What is a Chief Information Officer?

In today’s highly technological society, information technology is a thriving field and many may ask what is a chief information officer (CIO)? A chief information officer is the most senior executive of an information technology related entity. He or she is responsible for the technological direction of a business or organizations. He or she devises IT strategies to promote success of an enterprise and ensure all the necessary systems are in place to support goals and operations. He or she oversees all IT programs and projects. He or she manages the daily operations of IT departments and supervises all IT professionals to make sure the department is running smoothly. Specific duties, qualifications, and career outlook and salary categorize this upper level position.


The main duty of a CIO is to establish and implement objectives and strategies within the IT department of a company. He or she chooses and employs suitable technology to update all internal operations and help improve their strategic advantages. He or she designs and adapts technological systems and platforms to enhance the experience of customers or clients. He or she plans the application of new systems and provides training and guidance to IT professionals within the establishment. A CIO also oversees the technological infrastructure, including computer systems and networks, to ensure optimum functioning. He or she monitors advancements and modifications in technology to find ways the organization can gain a competitive benefit. A CIO is responsible for the budgeting of the department, and he or she evaluates the costs, value, and risks of information technology tools and programs to provide advice and recommendations to management. He or she approves purchase of software and equipment and maintains strong relationships with IT providers.


A highly qualified CIO must have a strong background in information technology with extensive experience in the field. In general, a CIO must have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, or related area, but most high executives have a master’s degree in the field. Extensive work experience in information technology is also necessary and many CIOs have previous managerial experience. A CIO must have excellent understanding of IT systems and infrastructure and a solid strategic and business expertise. He or she must have strong leadership qualities and superior problem-solving and analytical skills. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are also necessary as a CIO commonly works with a wide range of employees, clients, and partners.

Career Outlook and Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states the job outlook for top executives, like a CIO, is expected to increase six percent by the year 2024, which is about as fast as average for all jobs in the nation. Constantly changing information technology will result in the establishment of new organizations, creating new jobs for CIOs. On average, CIOs earn around $162,000 per year, with a salary range of $99,000 to $308,000. Actual annual salaries will vary greatly depending on location, employer, industry, education, and experience.

Information technology is constantly changing and advancing and highly qualified executives are needed to direct IT departments in many different companies and organizations. Working as a chief information officer is ideal for driven individuals with a strong background in information technology seeking to direct and oversee the use of technology within an entity.

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