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Part of Western Governors University

November 14, 2019

Elevating your IT career with a master's degree.

Two IT professionals look at a laptop together.

You arrive at your desk, freshly caffeinated, and your boss gives you your first IT assignment of the day. Do you ever wonder what it would be like if you were giving the marching orders?

Advancing your IT career by seeking a management-level position is certainly an attainable goal. You'll need to learn new skills, such as how to manage projects and people, but your efforts are likely to be rewarded. While the average IT worker in the United States earns more than $80,000 a year, Glassdoor reports, IT managers typically make between $108,000 and $133,000, according to salary.com.

How long you'll need to pay your dues as an IT professional before you can move up to a managerial position can vary widely, depending on the skills you already have and the size, location, and culture of your institution. Earning a master's degree in IT management, however, can accelerate your IT career advancement considerably by teaching you the skills required for management positions.

Core components of an IT master's program.

During a master's program, students hone the fundamental skills they developed in their bachelor's programs, specialize in particular areas, and connect technical skills with high-level organizational skills. A master's program in IT management specifically teaches you how to apply IT solutions to business needs. You'll learn the essential project management and problem-solving skills needed to drive change and keep organizations running smoothly.

In an IT master's program, you'll learn about IT through a number of courses, including:

  • Current and Emerging Technology. IT managers need to stay abreast of trends and developments in tech so that they can determine what technologies can solve their organizations' key business challenges. This course teaches you how to do that.

  • Project Management. This is a critical skill for IT managers, as project success depends on knowing how to set goals and milestones, delegate tasks, and effectively deploy resources. Project management courses will give you hands-on training in managing teams and deadlines.

  • Financial Management for IT Professionals. IT managers must know how to leverage budgets to improve organizational decision-making. In this course, you'll learn the basics of budgeting, how to align operating budgets with strategic initiatives, and how to spend money on the right kinds of projects and equipment to advance your goals.

  • Technical Communication. Effective communication is foundational for any manager, and IT managers must know how to communicate to audiences with varying degrees of technical sophistication. Technical communication courses will teach you the best practices in oral and written communication and how to strategize approaches for communicating with different audiences.

  • Power, Influence, and Leadership. Communication is one aspect of successful leadership, but IT managers also must know how to build personal influence, encourage ideas, and resolve conflicts among employees. In this course, you'll learn these skills and develop the emotional intelligence needed to manage employees effectively.

In these and other courses, you'll get the experiential training you need to be an effective technical wizard and an influential manager. As you work through the master's program in IT management, you'll complete a hands-on capstone project, which can look great on a résumé, and you'll have an opportunity to earn a project management certification. Once you've earned your degree, you'll be able to apply for high-level positions, such as chief information officer (CIO), manager of information systems, IT director, and IT infrastructure manager.

Proving your mettle.

Moving into a management and leadership position is a big step in your IT career—and not just because it comes with a higher salary and more respect. It comes with more expectations and requires more personal responsibility.

Earning a master's degree in IT management will help you learn the skills you'll need to be effective in this role and will demonstrate that you have what it takes to succeed.

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