Career Spotlight: Chief Technology Officer

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Technology is constantly changing the world around us. It has a major impact on the average person’s day-to-day operations, but it can be even more effective in the workplace. Many businesses experience a need for a general overseer who can utilize business and technology skills along with knowledge to make decisions from a technical perspective. That’s where the chief technology officer comes in.

Businessman working at a desk

Top executive career paths are on the rise. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the job outlook for top executives is anticipated to grow by 6% between 2018 and 2028. Additionally, top executives earned an average salary of $104,980 in 2018, which can also make this high-tier career path more appealing. Speaking specifically to chief technology officers, PayScale reports that the median salary is $157,788, an annual wage that’s higher than average for most occupations.

Beyond salary and job outlook, let’s take a closer look at what defines a chief technology officer, including the skills and responsibilities expected out of this career option and steps to take in your educational journey to get there.

What is a chief technology officer?

By definition, a chief technology officer is the individual in charge of an organization’s technological processes. The job description involves handling the company’s digital needs and determining whether there’s a technical solution that can help it reach its business goals and objectives. The chief technology officer works under the organization’s chief executive officer, but this individual plays a critical role in the workplace and is a key figure who brings the company together, according to Matt Mead, CTO of Chicago-based digital consultancy company SPR.

“I think the CTO can be the glue between technology implementation and product strategy, and can sort of make things really come together and come to life in a way that you don’t see in a lot of organizations today,” Mead told Business News Daily.

CTO is a job title, but it can also be considered an umbrella term. According to a report by Access Alto, a cloud hosting provider, there are four broad responsibilities for the chief technology officer: infrastructure commander, technology visionary, customer champion, and big thinker.

What are the key duties of a chief technology officer?

While responsibilities can vary from one company to another, each chief technology officer is expected to assess and oversee tasks in relation to tech strategy and research and development. According to Search CIO, some of the core responsibilities include:

  • Assessing technological trends surfacing in the industry and determining whether they can impact the company’s bottom line in the near future
  • Identifying risk and opportunity within the company
  • Making management decisions in relation to company governance
  • Monitoring and managing the company’s content management systems as well as other software that controls business objectives
  • Meeting and educating staff on all technological standards and compliance regulations
  • Managing and encouraging the research and development of new IT and digital devices used in the workplace
  • Building relationships within the organization, as well as with partners and customers.
  • Leading all technological communications to stakeholders
  • Conducting reviews of technological devices and software regularly to ensure they remain applicable to the daily workflow

In general, the CTO should serve as the face of the company in terms of new technology and digital solution implementation, constantly thinking about using tech to make informed business decisions.

What are the skills needed to become a chief technology officer?

Tech professionals who want to become a chief technology officer must have the skills and knowledge to oversee product development while managing other technological tasks. Beyond understanding technology, cyber security, coding, and other immediate knowledge related to the digital world, an effective chief technology officer should master the following skills to be successful:

Leadership. The most important skill for any executive is an ability to lead. No matter how many people are working under the chief technology officer, this person must be able to properly guide employees and take authority over major projects.

Patience. Chief technology officers have their job title for a reason; they likely have more education, experience, and skill than those working under them. This means that others may not be as quick to learn and understand, so patience is necessary.

Communication. All CTOs must have excellent written and verbal communication skills to properly translate business and technical information to colleagues and partners. This is critical from both a speaking and listening point of view.

Time management. CTOs are executives and have demanding workloads. Without time management skills, it can be difficult to manage these tasks and ensure there’s a steady workflow.

Mentoring. Leaders should constantly find ways to mentor peers. This allows all parties involved to grow from a personal and professional perspective.

Mastering the above skills can help aspiring CTOs work toward an executive position in the industry.

How can you become a chief technology officer?

If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a CTO, you must build years of experience in technology or business. Additionally, pursuing a master’s degree can be a necessary step. The online Master of Science in Management Information Systems program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham can help you make the connection between business and technology, and provide the education needed to become a CTO.

The curriculum combines knowledge of business, strategy, security, and leadership so you have the modern technology and business savvy skills needed to take on a position as a CTO. One of the program concentrations is IT management, which focuses on leadership skills needed in the business and technology world — perfect for those who want to pursue an executive role. Some of the courses you’ll take include IT Governance and Management, Technology Planning and Capital Budgeting, and Leadership in IT.

Broaden your horizons with the University of Alabama at Birmingham

The online Master of Science in Management Information Systems program from the University of Alabama at Birmingham merges the worlds of technology and business so you can improve your communication and leadership skills to thrive in both industries. The MIS degree is designed to help you prepare for a career in IT governance, business intelligence, data security, or project management — all that can thrive under a chief technology officer.

One of the major benefits of the program is its flexibility. Many people shy away from the idea of going back to school because they don’t have the opportunity to take time away from work to achieve educational goals. The online MSMIS program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is perfect for those who can’t put their career on hold; it’s 100% online with part- and full-time options available. This allows you to grow your expertise without stepping back from your current position.

If you’re ready to prepare for a career as a chief technology officer, download a free brochure or speak to an enrollment advisor about the online Master of Science in Management Information Systems program today.

Recommended reading:

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What is PMP certification, and what are the benefits of earning it?


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