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What Is a Chief Information Officer? How to Become One, Salary, Skills.

The chief information officer, or CIO, is an executive-level position that oversees the implementation, management and efficiency of computer systems and technology within an organization. Here’s what to know about a CIO’s needed skills, salary and how to become one.


What Is a Chief Information Officer?

Chief information officers lead and guide IT departments and manage the leaders whose job it is to tend to the daily data needs of an organization. 


What Do Chief Information Officers Do?

Chief information officers develop and oversee an organization’s IT implementation strategy and maintenance. They often work with other key leaders, such as IT directors, to set technology, data and security goals. 

Chief Information Officer Responsibilities

  • Develop and implement IT, security and data systems for company-wide use. 
  • Address security concerns. 
  • Create and manage the IT and security departments. 
  • Provide guidance to the IT and security teams on executing goals, conduct performance reviews and hire new team members. 
  • Create and maintain the budget for IT and security. 

Day-to-Day Responsibilities of Chief Information Officer

  • Coordinate the tasks and responsibilities of the IT and security teams and check in with managers as necessary. 
  • Keep other senior leadership up to date on the progress of security and IT initiatives.

Chief Information Officer Within a Company

Chief information officers are typically the head of the IT and security departments. They usually report directly to the CEO or COO but have several direct reports working on their team.  

Importance of Chief Information Officer

Companies rely on chief information officers to establish and maintain the technology the company needs to operate at its highest level. Successful CIOs ensure that a company and its employees have reliable and secure technology to work with. 


What Skills Are Needed to Be a Chief Information Officer?

Qualifications to Be a Chief Information Officer

  • Thorough knowledge of IT and security laws and regulations. 
  • Deep understanding of IT governance. 
  • Familiarity with the software, tools and programs used by direct reports. 
  • Familiarity with current and trending technologies and ability to recognize company need for new technologies. 
  • Ability to communicate complex technical information to wider audiences.

Chief Information Officer Prerequisites

  • Chief information officers hold a bachelor’s degree in IT, computer science or a related field. 
  • Although a master’s degree may not be required, CIOs could benefit from deepening their knowledge of business management or IT management. 
  • CIOs often have at least 10 years of experience working in the IT or security fields with three to five years of experience in a management position. 

Chief Information Officer Hard Skills

  • Business acumen. 
  • Project management. 
  • Analytic skills. 
  • Database management skills.
  • Leadership and people management skills. 

Chief Information Officer Soft Skills

  • Communication and presentation skills. 
  • Negotiation skills. 
  • Creative problem solving. 
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How to Become a Chief Information Officer

Chief Information Officer Education and Experience

Chief information officers have at least a bachelor’s degree in IT, computer science, database administration or a related field. Having a master’s degree in a similar field can add more job opportunities for CIOs and deepen their knowledge of business management. Chief information officers often have 10 or more years of experience working in IT or security and several years in leadership roles. 

Chief Information Officer Certificates and Courses

Chief Information Officer Career Path

Chief information officers have lengthy careers in IT and security before holding the CIO title, which is the highest one can have in the IT industry. Some commonly held positions before CIO include IT director, IT project manager or vice president of IT. 


Chief Information Officer Salary and Job Outlook

Chief information officers can expect healthy growth over the next several years. Information system managers, a related position, are projected to have 16 percent growth by 2031.

The full compensation package for a chief information officer depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to the candidate’s experience and geographic location. See below for detailed information on the average chief information officer’s salary.


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