Chief Information Officers


Employment Prospects


Computer and information systems managers held about 414,000 jobs in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The industries that employed the most computer and information systems managers were as follows: 

  • Computer systems design and related services: 22 percent
  • Information: 11 percent
  • Finance and insurance: 11 percent
  • Management of companies and enterprises: 10 percent
  • Manufacturing: 7 percent

CIOs work for both large and small businesses, and even nonprofit businesses, ranging from small companies to firms with thousands of employees. CIOs are also employed by government agencies and colleges and universities.

Starting Out

Since CIOs are high-level executives, people usually spend 10 to 15 years working in business administration or information management before they apply for jobs at the CIO level. Lower and mid-level information management jobs usually involve specialization in a certain area. For example, middle-level systems management professionals may run technology training programs, design and implement help desks, oversee small database systems, or manage small IT departments. Specializations could also include working in health care or for environmental nonprofit organizations as mid-level or high-level managers.

While gaining experience to become a CIO, individuals would be well-served to gain experience, not only in IT, but also in project management and supervising. 

Advancement Prospects

After they've proven themselves at lower level IT jobs, these employees begin to manage larger IT units. Eventually, some of these employees may have the business experience and broad technical background required to apply for jobs at the CIO level.

Other CIOs may find work at the executive level after making what's known as a lateral move—a move from a position in one department to a position at the same level in another department. For example, successful business administration professionals might be able to move into an information systems department as a manager rather than an entry-level database administrator. But they would still need to prove they had managed to gain the technical know-how required to do the job.

The average CIO had worked in his or her position for about five years, according to a member survey by the Society for Information Management. CIOs can advance to the position of chief executive officer or other executive-level positions. Some are named to corporate boards. Others make lateral moves to the position of chief technology officer, who is responsible for an organization's technology infrastructure. CIOs can also advance by receiving higher salaries and/or moving from a small company to a larger, more prestigious employer.

Tips for Entry

Read CIO magazine ( and MIS Quarterly Executive ( to learn more about industry trends and employers.

Visit for public sector IT job listings.

Land an entry-level job in an Information Technology department to learn about the field and make industry contacts.