How to become an IT Manager

Woman uses laptop standing next to IT systems

IT managers play a number of important roles including leading teams and projects. Learn more about the role and how to become an IT manager.

It doesn’t matter which industry they’re in; almost every company today depends on well-run and sophisticated IT infrastructures. Digital systems, from cloud servers to email services, have become integral to how most organisations operate, and it’s impossible to imagine a world without them.

This means that companies are increasingly looking for an employee with the specific role of ensuring that these IT processes run smoothly. With an average salary in Australia of $126,219, becoming an IT manager is an attractive proposition for many with experience in the world of cloud computing, server management, or IT.

However, finding a position as an IT manager is not always an easy task—it requires a mix of technical skills, soft skills, and experience in IT. Read on to find out more about how you can become an IT manager.

What is an IT manager?

Imagine that a company wants to establish a new software to manage business call forwarding. Or that a small business is looking to migrate its physical data to a cloud server. To do this successfully, they’ll need to have a small team of IT professionals, and the person responsible for this team is an IT manager.

IT managers, also known as information systems managers or IT directors, will have responsibility for managing an organisation’s team of IT experts; this will involve recruiting new staff, training and onboarding these new recruits and motivating and organizing the workforce. They’ll usually also have to stay on top of the IT department’s budget and report to the organisation’s hierarchy.

As well as these responsibilities for IT personnel, IT managers will also have to look after all of the technology used by an organisation. You’ll have to identify appropriate technology solutions, ensure that existing technology is kept up-to-date and secure, and lead responses to any technical issues that other departments might have.

Essential skills required for IT managers

Two IT employees have meeting together

With responsibilities that can span from project management to finding technical solutions to computing problems, you’ll need to have a suitably wide range of skills to become an IT manager. There’s no doubt that some of the most essential skills are the “hard skills” that are associated with any career in IT:

1. Networking expertise

One of the most common tasks for an IT team to complete in any organisation is to set up and manage networks. You’ll have to know how to establish WiFi networks and effectively set up routers. Knowledge of the more complex side of networking, including cybersecurity, and establishing cloud networks and servers, is also absolutely necessary.

2. Database administration

With physical filing systems a thing of the past, companies are more reliant on databases than ever before. This means you’ll have to be adept at administering these databases, whether they’re stored on physical servers or cloud storage solutions, and lead innovations such as improving automation efficiency on your databases.

You’ll have to make sure that your organisation’s databases are securely protected and that they are on the most up-to-date infrastructure. Without this, you’ll risk leaving your company’s entire operations at the mercy of hackers.

3. Programming

If you want to become an IT manager, you’ll likely already have coding experience. However, if you want to lead a large team of IT professionals, you should be comfortable working in various coding languages. That way, you can lead and advise on a range of different projects.

4. Industry and product knowledge

A large part of an IT manager’s job is sourcing suitable technical solutions for your organisation, meaning that you need an in-depth knowledge of the IT industry.

Your expertise will be required on a wide range of topics, from troubleshooting problems to setting up a new cloud server to researching international calling plans. You should be able to recognize adequate hardware and software for your organisation while also staying on top of topics such as cybersecurity and AI.

With cloud computing becoming such an important part of many businesses, it’s also vital that you have a strong awareness of different web services and how to operate them effectively.

Team of IT employees brainstorming

As well as these technical skills, you’ll also need to be able to manage a diverse and dynamic team of IT professionals effectively. If you want to make the step up into IT management, this means that you’ll need the following “soft skills”:

1. Resilience

As an IT manager, you’ll have to get used to the fact that much of your job will be responding to problems such as network failures or missing data. Being resilient will mean that these problems won’t bother you—you’ll have to keep on working through them every day.

2. Communication

While some positions in IT might largely involve individual work, being an IT manager will require great communication skills. You’ll have to effectively communicate complex IT concepts to non-specialists as well as work with your team of IT experts.

You need to be comfortable talking with your team in-person while at the office or through a unified communications system like Vonage call center for business software. Being able to adapt your communication style to suit different channels is a useful skill to have and will make managing your team easier.

3. Adaptability and innovation

IT is one of the fastest evolving industries, and you’ll have to ensure that you’re adaptable to new technologies such as AI and machine learning. You’ll also have to have the ability to use these new technologies in innovative ways that benefit your organisation.

4. Leadership

The main difference between an IT specialist and an IT manager is the requirement to lead a team. You’ll have to be able to manage large projects successfully, keep your team motivated and organised, and, as you will be given a good amount of independence, ensure that you’re self-motivated and driven.

4 steps to becoming an IT manager

4 happy IT employees meet outdoors

If you think you have the right mix of soft and hard skills, or you think you can develop them, then a job as an IT manager might be the right option for you. Here’s a step-by-step process to become an IT manager:

1. Get the necessary qualifications

IT managers are almost invariably very well-educated. If you’re still in high school, try to take IT-related subjects such as computer science, as well as other STEM subjects. You’ll also need a bachelor’s degree with a focus on subjects such as IT or other information systems majors. You could also consider getting a Master’s degree to stand out when applying to positions.

2. Find entry-level employment

Before you can become an IT manager, you’ll need to gain experience. You probably won’t have too much trouble finding an entry-level job as an IT support specialist or another technical role. These jobs will give you time and space to build a portfolio of finding effective IT solutions, as well as develop skills such as new coding languages.

You’ll also be able to demonstrate crucial soft skills, from working in a team to communicating effectively with non-specialists. Even if your dream job isn’t to work as a basic IT technician, it’s almost impossible to go straight into an IT manager position, working through entry-level positions is a vital step if you want to become an IT manager.

3. Locate opportunities for progression and leadership

Once you’re in these entry-level jobs, you should always look for opportunities to develop yourself and take on more and more responsibilities. This might start with offering to lead a small team on a project, which will allow you to get used to leadership techniques and develop interpersonal skills.

It’s also important that you don’t avoid taking on responsibilities, even if this might seem intimidating. You could offer to take responsibility for migrating your company’s data to the cloud, for example, which will give you a concrete example of project delivery when you’re looking to make the final step into management.

4. Look for management positions

Woman in corporate attire talks on phone

When you feel that you have the right qualifications, skills, and experience to be an effective IT manager, you should be constantly searching for management positions. Communicate to your bosses in your current role that you’d be interested in a management role if one opened up–companies will often prefer to hire from within.

As well as looking within your current organisation, you can use email or PDF faxing online to send your resume to a wide range of companies—even if they’re not actively looking for an IT manager, you can benefit from making potential employers aware of your experience and skills.

Before applying for IT manager positions, it's essential to craft a compelling professional summary that highlights your relevant experience and expertise. By including a well-crafted professional summary, you can make a strong impression and demonstrate your suitability for the role.

Emphasize your managerial skills, technical knowledge, and leadership capabilities. Tailor your summary to align with the specific requirements of the IT manager position you're applying for. This concise overview of your qualifications will grab the attention of hiring managers and increase your chances of landing an IT management role.

Become an IT manager

If you’re interested in becoming an IT manager, you should follow the advice shared in this article. This will ensure that you are well-placed to have the necessary skills and experiences to find a management position.

It’s important to remember that you’ll need to have a blend of soft and hard skills, going from communication and resilience to programming experience and in-depth IT knowledge, if you want to have a management role in an IT team. This means that it’s vital that you develop your skills and experience through the step-by-step process that we outlined, it’s impossible to simply walk into an IT manager job.

While this process might seem long, it’s worth being patient. With IT becoming increasingly important in our world, the future for IT managers seems bright, becoming an IT manager has never been more attractive!

Please note this article is intended for general informational purposes only.

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