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Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

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

Chief technology officers (CTOs) are in charge of a company’s technology strategy. They evaluate an organization’s tech resources and emerging technologies, deciding how to improve products or services for customers and spur business growth. Here’s what to know about a CTO’s needed skills, salary and how to become one.


What Is a Chief Technology Officer?

Chief technology officers are executive leaders who design and oversee technology strategies, procedures and practices. They ensure an organization has the technological resources to deliver top-performing products and services and meet business goals.


What Do Chief Technology Officers Do?

Chief technology officers develop and enact technology strategies. Besides assessing current tech resources, they also research the latest industry trends to find technologies that could benefit a business’ products, services and production methods.

Chief Technology Officer Responsibilities

  • Design and implement technology strategies, practices and processes. 
  • Collaborate with the chief executive officer, chief information officer and executive leaders. 
  • Improve products, services and production processes with upgraded technology. 
  • Research emerging technologies and industry trends. 
  • Assist in recruiting, onboarding and training technology team members.
  • Ensure tech-based decisions enable teams to meet business goals. 
  • Manage a budget for technological resources.

Chief Technology Officers Within a Company

Chief technology officers oversee technology or engineering departments and often report to the CEO. As high-ranking tech executives, they collaborate with executive leaders in various departments to ensure teams across the company are following technology strategies and standards.

Importance of Chief Technology Officers

Chief technology officers understand technological innovation and business growth are intertwined in the digital age. As a result, companies rely on these executives to boost performance and profits by tailoring technological advancements to fit the unique needs of organizations.

How to become a chief technology officer. | Video: 365 Data Science


What Skills Are Needed to Be a Chief Technology Officer?

Qualifications to Be a Chief Technology Officer

  • At least 10 years of experience working in the IT sector. 
  • Knowledge of a broad range of technologies. 
  • Experience managing technology teams. 
  • Prior success raising product performance and sales through technology. 
  • Ability to develop, articulate and execute strategies.

Chief Technology Officer Prerequisites

  • Bachelor’s degree in engineering, computer science or a related field.
  • Master’s in computer science, information technology or a related field. 
  • PhD may be required, depending on the position. 
  • 10 to 15 years of experience in IT-related positions, with at least five years of management experience. 
  • Software certifications and other relevant technology certifications.

 Chief Technology Officer Hard Skills

  • Understanding of company’s products, resources and tech infrastructure.
  • Knowledge of a variety of technologies gained through working in different IT-related positions. 
  • Background in research and data analytics. 
  • Experience designing and enforcing team- or company-wide strategies. 
  • Mastery of methods for managing technology teams.  
  • Business and financial acumen.

Chief Technology Officer Soft Skills

  • Ability to articulate broad or abstract concepts to teams. 
  • Collaborative mentality and openness to input from different groups. 
  • Extensive leadership and motivational skills. 
  • Quick decision-making and problem-solving skills
  • Comfortable working within an ever-changing environment. 
  • Interdisciplinary thinking for connecting tech and business needs.

Tools and Programs Chief Technology Officers Use

  • Cloud cost management tools like CloudZero, Azure and Densify.
  • Dashboard and reporting platforms like datapine, Sisense and Tableau.
  • Agile project management software like monday.com, Wrike and ClickUp. 
  • Communication platforms like Slack, Discord and Microsoft Teams. 
  • Cloud security tools like Cisco’s Systems Cloudlock and BitGlass. 
  • Product design platforms like Hotjar, Mural and Miro.
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How to Become a Chief Technology Officer

Chief Technology Officer Education and Experience

Chief technology officers usually hold a bachelor’s degree in engineering, computer science, information systems or a related field. Many candidates also possess a master’s degree in computer science or a related discipline, and some go on to complete a PhD. Upon graduation, professionals may work between 10 to 15 years in IT-related roles, with five years spent in a manager position. Relevant entry-level positions include technical support specialist, software developer and QA analyst. Top performers can work their way up and gain leadership experience through roles like engineering manager and information security manager. 

Chief Technology Officer Certificates and Courses

Chief Technology Officer Career Path

After completing their education, many aspiring chief technology officers begin their careers as IT specialists, software developers and other entry-level IT professionals. Those who excel in these positions can earn promotions to managerial roles and establish themselves as attractive candidates for CTO positions. A CTO is the highest tech executive at a company, so ambitious professionals may set their sights on becoming CEO or transition to a different leadership role.


Chief Technology Officer Salary and Job Outlook

The market for computer and information systems managers is expected to grow with the rise of the digital age. The number of openings in this niche will increase by 16 percent between 2021 and 2031, hinting at an exciting future for chief technology officers. 

The full compensation package for a chief technology 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 technology officer salary.