Chief Information OfficerJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

Along with chief operating officer and chief financial officer, the chief information officer (CIO) is one of the principals at a firm under the chief executive officer.

Chief information officers oversee all of a firm’s IT, computer, and networking functions. They must be well-versed in the current technologies available, and able to analyze and decide which are best for the firm to invest in and utilize to meet its short- and long-term goals.

CIOs must also be intuitive in thinking about their firm’s evolving technology and cybersecurity needs in the future, and in finding and acquiring the right systems and personnel to be ready to support those needs.

Sample job description

Do you have the ability to adapt quickly? Are you great at anticipating and satisfying needs? If so, you might be the perfect fit as a chief information officer.

Chief information officers use a combination of excellent business acumen, technical prowess, strategic thinking, and project management to manage a company’s IT and computer systems.

This invaluable position must respond quickly to trends and anticipate the technological needs of their company. They have to have great business sense, excellent people skills, and a good understanding of the limitations of the technology available.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Plan, purchase, coordinate, and manage a firm’s technology infrastructure
  • Monitor related project metrics
  • Directly manage IT staff
  • Oversee IT operations, network administration, service desk, IT security, telephony, and related applications
  • A key advisor to the President and CEO
  • Liaison with external technology vendors

Education and experience

The career path for a chief information officer (CIO) entails obtaining a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems, IT management, or a related field; an MBA is a plus. To become a CIO, a candidate must have multiple years of experience in technology management in a strategic leadership role, preferably at a law firm.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Deep and up-to-date knowledge and understanding of IT and related topics
  • Strong organizational and project management skills
  • Experience leading and managing people
  • Highly organized, and able to multitask
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Expertise in time management
  • Keen attention to detail

Preferred qualifications

  • 10+ years managing a team
  • Strong knowledge of system infrastructure and implementation
  • Understanding of budgets and business-planning
  • Ability to conduct technological analyses and research
  • Excellent communication, strong leadership skills, and organizational abilities

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a chief information officer is $216,000 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$69,500$94,050
Los Angeles, California$78,450$106,100
Denver, Colorado$65,350$88,400
Washington, DC$79,600$107,700
Miami, Florida$65,050$88,000
Orlando, Florida$60,000$81,200
Tampa, Florida$60,600$82,000
Atlanta, Georgia$63,550$86,000
Chicago, Illinois$73,100$98,850
Boston, Massachusetts$79,000$106,900
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$63,000$85,200
New York City, New York$83,200$112,550
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$67,750$91,650
Dallas, Texas$65,950$89,250
Houston, Texas$65,350$88,400
Seattle, Washington$76,050$102,900
National Average$183,600$248,400

Typical work environment

CIOs will spend a great deal of time seated at a computer. Long hours of meetings with executive management, staff, colleagues, stakeholders, and vendors are expected, as well as the potential for long commutes for meetings and conferences. 

Typical hours

The work hours for a chief information officer are usually from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, in an office setting. However, many CIOs work longer hours, depending on the needs of an individual firm.

Available certifications

As chief information officers work in a variety of industries, there are many institutions that offer certifications, including:

  • Project Manager Professional. One of the key areas that define the success or failure of a manager, especially at the executive level, is their ability to manage a project. By obtaining this certification you demonstrate your ability to apply the best practices and methods of project management from start to finish. You’ll obtain a thorough understanding of the six domains: Initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, controlling, and finally closing. 
  • Certified Information Security Manager. One of the largest threats to companies is the breach and theft of data by malicious actors. Being able to provide confidence to your employer by demonstrating your knowledge and experience with internationally recognized best practices and elite designation by obtaining this certification is as much assurance as can be provided. 
  • PMI Risk Management Professional. CIOs arguably guide and make the most vital and long-term decisions for companies in the 21st century. Every year businesses put a million or billion-dollar bet on their CIOs to get their job done correctly, and that understandably comes with a bit of anxiety. By obtaining this certification, you can demonstrate your excellence in managing and mitigating risk in project management. A future employer will know you are more than capable of minimizing risk and capitalizing on opportunities.

Career path

To become a chief information officer, first earn a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems, IT management, or a related field. Beyond that, most companies and law firms prefer candidates who possess an MBA in one of those fields. Additionally, earning certification as a chief information officer can help advance a career in this field.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 11-1011

2020 Employment2,704,400
Projected Employment in 20302,913,900
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 8% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift209,500 increase

According to IT Career Finder, several trends affect the chief information officer occupation. With the ongoing evolution of businesses outsourcing IT services, CIOs must develop their soft skills in vendor management and negotiations. They must also have top-notch technical ability and know-how, plus knowledge of cloud computing. CIOs should also be well-versed in business intelligence and data analysis tools and procedures, and cybersecurity and mobile development.

Sample interview questions

  • What would you consider your management style to be?
  • Can you describe a time when you witnessed a business problem and applied a new technology as a solution? What was the result?
  • What metrics would you monitor daily as a CIO?
  • What do you consider to be the key to the long-term success of an IT department?
  • Can you describe a time in the past you had to deal with a security issue? What was the result?
  • What would you consider to be the top priority of a CIO?
  • What’s your experience with a digital transformation process?
  • Where do you see the IT industry headed in the next 10 years?
  • How do you stay up to date on trends and innovations in the industry?

Chief Information Officer Jobs in Ashburn

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