How do I Become an IT Manager?

Carol Francois

Many people who work in the industry want to become an IT manager. There are several different types of manager roles, ranging from infrastructure to application development and on to support. Although the roles vary, they all require a combination of formal training and related work experience. An IT manager is responsible for a broad range of tools and systems, and must be able to work collaboratively with a large group of people. There are very few things in information technology (IT) that can be achieved in isolation. Working with others is the only way to complete most IT projects.

Working with others is the only way to complete some IT projects.
Working with others is the only way to complete some IT projects.

People who are technologically skilled, detail-oriented, and focused find this type of career rewarding. The primary role of the IT manager is to balance conflicting priorities, provide direction for the staff, and support the technological requirements of the organization. Communication and discretion are very important in this role.

Typically, the process to become an IT manager starts with post-secondary education. A university degree in computer science, programming, system development, or system analysis is often part of the position requirements, however it varies by industry. For example, some firms prefer candidates with a broader training in business, combined with post-graduate certificates or diplomas in information technology.

In order to advance his or her career to become an IT manager, many people complete additional education, such as a Master's of Business Management, management certificate programs, or a more specific course of study that focuses on a known area of weakness. For example, someone who has difficulty saying no to people will greatly benefit from a class in negotiation and time management.

Leadership experience can be obtained through short periods as a fill-in manager or project management. There are specific mistakes that almost all leaders make, and it is often valuable learn from these mistakes outside the work environment. Leading a large project for a volunteer agency or community organization is a great way to develop these skills in a low-risk environment. Volunteering as a mentor for a small business group can increase your profile and help you make valuable contacts.

Once you become an IT manager, a training program must be developed. Dedication to continuing education is critical, as the landscape changes constantly. Many people negotiate payment for these work-related courses into their employment contract, as the courses themselves can be quite expensive. Make sure to take the time and explore the different training opportunities available to you. Although IT management is a specific skill, may of the challenges of management are the same regardless of industry.

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