Career path: How to become an IT director

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For people with an inclination toward technology, computers, and data, pursuing a career in information technology may seem like a natural fit. Jobs related to the management of information and technology are important in many industries, especially as today’s connected, digital world presents new challenges and obstacles for organizations to overcome.

Rising in the ranks of the IT field can present lucrative and rewarding career paths. Some professionals who excel in IT may set their sights on a career as an IT director. Attaining this position may take several years of experience, hard work, and the right education. Earning a Master of Science in Management Information Systems online through the University of Alabama at Birmingham can give prospective IT professionals the base they need to begin a successful career in information technology.

A coder working on their laptop.

Benefits of becoming an IT director

Every company, no matter how big or small, needs to be able to manage its computer systems and keep the information on its networks secure. As such, information technology experts can expect continuing demand.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the computer and information management profession, which includes IT managers and directors, has a 10-year job growth outlook of 12 percent for 2016-2026. The outlook for all occupations is only 7 percent.

Considering the need for IT experts, it may come as no surprise that the median salary is higher than many other professions. According to the BLS, in 2016, computer and information management professionals earned a median salary of $135,800.

Analyzing data submitted by 13,829 individuals in an IT director role, PayScale found that the typical IT director salary range runs from $62,269 to $184,948, with a median salary of $113,841. The career information website also found that among 2,158 individuals who ranked their IT director job satisfaction rates, the typical respondent gave the position 5 out of 5.

IT director job description

Information technology directors oversee a company’s IT activities and help identify technology goals. They create plans to work toward those goals, including developing strategies for integrating various pieces of technology and software, as well as evaluating and updating them as necessary. They are also often expected to research and test hardware devices and applications before suggesting them to other managers and stakeholders in their companies.

IT director responsibilities also include maintaining good communications and developing relationships with vendors to negotiate contracts and seek cost-effective resources for their organizations. Communication, leadership, and teamwork skills are necessary for these types of duties.

Requirements to become an IT director

Successful IT directors should have excellent problem-solving and analytical skills in addition to a keen attention to detail. They should also be effective leaders and communicators.

Companies like to see IT director candidates who have experience in technology-related roles and have taken courses related to their main job functions.

In addition to these attributes and experiences, most IT director roles require a bachelor’s degree, though many companies may require a graduate degree. As such, earning an MS MIS degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business may be a good first step on the path to becoming an IT director.

University of Alabama at Birmingham can help students start their IT careers

The coursework in the online Master of Science in Management Information Systems degree offered through the Collat School of Business builds on the concepts that professionals may need in their IT careers. A few examples of the program’s valuable courses include:

IS 611: Information Technology & Business Strategy
An IT director’s main objective is to ensure the company’s technology activities and functions are beneficial to the organization. In this course, students can gain an understanding of how IT and business strategy work together for a company’s benefit. It will cover concepts like developing strategies and how to identify a competitive advantage in an organization.

IS 607: Introduction to Cyber Security
In today’s world, keeping information secure is highly critical. Issues related to data breaches and improper information management have led to challenging obstacles for many companies. This course will teach students the principles of cyber security, including its value from a business standpoint and the types of ethical and legal considerations an IT director might have to make when collaborating on a cyber security strategy.

IS 618: IT Project Management
Every IT director will have to manage certain projects and the people and teams involved with them. This course offers students the information they need to plan and successfully execute IT projects in an organization. It will also prepare students to take the Project Management Professional certification (PMI) exam.

Pursue an IT career with the Master of Science in Management Information Systems degree program

Aspiring IT directors must identify which resources available to them will help them in their career paths. Pursuing a Master of Science in Management Information Systems degree is one step that could lead to greater career opportunities down the road. To learn more about this program offered through UAB’s Collat School of Business, reach out to an enrollment advisor today.

Recommended Readings:
4 reasons why business skills can help you as an information systems professional
Top 5 non-technical skills every IT pro needs

Sources:
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Payscale
UAB MS MIS Course Descriptions
UAB MS MIS