How to Become an IT Manager: Your 2024 Career Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

As an IT manager, you’ll lead the technological hub of an organization. This exciting, fast-growing career may be an excellent fit for anyone who wants to blend technological and managerial skills.

[Featured image] An IT manager is working on a laptop from home.

Most companies need an information technology (IT) department to ensure their computer network functions as intended and maintains its required connections. The IT department manages three main areas: technological systems governance, infrastructure maintenance, and overall systems functionality. An IT manager is responsible for leading within this department. 

Because the department has such diverse responsibilities, an IT manager must have a broad set of skills along with technological and managerial experience. Let’s take a closer look at how to become an IT manager and what you can expect regarding responsibilities, salary, and advancement opportunities. 

Read more: Do I Need an Information Technology Degree? 4 Things to Consider

What does an IT manager do?

As an IT manager, you’ll be responsible for planning, directing, and overseeing an organization’s computer and information systems. You’ll also coordinate actions related to the business’s hardware, software, and network.

IT management jobs generally fall into two general roles: operational and strategic. 

  • Operational IT manager: You’ll be more of a supervisor or general manager, ensuring smooth daily operations of the IT department. 

Some IT manager roles are both strategic and operational.

Read more: What Are Computer Information Systems? Definition, Degree, and Careers

IT manager tasks and responsibilities

An IT manager may complete managerial and technical duties; their responsibilities and tasks may include: 

  • Evaluating IT needs

  • Strategizing and building the IT roadmap

  • Leading, developing, and training the IT team

  • Making upgrade recommendations based on organizational needs

  • Reviewing bugs and bug fixes

  • Working with technology vendors 

IT manager tools

IT managers typically have many tools at their disposal to help them balance their responsibilities. Some key tools IT managers use include the following:


  • Project management software: These tools allow IT managers to add projects to the software, set schedules, track progress, and add notes and other details for themselves and other parties. Some common project management tools include Trello, Jira, and Microsoft Project.

  • IT automation software: Many smaller tasks that clog up an IT manager’s job can be delegated to automation software, relieving the IT team of repetitive tasks. This helps them focus on projects that require their attention. Some tasks that can be automated include system updates, unit testing, maintenance, security, and reporting.  Some common tools are Red Hat’s Ansible and Solarwinds. 

  • Document management software: As an IT manager in a large department, you will likely have to keep track of many documents. Applications like Adobe Document Cloud or Revver can help you organize digital files like PDFs, spreadsheets, and more. This way, you can improve your department’s collaboration, productivity, and regulatory compliance.

  • Security management software: Maintaining the security of the company’s network, computer systems, and other devices falls under an IT manager’s purview. It’s their responsibility to implement security policies and procedures while not micromanaging their team. This can be handled using security management tools like Wireshark or Splunk.

  • Help desk software: Help desk software connects the IT help desk with the end users and gives them an effective and efficient way to communicate regarding bugs and other technical issues. It also helps prevent end users from approaching busy help desk workers in person to get a problem fixed, which can bog down the workers. One common help desk software is Zendesk Support.

IT manager salary and outlook

According to Lightcast™, the average yearly US salary for a computer and information systems manager, which an IT manager would fall under, is $170,853 [1]. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this career segment to grow 15 percent from 2022 to 2032 [2]. This growth is much faster than the average 3 percent growth rate for all other occupations in the US.

How to become an IT manager

An IT manager is a higher-level role that may require certain education and several years of experience. Let’s review some of the key components of becoming an IT manager.


Organizations hiring IT managers typically require at least a  bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as computer science or information technology. According to Zippia, 64.1 percent of IT managers hold a bachelor’s degree, 17.3 percent have an associate’s, and 12.4 percent have a master’s. Many management information systems (MIS) programs combine business classes with computer-related courses for a well-rounded education.

Do I need a master’s degree? 

Some organizations may require an IT manager to have a graduate degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA). You can earn this degree while working in an IT department and gaining the required technical experience for the role. 



On top of your IT manager education, you’ll also need specialized training and experience before taking on managerial responsibilities. You can gain technical experience in entry-level roles like technical support, systems specialist, or IT specialist. After gaining a few years of experience, you can move into an entry-level IT manager role.

Keep in mind that technical knowledge is only one aspect of gaining the experience to become an IT manager. Another essential part is leadership experience. You can gain this by moving into an IT project manager role or something similar. 

Read more: Entry-Level IT Support Jobs Overview: Skills, Education, Salaries


You can demonstrate your technical and managerial talents through various certifications; it’s also a great way to increase your earning potential. Some useful certifications for IT managers include the following: 

  • PMI Project Management Professional (PMP) is widely recognized as a leading certification in project management. It demonstrates your ability to manage projects, people, and business priorities. 

  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) is an advanced certification that focuses on information security management. It helps demonstrate your ability to manage, develop, and implement a company’s security network and policies. 

  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is an entry-level project management certification designed to be a stepping stone for project management roles.

Read more: Guide to CISM Certification


While gaining experience and earning certifications, you’ll also want to work on specific skills. Some key IT manager skills to gain include: 

  • Strategic thinking: You’ll handle big-picture tech initiatives that can significantly affect a business’s success. You must identify helpful technology and anticipate future trends to do this effectively.

  • Written and verbal communication: As an IT manager, you’ll motivate the IT team and communicate technological tasks to non-technological stakeholders. To do this, you must communicate well verbally and in writing to avoid confusion and misunderstandings. 

  • Ability to handle high-pressure situations: IT managers handle stressful and time-sensitive situations, such as website glitches and security breaches. You must be able to handle these calmly, quickly, and efficiently. 

  • Project management: As an IT manager, you’ll handle large, important projects, so having a broad set of project management skills is crucial. This includes budgeting, scheduling, liaising, and more. 

  • Team management: You’re the leader of the IT department, so management skills are important, such as career guidance, training, employee feedback, and more. 

  • Negotiation: Adding new technology and changing technological processes can be a hot issue in organizations, so an IT manager must have negotiation skills to help get these changes approved and moving forward. 

Getting started with Coursera

If you’re interested in advancing your career in IT project management, consider IBM’s IT Project Manager Professional Certificate on Coursera. This program covers topics such as project lifecycle management, Agile development, and more. Upon completion, gain exclusive access to career resources like resume review, interview prep, and IBM’s People and Soft Skills Specialization

Article sources


Lightcast™ Analyst. “Occupation Summary for Computer and Information Systems Managers.” Accessed April 4, 2024.

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