Earn an MIS Degree to Pursue Information Systems Career Opportunities

Businesses of all kinds have gone fully digital over the past few decades. It would be impossible to imagine today’s high-speed corporate world without advanced information technology, or the employees who manage these systems.

This ongoing shift toward digital networking has made certain career paths especially exciting, in terms of both salary potential and job security. Professionals hoping to become leaders in information technology have specific work goals to pursue. Building the competencies to succeed in those ideal roles will require a combination of work experience and higher education.

Management information systems is one of the fields that is perfectly aligned with today’s tech-first enterprise mindset. Related degree programs are designed to help students understand not just the modern technology landscape, but also the ways in which tech and leadership overlap.

Studying for a Master of Science in Information Systems is a prime way to gain knowledge about the ways in which companies incorporate digital processes into their everyday workflows and the best practices of leading the teams that use these tech solutions. This combination of hard technical knowledge and soft skills can point graduates toward some of the most in-demand career paths today.

A management information systems professional creates an analytics dashboard.

Comparing Career Opportunities for MS MIS Graduates

One of the most exciting aspects of earning an MS MIS is the variety of subjects covered in the coursework. Rather than pointing graduates toward a single career path, the combination of IT and leadership abilities can help professionals build resumes suitable for a number of different roles.

Following are three career paths that use the skills and concepts covered in the MS MIS curriculum. Each of these jobs occupies a unique purpose in today’s corporate world, and they are just a sample of the many directions in which an MS MIS graduate can look.

Computer and Information Systems Manager

As more companies build out impressive technology capabilities — in many cases not just using existing software but also maintaining software developers and web development teams internally — they need people to coordinate their digital systems. This is the role a computer and information systems manager can fulfill for an organization.

From day-to-day management of people and technology to long-term strategic planning, information systems managers are called on to provide value in a variety of ways. This mix of duties strongly aligns with the management information systems curriculum: Information systems managers use both technical knowledge and soft leadership skills regularly.

What They Do

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics explains that information systems managers are tasked with staying in the know about their employers’ IT deployments. If there are upgrades or replacements needed, these managers are the ones who bring the issue up with the C-suite. The information systems manager is also the person who signs off on the security of networks and privileged digital documents.

No department, not even technology, can run 100% automatically, so information systems managers must also be good at managing people. Whether filling a staffing gap or planning a long-term hiring strategy, managers have one foot in the world of human resources. These leaders must also work with technology providers, both when it’s time for an upgrade and on an ongoing, everyday basis.

The BLS categorizes IT managers and IT project managers as kinds of information systems managers. These closely related roles are all about leadership within the technology space, both in planning and implementation. While some companies will vary in how they advertise these roles or allocate responsibilities, the basics — people management, tech oversight, and more — apply to all three titles.

Salary and Job Prospects

According to PayScale data as of November 2021, the average salary for an information systems analyst is $85,100. However, professionals have the potential to earn considerably more than that amount, with the top 10% of information systems managers earning over $128,000 a year.

Information systems managers who excel in their roles could be picked for high-level promotions. PayScale notes that information systems managers often make the move to IT director. That role, in turn, can point to further opportunities as a vice president of IT or chief information officer.

Software Engineer

All the technology powering today’s companies needs to come from somewhere. Whether those systems are developed in-house or purchased, they require the backing of capable software engineers. The need for skilled software developers and engineers is especially acute today as cloud-based technology takes precedence. Companies are thinking less about hardware and defining themselves by their choice of software.

The process of developing and supporting software has evolved in recent years. Breakthroughs such as agile methodology and DevOps (combining development and operations into a single fast-paced department) have created new best practices for professionals. Employees who can thrive in these conditions can become valued and well-compensated members of development teams.

What They Do

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a software engineer is a specific role within the more general category of software developer. These engineers tend to take a big-picture view of creating software to suit project necessities. Considering their strategic position, these professionals need a strong understanding of the multiple aspects of software development, from the earliest design stages through quality assurance and testing.

As with many occupations under the information systems umbrella, software engineers work with people as much as with technology. This means they’ll put soft skills and interpersonal intelligence to work as they strive to get the most out of their teams. The BLS adds that developers, QA analysts, and testers report to software engineers, all working together to release and support software programs.

Salary and Job Prospects

Companies need software engineers to keep their development projects on track. This is especially pressing today, as businesses across industries launch their own development teams to create bespoke software for both internal and customer-facing purposes. Reflecting high demand, salary potential is strong — PayScale reports that as of November 2021, the base average salary for a software engineer is $88,126.

As with information systems managers, the most accomplished software engineers can earn far more than the industry average. The highest-earning 10% of these professionals make more than $130,000 each year. There is room for advancement within the specialized field of software engineering. After rising to a senior software engineer position, an experienced professional can seek to become a principal or lead software engineer, taking on greater authority within the company’s overall development efforts.

IT Director

Beyond the level of information systems manager, there needs to be someone with direct authority over all IT activity. This is the role of the IT director. Considering the importance of the IT department within today’s organizations, IT director is a position that comes with a high degree of responsibility.

IT isn’t just a collection of hardware and software tools, but a department: Companies’ success or failure in their ambitious IT projects can be determined by how well this team operates. The IT director is tasked with shaping the business’s technology policy and delegating tasks that will help the organization reach its objectives. The people management aspects of MIS studies are highly relevant to these duties.

What They Do

The BLS states that IT directors, including those specifically working as MIS directors, are supervisors of the IT team. When it’s time to hire new professionals and create the day-to-day workflows for the IT staff, the director is responsible. Their overall goal is to make sure the rest of the business has the software and hardware needed to do their jobs.

In addition to engaging in people management, IT directors have to act as the connection between upper management and the IT department. When given strategic priorities and policy directives from the C-suite, IT directors translate those goals into concrete steps. They allocate the budget for the IT department and create the practical conditions to achieve leaders’ objectives.

Salary and Job Prospects

IT director is a role with a high degree of responsibility, and one that candidates have to put in years of work to take on. Accordingly, it is well compensated. According to PayScale, the base average salary for IT directors is $121,919. Professionals who want to drive their earning potential higher can develop a wide variety of skills: From Oracle and SAP software to consulting management and merger expertise, IT directors’ knowledge should span many subjects.

Because an IT director already holds responsibility for the entire IT department, advancement from this position leads to some of the highest-ranking jobs in a given company. PayScale notes that some IT directors are promoted to the C-suite as CIOs, while others become VPs of IT. In such cases, these leaders go from one side of the corporate-IT divide to the other.

A management information systems professional works in an office.

Earning an MS MIS Degree as Part of a Rewarding Career Path

A master’s degree in information systems is an education path that goes beyond the basics. While getting started in many technology positions only calls for a bachelor’s degree in a related subject, the extra knowledge and experience imparted in a master’s program can help students go deeper into IT specialties while also developing their leadership acumen.

Today’s online MS MIS programs are aimed at working professionals and designed to allow them to keep full-time information systems jobs while also building their skills. Students who earn the 100% online MS MIS from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business get a world-class education on a schedule that makes sense to them, no matter where they’re based.

For professionals who decide to enter an online master’s degree program, there are several compelling reasons to select an MS MIS. From keeping up with technical advancement to understanding the connection between leadership and IT, the concepts discussed in this program can help graduates build a balanced resume. Add on the connections and networking that can occur, and it’s clear why IT professionals apply for MS MIS programs.

It’s possible to break the appeal of the online MS MIS into three general categories: technical know-how, soft skills, and out-of-class benefits.

Uncovering Multiple Facets of IT

IT touches every facet of companies’ operations today. Anything companies need to get done is carried out with help from computers, networks, and purpose-built software. Staying attuned to not just the latest developments but also near-future tech trends is a vital part of the modern IT leadership skill set.

In the UAB MS MIS program, all students receive thorough immersion in business intelligence, data analytics, and cyber security. There is also a class specifically dedicated to emerging technology, making sure that graduates will already be familiar with the next generation of IT trends.

Students who opt to specialize in cyber security or business analytics will get deeper into their respective disciplines, becoming well-versed in the latest applications and practices. Taking on an IT management and leadership role will depend on having this knowledge, as it would be difficult to create or implement a realistic strategy without an understanding of how the latest tech tools work.

Building Leadership Skills

If one side of management information systems consists of technical computer science knowledge, the other half consists of interpersonal skills. Just as a leader with no tech know-how would be unable to create useful day-to-day plans for an IT team, lack of soft skills could harm that professional’s ability to be heard and understood.

The MS MIS curriculum contains plenty of classes directly focused on leadership and the way it intersects with IT. IT Project Management is a course themed on bringing high-tech projects to a successful conclusion, and can prove pivotal for professionals who specialize in this aspect of management. Courses on strategy are designed to ensure graduates know how to apply their skills in a business context and don’t end up restricted by departmental silos.

The IT Management concentration is dedicated to becoming a leader within an IT context. Its related elective courses are based on concepts such as governance and capital budgeting. Being this type of leader means grasping ideas from two perspectives and managing the people who work with technology every day.

Forging Connections with Fellow Students and Faculty

Degree programs aren’t just exciting because of the knowledge imparted in classes. Students also benefit from meeting like-minded professionals, whether among the faculty or their fellow pupils. While 100% online degree programs don’t have the in-person interactions of on-campus studies, they still feature group work and networking. By encouraging meetings between tech-focused professionals, these programs can connect people to a larger world of IT experts.

One of the marks of a top school is the qualifications of the faculty. The dedicated faculty at the Collat School of Business combine academic rigor with real-world knowledge that comes from working with companies of all sizes and descriptions. Such practical knowledge helps professors teach their students about the ways IT leadership is really practiced today.

Students who graduate from a respected and accredited university become part of an alumni network, giving them a web of business connections to talk to as they progress through their careers. Students may get to know one another through group projects or seek one another out through networking events after graduation.

Applying to an Online MS MIS Program

What does it take to enter the Collat School of Business online MS MIS program? The application requirements state that applicants need to have an undergraduate degree in a related subject, but there is a way for applicants to make up the necessary experience: through the bridge program.

In this program, students take six courses ranging from Business Programming to Information Systems and Database Management. This balanced IT curriculum ensures MS MIS students are working with a comprehensive knowledge of technology today before they delve into the advanced connections between strategic leadership and IT processes.

Apart from the bachelor’s degree or bridge program requirement, applicants can come from all levels of experience in their professional careers. Up-and-coming IT experts who have recently joined the profession in entry-level jobs can enter the MS MIS program to deepen their understanding of leadership principles and aim for more prestigious titles in the future. Long-tenured professionals can also earn an MS MIS to shape the future direction of their careers.

Highly sought-after and well-paying roles, including positions in management information systems, naturally attract ambitious and highly qualified candidates. Professionals hoping to stand out as they apply for these roles should therefore build their resumes with well-chosen credentials and types of experience that will help them stand out. Earning an MS MIS could be one way to show hiring managers a candidate is committed to furthering their knowledge of cutting-edge IT, strategic leadership and the places those concepts overlap.

If this sounds like the right move for your career, visit the Collat School of Business online MS MIS page for more details on the program.

Recommended Readings:

What Is Information Systems?

What Is the Difference Between Data Science and Business Analytics?


PayScale — Average Information Systems (IS) Manager Salary

PayScale — Average Software Engineer Salary

PayScale — Average Information Technology (IT) Director Salary

Bureau of Labor Statistics — Computer and Information Systems Manager

Bureau of Labor Statistics — Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers