Systems Manager

What Do Systems Managers Do?

Computer and information systems managers generally oversee the information technology departments within a business or an organization. Much of a system manager’s duties depend on the size of the organization, and how much technology they use on a daily basis. In a smaller setting, a systems manager may offer support on an as-needed basis, while larger organizations may require larger IT departments with a more hands-on systems manager role.

Generally, systems managers possess at least a bachelor’s degree. Graduate education can increase earning potential and even open up paths to new and more advanced careers. Fortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects careers in computer and information systems management to grow at a faster-than-average rate in the coming years, making right now a great time to kickstart a career in this rapidly growing industry.

Key Skills

Systems managers possess excellent communication, analytical, and decision-making skills. They also develop a strong understanding of a variety of computer systems and software and how to troubleshoot these systems as needed. Most of these professionals gain these skills through formal training, often while earning their computer and information systems manager degree. Keep reading to learn more about some of the top specialized skills and competencies practiced by systems managers.

Key Skills for Systems Managers

  • Network Management: Systems managers often oversee information technology departments and help manage networks utilized by an organization. This includes wireless networks, cloud storage, and other systems of data storage and communication within the organization.
  • Project Management: Systems managers sometimes work as project managers, overseeing any IT-based projects. This might include implementing a new computer system, training employees on a new piece of software, or creating a new data storage or recordkeeping system.
  • IT Support: Depending on the size of the organization, much of a systems manager’s job may entail providing IT support to employees. This might include troubleshooting any issues that arise, training employees on any new systems or software, and generally providing oversight for IT utilized by the organization.
  • IT Management: Systems managers generally oversee the information technology department within an organization. Depending on the size of the IT department, this might entail managing daily IT operations, or it may involve working more broadly across the organization, providing necessary support where needed.
  • Microsoft Office: Microsoft creates and manufactures a great deal of the software commonly used by businesses and organizations, so systems managers generally have a strong working knowledge of this software.

How Much Do Systems Managers Make?

Earn Your Degree

Generally, professionals in IT working as systems managers possess at least a bachelor’s degree in systems management or a related field, such as computer science, software development, or network administration. Some systems managers pursue a graduate degree in the field, but most systems managers seek continuing education of some kind in order to keep up with changes and developments in technology. Fortunately, online systems management degrees and continuing education courses abound.

The benefits to earning an advanced degree in systems management include a higher earning potential, and job opportunities in more advanced positions. Earning a degree also provides the opportunity to learn and practice with new technologies in the field, and to earn valuable certifications in systems management that can bolster a resume.

Average Salary of Systems Managers by Job Level

Entry-Level (0-5 Years) $67,000
Mid-Career (5-10 Years) $83,000
Experienced (10-20 Years) $93,000
Late-Career (20+ Years) $109,000

Source: PayScale

How Do I Become a Systems Manager?

Earn Your Degree

Generally, professionals in IT working as systems managers possess at least a bachelor’s degree in systems management or a related field, such as computer science, software development, or network administration. Some systems managers pursue a graduate degree in the field, but most systems managers seek continuing education of some kind in order to keep up with changes and developments in technology. Fortunately, online systems management degrees and continuing education courses abound.

The benefits to earning an advanced degree in systems management include a higher earning potential, and job opportunities in more advanced positions. Earning a degree also provides the opportunity to learn and practice with new technologies in the field, and to earn valuable certifications in systems management that can bolster a resume.

Gain Experience

According to the BLS, most computer and information systems managers possess a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of work experience in the field. Sometimes, students can earn this experience during the course of a degree by participating in internships and practicums. Earning a degree in systems management provides a great way to earn both academic credentials and professional experience.

Generally, a computer and information systems manager degree doesn’t require an internship, but students can often get help with internship placement through their school. Students also gain valuable experience within their academic programs by learning and practicing with software and technology used by systems managers. In addition to a degree and a certain amount of field experience, systems managers may also need to earn specific credentials and certifications.

Earn Credentials

In addition to earning a bachelor’s or advanced degree, many systems managers also earn other certifications and specialized credentials. These certifications may include the certified associate in project management, CompTIA Project+, and the certified information systems security professional credentials. Some employers and careers may require systems managers to hold certain certifications for employment. Additionally, holding these certifications can boost earnings, as they prove extensive qualifications and education that make you a valuable asset to an organization’s IT department.

Students can often earn additional credentials right alongside a computer and information systems manager degree. Many online and in-person certification courses also exist to help working professionals earn additional qualifications while on the job.

Some employers and careers may require systems managers to hold certain certifications for employment.

Types of Careers in Systems Management

Fortunately for professionals in information technology, their skill set fits within a wide range of jobs and industries, making them especially hirable and versatile employees. The type of career students end up in likely depends largely on the specific type of degree and any concentrations earned.

Generally, professionals in systems management earn at least a bachelor’s degree. Some also go on to pursue graduate degrees in the field, qualifying them for advanced positions and potentially higher salaries. Additionally, employers may require some degree of work or field experience in systems management or a related area. Many professionals can earn a great deal of this experience during their academic program.

Computer Programmers

Computer programmers create and write the actual code that computers run on and test their codes to troubleshoot issues. They often work alongside software developers to create operating systems that allow various types of software to function properly.

Degree Level and Experience Required

Bachelor’s Degree

Median Annual Salary

$82,240

Software Developers

Software developers use computer coding to create software to work across all manner of devices and platforms. They create and design all kinds of applications and programs. They often work alongside other programmers and developers, either within a larger corporation or specifically within a software company.

Degree Level and Experience Required

Bachelor’s Degree

Median Annual Salary

$103,560

Database Administrators

Database administrators handle and oversee the data storage and digital recordkeeping within an organization. They secure and protect data and implement measures to prevent data loss. They may also move old data into new database systems, create new systems or modify old ones, and maintain databases to ensure they function properly.

Degree Level and Experience Required

Bachelor’s Degree

Median Annual Salary

$87,020

Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts create solutions to increase efficiency and effectiveness for businesses by examining their existing computer systems. Analysts choose the appropriate hardware and software for the functions of an organization.

Degree Level and Experience Required

Bachelor’s Degree

Median Annual Salary

$88,270

Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts analyze the security needs of an organization and implement security systems to protect the organization’s network and data. They use software like firewalls and data encryption and test systems for vulnerabilities. They may also work with employees to understand new security measures and software.

Degree Level and Experience Required

Bachelor’s Degree

Median Annual Salary

$95,510

Where Can I Work as a Systems Manager?

Professionals in computer and information systems management possess the advantage of skills applicable to a wide variety of industries and areas, not limited only to the world of information technology. Systems managers work within organizations and businesses of all kinds. Some systems managers even opt to work as freelance employees on a contract basis. A number of factors can affect a systems manager’s career, including employment levels in different geographical locations and median salaries for professionals in those areas.

Locations

Geographic location can impact a career as a systems manager. Some areas of the country offer higher employment levels for these professionals than other regions, and systems managers may also earn higher annual mean wages in certain parts of the country. As you consider where to work as a systems manager, keep in mind any licensure requirements from employers, varying salary potential based on location, and even the cost of living and quality of life. The tables below outline the metropolitan areas with the highest employment level and highest mean salaries for professionals in system management.

Metropolitan Areas With the Highest Employment Level of Computer and Information Systems Managers

Location Employment Annual Mean Wage
New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division 24,320 $199,130
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division 14,920 $172,880
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 11,950 $204,180
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 11,410 $142,910
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA NECTA Division 11,400 $158,370

Source: BLS

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Computer and Information Systems Managers

Location Employment Annual Mean Wage
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 11,950 $204,180
San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division 8,760 $201,100
New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division 24,320 $199,130
Newark, NJ-PA Metropolitan Division 5,030 $186,410
Taunton-Middleborough-Norton, MA NECTA Division 70 $180,780

Source: BLS

Settings

Systems managers benefit from the advantage of providing valuable skills to organizations and industries of all kinds, as so many businesses employ technology at some level. The industry computer and information systems managers work in can impact their overall career trajectory, influencing earning potential and maybe requiring more training or education.

Although the majority of systems managers work within computer systems design and related areas, others work in finance and insurance, managing companies and organizations, and even manufacturing. Keep reading to learn more about these industries and the median salaries of professionals in these areas.

The Five Largest Employers of Computer Systems Managers

Setting Percent Employed Median Annual Salary
Computer Systems Design and Related Services 22% $146,450
Information 11% $153,120
Finance and Insurance 11% $146,350
Management of Companies and Enterprises 10% $140,970
Manufacturing 8% $141,380

Source: BLS

Continuing Education for Systems Managers

Working in information technology means staying current with changes in the tech industry, including new software, devices, security systems, and data storage. To keep up with all these changes, professionals in IT and systems management generally pursue continuing education courses. Fortunately, systems managers can take many of these courses online, or even through their employer in instructor-led workshops. Some courses may require exams, but then award a special certification upon completion.

How Do I Find a Job in Systems Management?

As a new graduate with a computer and information systems manager degree, it’s easy to wonder where and how to begin looking for a job. Fortunately, students benefit from a variety of campus- and school-based resources, including career centers and academic advisers that can help you network or point you in the direction of job openings in your field.

Systems managers may also find internships during or after their program that allow them to gain valuable experience and potentially land a job. Job fairs and recruitment events take place both on college campuses and within communities and offer candidates a chance to meet local employers, learn about openings, and make valuable networking connections.

Additional Resources

Professional Organizations

  • Association for Information Systems The Association for Information Systems promotes the study and practice of information systems, offering education, scholarships, and services and products to members. AIS also holds annual conferences around the globe.
  • International Association for Computer Information Systems The International Association for Computer Information Systems provides a network and forum for professionals in the industry to discuss new research, as well as an annual conference.
  • Network Professional Association A global network for professionals in information technology, the Network Professional Association functions as a nonprofit organization that sets and maintains standards for professionals in IT and related fields.
  • National Association of Programmers The National Association of Programmers offers opportunities for publication in research journals, certification in IT specializations, and provides members opportunities to serve in leadership positions.

Professional Development

  • IBM Think This annual conference hosted by computer giant IBM offers workshops and professional development courses for professionals in IT and related areas, covering topics like automation, cloud storage, and data and analytics.
  • Gartner IT Symposium Offered annually in Toronto, Canada, this expo and symposium aims to prepare IT leaders and professionals for the rapidly changing world of technology, with workshops in digital platforms, security, and data analytics.
  • Microsoft Ignite Held by tech leader Microsoft, this conference offers attendees the opportunity to learn more about Microsoft’s new software technologies. Attendees benefit from more than 100 workshops and 700 breakout sessions.
  • Oracle Open World This conference, held annually in San Francisco, invites IT leaders and managers to learn more about cloud-based enterprise, autonomous databases, and the way technology affects the workforce.

Finding a Job

  • AIS Career Services A branch of the Association for Information Systems, this job board provides career services for people in IT, showcasing job openings in areas like education, information sciences, and tech.
  • Hire Tech Ladies Women looking for jobs as systems managers benefit from Hire Tech Ladies, an organization that connects female applicants with career opportunities in all areas of the technology industry.
  • Dice Those seeking jobs in the tech industry can use the tech-exclusive job search platform Dice, which hosts job listings from some of the foremost tech companies and organizations.
  • Tech Careers Tech Careers offers a searchable database of jobs in all areas of the tech industry, including jobs with major companies such as UPS, Centura Health, and Cox Automotive.

Continuing Education

  • CompTIA Training Professionals in systems management can utilize CompTIA’s various training seminars and courses to earn certification and/or renew their certification in a variety of areas.
  • Cisco Learning Cisco, a leader in tech and network systems manufacturing, offers a comprehensive database of learning resources and continuing education opportunities.
  • CompTIA Continuing Education The CompTIA Continuing Education program provides a method for IT professionals to keep their CompTIA certifications current.
  • Microsoft Learning Systems managers who utilize Microsoft software and products in their career benefit from the variety of online and in-person training courses available through the company, including online seminars and working with certified trainers.