Whether overseeing the financial systems of Wall Street or a hospital's electronic medical records, an information technology -- or IT -- director must ensure that technology runs smoothly. Also referred to as chief technology officers, or CTOs, these professionals are responsible for the acquisition, operation, integration and problem-solving aspects of both hardware and software systems.
Basic Skills and Characteristics
The BLS notes that a CTO must have strong technical expertise, and the necessary knowledge to design and recommend technology solutions for an organization. The CTO must be able to work with a wide range of people and communicate on many levels. Other important characteristics are analytical, leadership and organization skills, and strong decision-making ability. A CTO must be able to see beyond the technical wizardry of information technology to the impact on users and the need to integrate multiple systems.
In some organizations, the CTO reports to a chief information officer, who is the most senior IT professional in the organization. In others, the CTO fulfills some or all CIO duties. Among these are developing new technologies, choosing hardware and software, or developing technology strategies. CTOs, like most managers, are responsible for hiring, training and supervising IT staff. They might also develop departmental budgets and schedules, provide network support, and work with vendors to choose or implement new systems.
A Few Other Tasks
Secondary tasks for a CTO vary according to the industry and organization. In a healthcare setting, for example, a CTO may ensure that patient monitoring and data devices are compatible with electronic medical records. In a business setting, the CTO may be involved in the selection of software to meet the company’s specific needs. Depending on the size of the organization and the CTO's particular skillset, she might also perform hands-on IT work.
Education, Salary and Growth
A bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum educational requirement for a CTO, and the BLS notes that most people in this position have five or more years or experience in the field. Certifications in information technology are available and might be required by some employers. In 2013, computer and information systems managers earned an average annual salary of $132,570, according to the BLS. Job growth in this field is projected to be 15 percent from 2012 through 2022, slightly higher than the average for all occupations.