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What's it like being an IT director?
CareerBuilder | November 7, 2017
IT directors serve as a primary point of contact between the professionals in the IT department and those in operations, business, customer service, sales, and other areas.
Information technology (IT) directors are in demand across many industries. These tech-minded individuals are responsible for managing computer resources so that a company's IT systems are well-maintained and carefully protected. IT directors are at the top of the IT department, overseeing managers and staff members. They both coordinate and implement the systems and services that keep essential information and technology solutions available to the rest of the organization.
IT directors serve as a primary point of contact between the professionals in the IT department and those in operations, business, customer service, sales, and other areas. The specific responsibilities assigned to the IT director will vary by industry, and a solid knowledge of the particular sector a company is in important for IT directors to fill their roles.
What Can You Expect from an IT Director Job?
IT directors are responsible for resolving the issues that naturally arise from any type of business technology. Some of the common responsibilities that you may find in an IT director job description include:
- Organizing programs to increase efficiency
- Overseeing technical projects that are designed to improve upon or achieve business goals
- Directing networks to improve efficiency
- Collaborating with information engineers to solve management problems
- Supervising managers and employees in the IT department
- Creating financial budgets for senior executives
- Researching new products and keeping up with the latest technology innovations
- Recommending new systems and software to senior executives
- Organizing and implementing disaster recovery systems
- Collaborating with information engineers to solve business challenges
- Identifying market opportunities in IT
Are you asking what does an IT director do? IT directors can work in a range of industries and job sectors. In today's economy, nearly every company relies on some type of technology as part of their operations. Finance, insurance, information, management, and manufacturing are some of the most common industries for IT directors, but you can find top IT jobs in many other areas as well.
IT directors typically work a regular full-time schedule. While their most common hours may adhere loosely to a traditional nine to five schedule, it's not uncommon for these professionals to put in a lot of overtime. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that about 40 percent of computer and information systems managers worked more than 40 hours a week in 2014. This was also true of about half of top executives.
Schedules will often vary from week to week or seasonally for IT directors. They're more likely to put in overtime when business is going through a busy period which will put added strain on the company. For retail companies, this might be around the holiday, while businesses focused on tourism will see an added strain on their IT systems during summer vacation or spring break.
What Qualifications Are Required to Be an IT Director?
IT directors need to have a strong background in a technical field. They're normally required to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in a related area. Some applicable degrees may include:
- Information Technology
- Technology Management
- Business Management
There are many courses that you should include in your education to gain the knowledge necessary to become an IT director. You'll need a strong foundation in information technology to serve as the core of your education. Important IT courses will typically include:
- Computer interface
- Database management technology
- Business applications
- Information systems
- Operating systems
- Web design
- Systems analysis
- Project management
- Computer architecture
- Technical wiring
- Software development
- Global information management
In addition to an extensive knowledge of information technology, you may also need an MBA and solid business background to secure a position as an IT director. With an MBA, you'll gain additional insights into organizational management, leadership, and business practices.
Depending on the job you're applying for, you may need more education specific to a particular operating system or program, such as Office365, Amazon Web Services, or cloud computing.
IT directors typically have an extensive background in both information technology and leadership positions. The most common career path is for one to begin as a lower level IT employee. With a few years of experience, you may progress to a management position. Many companies will hire lower level IT managers with only a few years of experience. To secure a promotion to IT director, you typically need five to ten years of management experience in an IT field.
While a solid knowledge base is one of the most important things to establish when you want a career as an IT director, there are also several valuable skill sets you may need to possess. Just what is an IT director? This professional is someone with a well-rounded skill set in several key areas. Cultivate these skills as early as possible in your professional journey and you'll be well-placed and ideally equipped for a position as an IT director down the road.
- Analytical Skills – IT directors must understand how to assess a situation quickly and efficiently. Down times can spell disaster for any business, so directors in this area must have a quick plan for recovery.
- Business Skills – As a director, it's important that you understand how all aspects of the business are managed. This will help you best position your department to collaborate effectively with others in the company.
- Leadership Skills – IT directors are at the head of their department, and are responsible for both managers and other employees beneath them. They need to know how to motivate and direct efficiently.
- Organizational Skills – IT directors have a lot on their plate at any given time. It's important for them to understand how to prioritize and organize everything that they're dealing with.
- Communication Skills – Strong communication skills are important in any IT field. Not everyone that you work with will be proficient in information technology, so you need to know how to communicate both in technical terms with your peers, and using more common terminology for those in other departments.
- Technical Aptitude – Technical systems are changing all the time. While it's useful to have an in-depth knowledge of a particular program right now, this may become obsolete in a year's time. It's more important that you have a natural aptitude for adapting to and understanding new technology.
How much do IT directors make? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for computer and information system managers was $131,600 in May 2015. Those who worked in information industries had the highest salary, at $148,070. Those in computer systems design and related services had a salary of $139,600 while IT managers in finance and insurance earned $136,240. Overall, computer and information system managers made less than $80,160 in the bottom ten percent and more than $187,200 in the top ten percent.
Job Outlook for an IT Director
The job outlooks is favorable for professionals in most technical fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that computer and information systems managers can expect a projected growth of 15 percent over the 2014 to 2024 decade. Meanwhile, job growth for operations specialties managers is projected at just seven percent, which is the same as the total growth anticipated for all occupations over this period.
This growth is the result of many increasing needs in this area. Retail establishments need a growing force of trained IT professionals to help them keep customer information and financial activity safe and secure. The healthcare industry is expected to pursue extensive growth in information technology as new technical programs and products become available to consumers in this area.
An IT director position is the pinnacle for many career paths. This goal is typically achieved after spending many years working up the ladder of lower and upper management positions. There are only a few positions that are higher up the ladder. Depending on your ultimate goal for career-life balance, you may find that a job as an IT director is satisfactory to hold until retirement.
However, if you do want to progress beyond this role, your best option is a job as a CTO. A company's chief technology officer is responsible for overseeing all technical aspects of the business. This includes establishing the company's overall vision for its technical departments and its strategic direction for development and growth. You typically need a minimum of ten years' experience in upper management, such as IT director, to land a position as a CTO.
You may also find fulfilling career advancement from a move to another business. As an IT director for a small company, you may have only minimal challenges and a small team to work with. By advancing to a fortune 500 or Fortune 100 company, you could greatly increase your salary while also obtaining a more challenging and satisfying job.
IT directors carry out a vital role that will only increase in importance as companies become more reliant on the technical aspects of business management and customer service in nearly every industry.
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