The following article details what a career in information systems entails. You will learn what information systems professionals do, where they work, job duties, popular career directions, certifications, and more.
What We Do
An information systems career is most often spent in roles such as information technology managers or IT project managers. These information systems professionals are responsible for planning, coordinating, and directing the computer-related activities in a company or organization.
Information systems professionals lead efforts to determine the IT goals of the company, and they are then responsible for implementing the computer systems that are required to meet the established goals.
Information technology managers themselves do not commonly handle all of the above on their own. There are many types of information systems professionals and managers who work together to accomplish these goals.
Information systems professionals normally have these types of job duties:
- Analyze the company’s computer and software needs, and recommend any possible upgrades that are needed
- Plan and direct how new computer hardware and software is going to be maintained or installed
- Ensure that the company’s electronic documents and network is secure from cyber attackers
- Perform a cost/benefit analysis of new information systems projects and propose budgets for the new systems.
- Justify the costs of new and upgraded computer systems to upper level managers
- Decide what the short and long term computer and personnel needs are for the company or department
- Plan, supervise and direct the work of other information systems professionals. These can include software developers, information security analysts and computer systems analysts
- Handle negotiations with computer system vendors to obtain the best service and pricing for the technology the company uses.
Information systems professionals may work in companies under different names and titles, largely depending upon company size. Some of the possible options are chief technology officer, chief information officer, IT director and IT security manager.
Where We Work
Information systems professionals work in virtually all industries today around the world. The industries that most often employ computer and information systems managers are:
- Computer systems design and related services: 20%
- Insurance and finance industry: 12%
- Information: 11%
- Management of enterprises and companies: 10%
- Manufacturing: 9%
For the best job possibilities in information systems, the experts point to these hot US cities:
- Seattle, Washington: This booming northwest powerhouse has plenty of high tech and information technology jobs but a lower cost of living than California. The median home price is high at $382,000, but that is much less than San Francisco.
- Austin, Texas: This is a midsize, central Texas city, but there is a low cost of living, and a booming job market. The median home price is still under $300,000. Hot jobs include solutions architect, data scientist and business systems analyst.
- Salt Lake City, Utah: The median home price here is very low at $234,000, and there are many jobs in product management, support engineering, and software engineering.
- Boston, Massachusetts: This is the best tech hub in the northeast, and has a median base salary of $68,000. Hot jobs are data scientist, information systems manager and applications developer.
- Washington, DC: The median salary here is $70,000 and the median home price is $364,000. The US government contracts with many private tech companies, and lots of jobs are always available in information systems.
How to Become
You will need your bachelor’s degree in computer science or information systems to work in virtually any information systems career. Many information systems professionals also have a master’s degree in programming, software development or information systems.
Payscale.com reports that the median salary for information systems managers is $81,928, and the range is $48,445 to $119,756. The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS reports that the median salary for computer and information systems managers is $131,600.
The job outlook for information systems managers is excellent with a healthy 15% increase in jobs by 2024. Employment growth is being caused across the country by the need to expand company operations to fully digital services and platforms.
Further, much employment growth is slated in the area of cyber security. There are more cyber attacks occurring every year and hacker techniques constantly evolve. That is why the information systems-related career path of information security analyst is seeing rapid growth. BLS reports this career will grow by an impressive 18% by 2024. The median salary is $90,120.
A very important related career to information systems is software developer. The job outlook in this career also is outstanding with 17% more jobs on the way by 2024. You will be well paid for your services at a median wage of $98,100.
Another vital career path is computer systems analyst, and employment in this field is growing by 21% by 2024, with a median pay of $85,800.
There are many related but different career paths in the information systems field. In addition to the role of computer and information systems manager described earlier, you also can work in these roles:
- Software developer: Develop the applications and/or systems that allow consumers and businesses to do various tasks on computers and other electronic devices. Senior software developers manage the development process for new software programs.
- Computer programmer: Write and perform tests of code that allow the computer applications and software to work as intended. They are responsible for transforming a program design into reality, and into instructions that a computer can follow.
- Computer systems analyst: They study the current computer systems that the organization has, and they then design information systems solutions that will help the company to operate in a more effective and efficient manner.
- Computer and information research scientist: They invent and/or design new approaches to computers and they also find new ways to use current computer and software technology to meet new goals. They analyze computer problems that exist in business, science and medicine.
- Information security analyst: They develop and carry out computer security measures to protect the networks and computer systems of many organizations.
The majority of information systems professionals acquire a bachelor’s degree in computer or information science. They will typically take courses in software development, mathematics, and computer programming.
Information systems professionals who want to lead teams and/or departments may get an MBA in information technology. Those who want to pursue a more technical managerial path may earn their master’s degree in computer science or information systems.
Specializations in information systems vary depending upon your precise career choice. Common specializations in the information systems management space are:
- IT director: Responsible for the company’s information technology systems and department; usually are supervising a team of programmers and developers.
- IT security manager: Oversee data and network security. Work with leading executives to optimize critical security policies.
- Chief technology officer: Evaluate new computer technology and make cost/benefit decisions on how it can aid the organization.
- Systems designer: Help the company to select specific types of software and hardware systems. They must be able to translate company business goals into technical solutions that can be delivered affordably.
- Systems quality assurance analyst: Conduct detailed testing and diagnose the potential problems of the systems that are being designed. They may do a high degree of coding and debugging, but may also work heavily with management to determine the exact business requirements of new systems.
Training and Certifications
Professionals who want to accelerate their information systems career may want to consider earning these designations:
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA): This is a designation known around the world for IS audit control, assurance and computer security. Shows that you have the ability to assess systems vulnerabilities, produce compliance reports and be able to institute proper controls.
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): A well known computer security credential that shows that you have a high level of information security competency to protect your organization from cyber attack. This credential also will prove that you have a high degree of technical and managerial skill to engineer and properly manage IS programs.
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM): This is a designation for professionals who need to implement security and IT policy. It is not intended for the people who actually are carrying out the work. It is highly appropriate for IT managers and security managers.
- Computer and Information Systems Managers. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from
- Information Systems Manager. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Information_Systems_(IS)_Manager/Salary
- Sheridan, K. 10 Best US Cities for Tech in 2016. (2016, May 22). Retrieved from http://www.informationweek.com/big-data/big-data-analytics/10-best-us-cities-for-tech-jobs-in-2016/d/d-id/132559