How Do You Become an IT Project Manager?

IT Project ManagerEvery business uses computers in its daily operations, and if you’re naturally interested in business and computers, you may want to become an IT project manager. There are several types of IT managers, and a project manager is usually the person directly in charge of the employees of a company’s technology departments.

The Role of an IT Project Manager

Depending on how large the company is, the project manager may answer to a chief technology officer, or CTO, who in turn may answer to a chief information officer, or CIO. These executives make the highest-level decisions regarding technology in the company, but they take their overall direction from the chief executive officer, or CEO, who is the decision-maker with the most influence in the company.

In a large company, an IT project manager is a middle management position that requires computer and business expertise. A bachelor’s degree in computer science or management information systems is usually the minimum requirement, but many large companies also require a master of business administration with a focus in mathematics or computing.

Before you can become an IT project manager, you have to spend a few years in a business technology role, such as software development, information security or network architecture, which itself requires a few years of experience in information systems analysis. The path to management in this field begins with college, and once you begin working, if you’re focused, the rest of the path is straightforward.

Getting the Necessary Credentials

With a bachelor’s degree, you can get hired as a computer systems analyst, network administrator or software developer, and if you work for a big company, your employer may pay for your MBA in exchange for a commitment to stay at the company for a certain number of years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you can find this kind of arrangement, you will be a project manager when you receive your master’s degree. You will also have several years of experience working in a technology position for a large corporation, which will help you get more responsibility in your field as you progress.

A project management position typically requires three to five years of experience, and a CTO or CIO position usually requires five to 10 years of experience, possibly more. In a middle management position, you won’t need as much experience, because you won’t be responsible for the overall vision for the technology department. You will be in charge of the daily operations of the technology personnel, and you will implement the decisions made by the executives at the head of the department.

The position requires several years of experience, because you will need at least a basic understanding of the technical details of each role in the department, such as cyber security, computer systems analysis and network design. One of the most important tasks for a project manager is designing and maintaining a company’s wireless and mobile networks. As companies adopt bring-your-own-device policies, information security becomes more of a priority. A large part of your job will be BYOD-related, such as directing anti-virus software installations and remote data wipes.

Related Resource: Master’s in Computer Science

The role of IT has changed a lot over the last 25 years as network technology has improved and allowed businesses to use cloud computing for data storage and software services. If you’re prepared for the challenges of keeping a business’s information secure while taking its technology in new directions, you may be cut out to become an IT project manager.