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What's it like being an IT director?
CareerBuilder | December 3, 2021
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.
In today’s tech-focused economy, information technology (IT) directors are in demand in just about every industry. 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 lead IT departments, 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 primary points 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 an IT director will vary by industry; these professionals need a solid knowledge of their company’s particular sector to succeed.
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. They handle a wide-ranging set of daily tasks. Some of their most common job duties are:
- 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
- Collaborating with different departments to solve IT issues
IT directors work in a variety of industries and job sectors. In today’s economy, nearly every company relies on some type of technology as part of its operations. Finance, insurance, information, management and manufacturing are some of the most common industries for IT directors, but you can find top IT management jobs in many other areas as well. Which sector you work in will ultimately depend on your personal interests, opportunities and career goals.
IT directors typically work a regular nine-to-five schedule, but as anyone who has worked in tech will tell you, stuff happens, and sometimes that means putting in some overtime. The job of a director working in IT is not always predictable; technological problems don’t conform to business hours, so these professionals have to be ready to address issues as they arise.
Schedules can vary from day to day, week to week and season to season. IT directors are more likely to put in overtime when a business is going through a busy period. For retail companies, that might be around the holidays, 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 related field, with plenty of technical expertise. They’re usually 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 you should include in your education to have a successful career as an IT director. Important IT courses include:
- Computer science
- 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 and a bachelor’s degree, you may also need a graduate degree, like an MBA, and a 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 — the "director" part of "IT director."
Depending on the job you’re applying for, you may also 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 begins with a low-level IT job. With a few years of work experience, you may progress to a management position, where you can gain experience leading IT teams. Many employers will hire lower level IT managers with only a few years of experience, which could position you to make the leap to a larger company in the future. To secure a promotion to IT director, you need five to 10 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. If you want to join senior leadership, you’ll need to cultivate these skills as early as possible in your professional journey.
- 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 the entire team to collaborate with other departments in the company.
- Leadership skills – IT directors are at the head of their departments. They need to be natural leaders who can motivate team members and help them build new skills. Pursuing lower level leadership roles early in your career will set you up as an ideal candidate for IT director jobs.
- Organizational skills – IT directors have a lot on their plates. It’s important for them to understand how to prioritize and organize everything that they’re dealing with. Time management, project oversight and general organizational skills are paramount.
- 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 translate your work to colleagues who do not "speak IT."
- Technical aptitude – Technical systems change 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. The right person for IT director jobs will have an innate fluency with technology. If you tried to take your video game systems apart as a kid, this could be the job for you.
The current national average salary for IT directors is about $101,000. This varies based on location and sector. Use our Salary Search tool to find detailed salary data for IT directors in your area.
Job Outlook for an IT Director
Good news: all computer and information systems manager positions are expected to grow faster than average over the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This growth is the result of increasing technology needs across industries. The retail industry needs a growing force of trained IT professionals to 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. Name just about any industry, and we can tell you why it will need more IT professionals in the years to come.
An IT director position is the pinnacle of many career paths. It takes years to climb the career ladder of lower and upper management positions. There are only a few higher ranking job titles in the field; you may want to retire as an IT director, depending on your ultimate career goals.
If you do want to progress beyond this role, your best option is to find a job as a company’s chief technology officer. CTOs are responsible for overseeing all technical aspects of a 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 10 years of experience in upper management, such as an IT director role, 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 larger organization, you could greatly increase your salary and land 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. You’ll need plenty of experience in the field to become a director. Start your search for IT jobs today.
More tips for prospective IT directors
If you need to gain more technical experience, consider a role in software development.
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