Working in the technology department can be a very demanding task as you cannot afford to be lacking in terms of learning something new. As it is, technological advancement happens at a fast pace, and if you want to keep up, you have to keep learning.
The same can be said about a chief information officer or CIO. CIOs are heads of the information technology departments of companies. Leaders of companies rely on them for guidance as to the direction a company must take in the technology department to keep up.
How do you become a Chief Information Officer?
Before discussing the career options of a chief information officer, it is worth considering how you can become one in the first place.
No one graduates from a university and immediately becomes a CIO. Everyone starts as an entry-level or mid-level employee in the information technology department and work hard from then on to keep getting promotions until you become the head of the department or the chief information officer.
Here are some of the requirements for you to become a CIO:
- A bachelor’s degree – To be able to get accepted at any company’s information technology department, you should have a bachelor’s degree in information technology or other related courses. Many universities and colleges offer a wide variety of information technology related programs. For example, the University of Southern California or USC offers such programs.
- Continued training and seminars – Once employed, companies often provide training and seminars for their employees to keep them updated with the technological advancements that may be helpful for their improvement. For example, topics like cybersecurity is important for any company.
These seminars and training are offered so that the employees can learn more and apply the knowledge they have gained to help their department perform better.
If you want to become a CIO eventually, it is vital that you take these training and seminars to improve and equip yourself in helping your department improve their performance as well.
Having more knowledge can also help you take leadership roles that can show your leadership potential.
- Experience – Years of experience in the information technology department is also an essential factor that companies consider to promote you to become the CIO. As they say, the experience is the best teacher and years-worth of experience can make you a better leader and teach you to make better decisions.
- A master’s degree and a Ph.D. – As mentioned, you have to keep learning to keep up, and that is important to get the CIO position. Some people, though, have never obtained a master’s degree but were still able to become a chief information officer.
However, a master’s degree in information technology-related programs or a master’s degree in management can give you an edge that can help you get the promotion you need to become the CIO.
Becoming a CIO also means that you have to manage the people in that department. Therefore, getting a master’s degree related to management will show that you are prepared and equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to take on this management position.
Career Choices for a Chief Information Officer
Now that you know what it takes to be a CIO, it’s time to discuss what your career choices are. As you probably already know, becoming a CIO is already a huge source of pride for most people. Some are already satisfied in their position after they have achieved this goal. However, becoming a chief information officer does not mean that that is all you can be.
Here are some of the career options for a chief information officer:
- Educators – The experience and knowledge that is acquired by CIOs can be put to good use in making more future CIOs by becoming educators. Although it is not that common for CIOs to become full-time educators, a lot of them have gone on to become speakers in school programs to encourage students and share their insights on the field of information technology.
- Consultants – Again, the experience and knowledge they have gained throughout the years of working in the information technology have made their insights very valuable for any company. That is why companies often seek their advice, and they often become paid consultants for these companies.
- CEO of their own firm – Since a lot of people working in the field of information technology sees becoming a CIO as the peak of their career, the next step for them to take would naturally become the CEO of their own company.
A lot of CIOs working for huge companies end up opening their firm where they offer consultancy work as well as provide technical support in the field of information technology for smaller companies.
The road to becoming a chief executive officer is not an easy one, and it often takes ten years, or even longer, to get to that position. However, the salary, benefits, and most of all, the experience and knowledge you gain in the process are well worth the hardships you go through.