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A computer systems manager plays a critical role in helping an organization determine its information technology (IT) goals and then designing, planning, coordinating and implementing the technology to meet those goals. Other titles for these professionals include computer systems and information managers, information technology (IT) managers or IT project managers. Whatever their title, they are responsible for the development, maintenance and security of the company's computer networks, software and hardware, internet and intranet. As managers, they supervise IT staff and usually report to top management.

Day in the Life of a Computer Systems Manager

Computer systems managers jobs vary depending on the organization they work for. The size and structure of the company determines a computer systems manager's specific responsibilities. In a small company, one individual might manage all of the organization's computer system needs, but on a small scale. A large company, on the other hand, is likely to have several computer systems managers, each devoted to managing specific systems and groups of IT personnel.

With those variables in mind, here are some of the tasks a computer systems manager might perform on a typical day:

  • Analyze and determine the company's computer needs based on the organization's goals.
  • Identify ways to upgrade the organization's computer systems with new or reconfigured technology.
  • Calculate the costs and benefits of any new purchases or systems upgrades. Propose possible purchases and upgrades to top executives for consideration.
  • Plan and supervise the purchase, installation, maintenance and upgrade of software and hardware, as well as the development of computer programming, networks and systems design.
  • Evaluate and approve project plans, systems charts and programs before implementation.
  • Negotiate with vendors to ensure an appropriate level of service for the organization's technology.
  • Develop budgets and business plans.
  • Ensure the security of the company's network, data, and electronic documents.
  • Determine short- and long-term staffing needs for their department.
  • Plan, direct and supervise the work of other IT professionals, including computer systems analysts, software developers, information security analysts, and computer support specialists.
  • Review the performance of personnel.

Important Characteristics for Computer Systems Managers

Successful computer systems managers tend to share some key characteristics. Of course, they should have an advanced and extensive working knowledge of programming and system analysis. They also need to be analytical, detail-oriented, and have good organizational skills. It's important that they possess strong leadership and communication skills, which can help them lead IT teams and present and discuss technical subject matter to non-technical management and staff. Computer systems managers must display sound business judgement and have good decision-making skills.

Typical Steps for Becoming a Computer Systems Manager

You can prepare for computer systems managers jobs by possessing a combination of technical computer knowledge and a foundation in business and management. They gain this through a combination of education and work experience. The typical steps to this career are as follows:

  1. Earn a bachelor's degree in computer science or management information science.These degree programs include courses in computer programming, software development, and mathematics. Management information systems (MIS) programs typically include both business and computer-related courses.
    • While some small companies may promote employees who don't have degrees but have gained programming knowledge on the job, having a bachelor's degree in hand can be a way to demonstrate your depth of knowledge and it may improve your candidacy for a promotion.
  2. Know what a prospective employer expects of candidates. Before you interview with an organization, find out what they look for in candidates. Some employers prefer to hire candidates experienced with a particular software or technology the company uses. Many companies look for candidates experienced in business management or consulting as well as computer science.
  3. Take advantage of training programs offered by your employer. Find out what professional development training, if any, your company offers to its computer personnel.
  4. Consider earning a master's degree. Some employers, especially large companies, prefer to hire candidates who have an MBA with a focus on technology. Have an advanced degree may have a positive impact on computer systems managers salary.
  5. Earn a professional certificate. While this isn't required for most computer systems managers jobs, it may give you a competitive edge. Most certifications are product-specific and are administered by hardware or software firms.
  6. Stay abreast of the latest developments in computer systems. In this rapidly evolving field, it's critical to keep your knowledge up-to-date.

Resources

Sources:

  • Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm
  • Summary Report for Computer and Information Systems Managers, O*NET OnLine, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/11-3021.00

Computer Systems Managers Education Overview and Career Guide Skills

Below are the skills needed to be computer systems managers education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Critical Thinking4.124
Reading Comprehension44
Active Listening44
Speaking3.883.88
Judgment and Decision Making3.883.75

Computer Systems Managers Education Overview and Career Guide Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be computer systems managers education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Oral Comprehension44.5
Oral Expression44.38
Written Comprehension44.38
Problem Sensitivity44
Deductive Reasoning44

Computer Systems Managers Education Overview and Career Guide Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be computer systems managers education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Computers and Electronics4.776.13
Customer and Personal Service4.054.72
Administration and Management3.74.31
Engineering and Technology3.53.99
English Language3.483.63

Computer Systems Managers Education Overview and Career Guide Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being computer systems managers education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Interacting With Computers4.96.1
Making Decisions and Solving Problems4.515.16
Getting Information4.435.09
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates4.365.25
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events4.315.14

Computer Systems Managers Education Overview and Career Guide Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being computer systems managers education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work StyleImportance
Integrity4.67
Attention to Detail4.67
Dependability4.54
Initiative4.36
Cooperation4.33

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Computer Systems Managers Education Overview and Career Guide

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Computer Systems Managers Education Overview and Career Guide jobs , as of 2017

   
Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim15,460 $160,620
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward13,280 $190,520
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara11,950 $204,180
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell11,410 $142,910
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue10,690 $160,860
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington7,630 $164,500
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale5,890 $138,280
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land5,520 $163,130
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson4,890 $147,330
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood4,820 $165,620

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to computer systems managers

Source : 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 22.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

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