Information systems professionals oversee computer and information system activities in all types of organizations. They establish what the information technology goals are for the company, and are in charge of implementing the computer and software systems to accomplish those goals.
What Is Information Systems?
Information systems comprise the organization and analysis of business information through applying modern technology. Information systems blends the vital concepts of operations, management and information systems with computer science and engineering theories and technologies to manage the data and information in an organization.
Information systems managers and professionals must learn how to design, build and evaluate these complex systems. It is necessary to have a very intricate understanding of what the information needs are of the organization, what its business processes are that both generate and consume information, and what the roles are of the people and groups that are involved in these processes.
Information systems day to day activities may include the following:
- Performing analysis of computer needs for a company and recommending upgrades to improve performance
- Plan and direct how new systems are installed and maintained to enhance efficiency
- Ensure that the company’s networks and electronic documents are secure from hackers
- Assess the benefits and costs of new IS projects, and explain to executives why the projects should be funded
- Constantly learn about new technology and look for new ways to enhance computer systems
Professionals in information systems positions also can specialize in many areas, such as computer security, network architecture, software development, computer programming, and computer system analysis.
Every year, the top IT staffing company Robert Half Technology publishes a report that details the technology hiring trends in the US. Year after year, the report indicates there is a strong need for highly educated IT professionals.
The most recent report in 2016 was a continuation of the decade-long trend. The report noted that 60% of the country’s responding CIOs stated that it is challenging to find skilled information systems and technology professionals. Also, 85% of CIOs that year stated that they planned to hire information systems professionals in the near future.
The Robert Half Technology report stated that the following information systems and information technology jobs are in particularly strong demand. Professionals who have at least a bachelor’s degree but ideally a master’s degree MIS in information systems will find that they are in strong contention for these excellent technical occupations:
- Information systems manager: Responsible for managing various IT projects; supervising information systems staff; delegating IT projects to lower personnel; monitor progress in reaching IT and IS goals and budgets. The projected job growth for IS managers is a solid 15%.
- Management analyst: Provide advice to company managers on how to increase productivity and profitability; collect information about a problem or company procedure that needs to be improved; perform onsite observations and employee interviews to determine what improvements need to be made; devise detailed reports and presentations to illustrate company changes that need to be made. Projected job growth is pegged at a strong 14% by 2024.
- Software system developer: Responsible for testing, designing, and developing software to meet the specific needs of software users; create every part of the application and plan for how each piece will interact with the other; do regular maintenance and testing to be certain that each program is working right. Also, work with other system developers to create excellent software. Job growth will be above average at 13% by 2024.
- Information security analyst: Provide monitoring services of networks for dangerous security breaches, and investigate when they are detected; install and maintain cutting edge software to safeguard mission and company critical information; simulate security attacks to find vulnerable systems; devise strong security standards and best practices for the organization. Job growth is projected at a very strong 18%.
- Software applications developer: Design and customize modern computer applications software; provide modifications for current software to improve efficiency or to correct vital errors; evaluate software needs and needs of users to determine if the software is feasible; develop new software system testing and procedures for validation. Job increase will be a rapid 19% by 2024.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS reported in 2016 that there were 348,500 information systems and computer systems managers in the US. BLS also reported that they were working in the following areas:
- Computer systems design and related services: 20%
- Finance and insurance: 12%
- Information: 11%
- Management of companies and enterprises: 10%
- Manufacturing: 9%
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary for information systems and computer system managers was $135,800. The lowest 10% earned less than $82,300 per year, and the top 10% earned more than $200,000 per year.
Salaries in this field will vary based upon the industry in which you work:
- Information: $150,190
- Computer systems design: $143,000
- Finance and insurance: $142,890
- Manufacturing: $139,500
- Management of enterprises and companies: $136,690
Where you live also is an important factor of what your salary will be.
Bizjournal.com reported recently that the following cities have the highest salaries for information systems managers:
- San Jose, California: $179,000
- San Francisco: $162,000
- Bridgeport, Connecticut: $149,000
- Washington DC: $145,000
- Seattle, Washington: $144,000
- Houston, Texas: $143,900
- Boston, Massachusetts: $142,000
- Durham, North Carolina: $141,000
With an information systems degree, you will be employable in almost all industries.
Some of the best employers for information systems professionals are:
- Procter and Gamble
- JP Morgan Chase
- General Electric
- Cleveland Clinic
- Hospital Corporation of America
- Kaiser Permanente
Earning a bachelor’s degree in information systems allows you to develop the basic expertise to work as a lower level manager or administrator in a company in deploying new technologies. At the bachelor’s level, you learn how to design, operate and evaluate information systems to meet company goals.
You also learn about the basic aspects of computer technology and how to apply them appropriately and accurately in various industry settings.
Many professionals earn their bachelor’s degree in information systems and gain a few years of work experience. Then they go on to earn their graduate degree in the field.
A master’s degree in information systems trains students in more advanced IS methodologies, with a strong emphasis on design, implementation, and evaluation of new software applications and theoretical computer software models.
Professionals who want to become upper-level information system managers or even chief technology officers typically earn a master’s degree in information systems. To work as a chief information officer, a good background is an MBA with a focus on information systems or information technology.
Many information systems professionals prefer to earn their MBA degree online so that they can continue to work and gain vital experience. Today there are many high quality and affordable online information systems degree options. A good possible choice is the Master of Science in Information Systems offered by Northwestern University.
Common admission requirements for a master’s program in information systems are:
- Minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate work
- Official college transcripts
- Satisfactory completion of prerequisite courses in mathematics and computer science
- GMAT or GRE scores may be required
- Two or three letters of recommendation
- Updated resume
- Statement of purpose
The curriculum will vary based on the university. However, if you choose an accredited information systems program, you will know that the curriculum follows the highest standards of education in the field.
Typical courses that you will take in this degree program include:
- Telecommunication Networks
- Object Oriented Programming
- Database systems Design and Implementation
- Database Administration
- Data Science and Machine Learning
- Big Data Management and Analytics
Some universities will have specializations available in information systems programs, such as:
- Database and Internet technologies
- Project management
- Information systems security
- Health informatics
The information systems field is broad, and the work is in so many different industries. It is common for information systems professionals to specialize in certain areas:
- Cyber systems and network security: Focuses on security of applications, data and networks
- Data center operations and management: The focus is on efficient management of data centers, which is becoming so important today given the massive increase in data availability regarding consumer purchases and supply chain management
- Data management and analytics: Designing, developing and administrating data resources to improve both traditional and Internet-based management of data
- IT entrepreneurship and management: Centers on the managerial, innovation and entrepreneurial skills that are needed to maintain and launch a new business
- Management information systems: Designing and creating productive information systems that management can use to make companies more effective and efficient
- Software development: Programming new software and developing in-demand consumer and business applications
There are many external organizations outside of the university you are attending that offer scholarships for information system students:
- Boeing Company: Up to $5000 per year
- Robert Half Technology Scholarship: $2500
- ISC Foundation Graduate Cybersecurity Scholarship: $5000
- BHW Scholarship: $3000
- Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship: $20,000
- Buildium’s Women in Technology Scholarship: $2500
- Center for Women in Technology Scholars Program: $22,000
- Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship: $31,200
- ISA Educational Foundation Scholarship: $5000
Earning an information systems degree will enhance your career prospects. But getting certifications in the field will really maximize your career options and salary potential. Consider these in-demand information systems certifications:
- Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
It is recommended for information systems professionals to be associated with some of the following professional organizations in the industry. You can enhance your information systems skills, learn about new technology and network with others to find job opportunities:
- Association for Information Systems
- Association of Information Systems Professionals
- Management Information Systems Association
- Information System Security Association
- National Association for Justice Information Systems
- International Association for Information Systems for Crisis Managers
A career in information systems opens the door wide to many exciting and rewarding job possibilities, with a nearly endless demand for your services, and very enticing salaries.
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- Computer and Information Systems Managers. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm
- Illinois Institute of Technology. Specialization Topics. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://appliedtech.iit.edu/information-technology-and-management/programs/specialization-topics
- Thomas, S. Highest Paying Markets for Computer and Information Systems Managers. (2013, April 30). Retrieved from http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/on-numbers/scott-thomas/2013/04/pay-in-group-022.html
- Northwestern University. Master of Science in Information Systems Management. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.sps.nyu.edu/academics/departments/mcghee/undergraduate/bs-information-systems-management.html