How to Become a Chief Technology Officer

Do you harp on the details? Are you skilled at planning out larger technical needs and ventures? It sounds like you could have an awesome career as a Chief Technical Officer.

Job Overview

$101,250
Bachelor's Degree

None
2,136,900
5%
9,700
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Chief Technical Officers, or CTOs, provide upper-level management for a company’s computer and technical assets. Planning, directing and overseeing standard operations, upgrades, repairs and service expansions all fall within the purview of a CTO. They analyze the company’s needs and provide suggested solutions and budgets for issues that may arise. They also oversee the organization’s computer security, plan personnel needs and explore emerging technology for application in their organization.

Requirements and Qualifications

Work is typically performed in an office environment. Long hours are expected, with some overtime in most positions and 24% working over 50 hours a week. Evening, weekend or holiday work may be expected to perform maintenance and upgrades during non-office hours, keeping productivity up during the day for other departments. Keeping up to date with emerging technologies and how they’ll affect your company is of vital importance in this position. Qualities you may want to groom for this position include computer, analytical and technical skills, communication, decision-making processes, leadership and organization.

Typical Education

Though you may be able to find a position with a bachelor’s degree and extensive experience, most organizations look for a CTO who has a graduate degree in computer or information science, or an MBA.

Steps to Become a Chief Technical Officer

After finishing your education, you will need a number of years experience, usually starting out with basic tasks, moving into low and middle management and eventually into a CTO position, with over 15 years’ experience by that point being somewhat common. There is potential to become a Chief Information Officer (CIO) after serving as a CTO for a number of years.

Similar Jobs

Don’t want to be “The Man”? No problem, there are a lot of similar jobs to this career path – read on!

  • Want to see what it takes to break it? Computer hardware engineers conceptualize, design, build and test a variety of chips, boards, drives and related equipment.
  • Is there no place like 127.0.0.1? Computer programmers use other languages, specifically computer code, to turn program developer’s plans into reality.
  • Like DIY and looking for improvements? Computer system analysts study existing systems and suggest ways to change or upgrade them for better performance.
  • Good with numbers and organization? Database administrators store, organize, secure and recall data in business network systems.
  • Who goes there? Information security analysts, web developers, and computer network architects provide services for organizations including securing web and network information, developing a web presence and design office networks for the best possible performance.
  • Can you help find the any key? Network and computer systems administrators provide everyday support, upgrades and maintenance on organizations’ computer assets.
  • Are you great at imagining new ways to solve problems? Software developers design the basic layout and tools for new software programs.
  • Do you have long-range vision? Top executives provide strategic, long-term planning for companies to help them reach their objectives.

Salary

The average annual wage for this occupation was $115,780 in May of 2010, with computer system design and related services, financial and manufacturing sectors paying slightly higher. Over 90% of workers in this category worked full-time, with most working some overtime and 24% working over 50 hours a week.

Job Outlook

Job opportunities for CTOs are expected to rise slightly faster than average for all jobs, at 18% over the next decade. Experience in upgrading equipment and software, security and health care will have the highest growth. You can expect favorable prospects, as many organizations have a hard time finding qualified applicants.

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