Career profile: Chief Information Officer

A chief information officer (CIO) oversees the technology strategy for an organization. This can include assessing the company’s information technology goals and the best practices to implement the technology to meet the goals. The role of CIOs is based on the size and type of organization for which they work. Some CIOs in larger companies work with one particular kind of technology, computer system or function like data processing or information systems. CIOs in smaller organizations may oversee the entire IT department.

It should be noted that the job description of a CIO may change from organization to organization and from industry to industry. However, the main role of a CIO is to look at the whole company, assess its technology needs, recommend strategies and convert strategies into meaningful progress. Some CIOs focus more on technical and technological duties, while others have more business experience and use their knowledge and skills to drive business-related success.

CIOs can work with other executives and administrators at the top levels of an organization as well as oversee mid- or lower-level IT employees. The CIO works with the chief executive officer, for example, to create organizational goals and strategies that aim for productivity, efficiency and other metrics of success. In turn, the CIO also works with other IT professionals to implement plans that lead to success.

Career Growth

The career outlook for computer and information systems managers, including CIOs, is positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that there will be 15 percent growth in this occupational field by 2024. This is in part due to the continual transition to digital and cloud computing for both personal and organizational needs. The healthcare industry and insurance industry are creating the greatest demand for administrative positions like CIO to oversee IT implementation and sustainability.

The BLS also reports that the nature of the CIO’s role is changing. Because more organizations and businesses are transitioning from intra-office computer networks to cloud-based computing, the role of a CIO has shifted from working with tangible and physical platforms and technologies to more abstract and complicated networks and concepts. There has also been an increase in laws and regulations that affect the use of technology by businesses. Because technology evolves so quickly, CIOs must have business acumen to know when a new technology is worth the company’s investment. CIOs have more of an influence on business goals and strategy than before.

Salary Potential

The average salary for a computer and information systems manager is $131,600. The BLS does not have data on CIOs specifically; however, CIOs are considered one of the top executives in a company, which means that their earnings may be more than $187,200 (the top 10 percent of computer and information systems managers).

Education Required

In addition to years of IT experience, a prospective CIO needs a deep understanding of how technology’s efficiency and productivity affect the success of a business. Many companies require a master’s degree that prepares IT professionals to meet both the business and technology-related needs of an organization.