typically have more experience. They can expect to earn an average of $142,800. These figures do not include employee perks, stock options, or other benefits, which you should take into account when evaluating a job offer.

How to Learn IT Management: 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 resume
  6. Start the job search
The good news is that Career Karma can 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 into a top coding bootcamp so you can break into a career in IT management.

The Best Information Technology Courses and Trainings

Luckily for anyone interested in IT, there is a wealth of online courses in information technology management.

Taking courses to earn a professional certificate can seem much more practical than dropping thousands of dollars on an academic degree. IT courses are especially handy if you aren’t sure you want to major in technology.

Below are some of the best online IT courses and useful certificate programs:

Online IT Management Courses

Diploma in Computer Networking

This IT course, which lasts from six to 10 hours, focuses on network connectivity. It covers topics like networks, hubs, switches, and WANS. At the end of the course, you will receive a certification. This is a fantastic way to build up your resume without attending a four-year university.

Cybersecurity: Managing Risk in the Information Age

Harvard’s cybersecurity IT course teaches students of all ages and walks of life about the importance of cybersecurity and technology systems management. This course is perfect if you want to know more about practical IT strategies. The class covers cyberattacks, threats, and mitigation strategies.

Eric Rosenbach, of the Harvard Kennedy School of Public Policy, will guide you through this fascinating program. At the end of the course, you will earn a certificate directly from Harvard University’s Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning.

Introduction to Cloud Computing Training

Cloud computing is quickly becoming one of the most prevalent ways to store and access data. That’s why it’s a great idea to get on board now and learn everything there is to know about this new field.

In this course, students will gain a foundational knowledge of cloud computing. The course covers the basics of how it works and what it means for businesses and individuals. You don’t need an impressive background in computers to apply, as this is only an introductory course. People with little to no technical background are encouraged to sign up.

The program delves into security measures, the different types of cloud computing, and web applications. You will gain useful experience that will benefit you as you apply for jobs and certificate programs.

Information Technology Certifications

Certificates are a great way to show employers that you’re an expert in a specific area. You can earn certifications from many sources, some more reputable than others.

Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect

Now that you know a little more about the importance of cloud computing, why not become certified as a Google Cloud Architect? This is one of the most sought-after certifications in cloud computing and could bring a lot of opportunities to budding tech experts.

Should You Study Information Technology?

Information technology has progressed immensely over the last decade and has become one of the fastest-growing occupations around the world. Almost every business today requires professionals with IT skills.
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. If you have the skills, you should pursue this lucrative career.

Learn about other top in-demand careers in technologies

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