If you love networking and are attracted to a fast-paced, problem-solving IT role, you'll be a successful information systems manager

As an information systems manager you'll be responsible for the computer systems within a company. You'll need experience in the sector, in areas such as technical support or operations, before becoming a manager.

You could work in any organisation in the industry and service sector and will be in charge of a staff of technicians, programmers and database administrators.

You may also be known as a functional manager, service delivery manager or systems manager.

Responsibilities

As an information systems manager, you'll need to:

  • research and install new systems
  • implement technology, directing the work of systems and business analysts, developers, support specialists and other computer-related workers
  • evaluate user needs and system functionality, ensuring that IT facilities meet these needs
  • plan, develop and implement the IT budget and obtain competitive prices from suppliers to ensure cost effectiveness
  • organise the purchase of hardware and software
  • schedule upgrades and security backups of hardware and software systems
  • guarantee the smooth running of all IT systems, including anti-virus software, print services and email provision
  • ensure that users adhere to software licensing laws
  • provide secure access to the network for remote users
  • secure data from internal and external attack
  • offer users appropriate support and advice
  • manage crisis situations, which may involve complex technical hardware or software problems
  • mentor and train new IT support staff
  • keep up to date with the latest technologies
  • contribute to organisational policy regarding quality standards and strategic planning.

Salary

  • Typical salaries range from £40,000 to £65,000, as some prior knowledge and experience is required for this role.

Salaries are dependent upon location and the type of organisation. It's also possible to work on a freelance consultancy basis charging on a daily or project rate basis.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

You should expect to work unsocial hours to undertake planned security maintenance and upgrade work. Much of the work is project based, which may require extended hours at critical times.

You could also be called out at any time to resolve crises.

What to expect

  • Self-employment or freelance work is possible in areas where the IT sector employs contractors.
  • Project management work is available on short-term contracts if you have extensive experience in the role.
  • Since this is a management job requiring up-to-date technical skills in a rapidly changing field, career break opportunities are unlikely.
  • More men than women work in the industry. However, opportunities for women to enter the sector have never been greater. Various groups support women in IT and technology, such as BCSWomen, TechFuture Careers, and techUK, which has formed the Women in Tech Council to increase the representation of women in IT.
  • Travel within a working day, absence from home overnight and overseas travel are occasionally required. There are opportunities to work overseas, particularly within international companies located in several countries.

Qualifications

Although this area of work is open to all graduates with relevant industry experience, a degree in information technology or related fields may increase your chances.

The following subjects may also help:

  • business management with computer science
  • computer science
  • information science
  • software engineering.

See Tech Partnership Degrees for details about full-time degrees or degree apprenticeships.

Information systems work is open to diplomates, but a HND in the following subjects may improve your chances:

  • business (information technology)
  • computing
  • computing (IT systems support).

You don't need a degree or HND if you have substantial relevant experience and IT skills.

If your undergraduate degree isn't in information technology or a related subject, you might choose to take a postgraduate course in computer science. For further information, search postgraduate courses in computer science.

Skills

You'll need to demonstrate the following:

  • leadership
  • co operation and the ability to work as part of a team
  • the ability to contribute to and implement organisational strategy
  • the capacity to work with people at all levels in an organisation
  • the ability to manage a team of individuals, each a specialist in their own area.

Work experience

A range of experience in hardware, operating systems, software and team leadership through appropriate paid or unpaid work experience will enhance your skills portfolio.

If you have work experience abroad, even if not directly related to IT, global companies may be interested in you.

You could consider applying for programming jobs and company training programmes as a first career step. You could also take advantage of networking opportunities offered through membership of a professional body such as the BCS (The Chartered Institute for IT).

Employers

Opportunities exist in any organisation that makes use of IT facilities, so the range of potential employers is vast.

Recruiters include:

  • IT sector companies including consultancy firms, software houses, IT services providers and telecom companies - ranging from industry giants such as IBM, to micro companies employing fewer than five people
  • not-for-profit sector organisations
  • private sector businesses, including financial institutions
  • public sector organisations, such as local and central government, universities, hospitals and education institutions.

Self-employment and freelance consultancy are also options.

Look for job vacancies at:

Specialist recruitment agencies such as Crimson and Monarch IT commonly handle vacancies.

Professional development

There are no widely-recognised training courses for this management role. However, you'll find regular training in specific technical products, offered by product suppliers and IT training providers on operating systems such as Oracle and Microsoft - essential to your career development.

Most of your training is likely to be technical in nature to ensure that you're up to speed with developments, but you'll also need to develop your soft skills, including:

  • communication
  • customer service skills
  • project management
  • team work and team leadership
  • time management.

You can also expect to be trained in company systems and procedures. The majority of training is on the job, supplemented by short, internal or external courses as appropriate.

Formal training is more likely in larger organisations and may include mentoring schemes and tailored training. In smaller companies, a greater degree of self-study - such as e-learning courses - may be the norm.

BCS provides a range of training courses resulting in professional IT qualifications and has details of accredited training providers offering digital IT apprenticeships.

Qualifications and continuing professional development (CPD) programmes are offered by the Society of Information Technology Management (Socitm). For a range of courses, events and advice you may consider becoming a member of techUK.

Career prospects

Once you're in the role of information systems manager, you'll have a wide variety of career options open to you.

In a larger organisation you may be able to follow a structured career path leading to increased management and technical responsibility. You could also progress into roles in project management and IT group management.

In smaller companies there may be less progression potential but greater flexibility to either work across more aspects of the business or to customise your role in line with your interests. Where progression is limited, you can usually use the experience you've gained to move on to a different company, perhaps to broaden your skillset.

You could eventually consider moving into technical consultancy, contracting or project management.