What Does A Chief Information Officer / CIO Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Alyssa OmandacCareer, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz


The CIO is responsible for managing the IT department within an organization. They oversee the design, installation, and management of all information and computer technology systems.

Master's degree

A Chief Information Officer (CIO) is the most senior executive in the information technology (IT) department. They help ensure that technologies support the objectives of the organization.

In the 1980s, CIOs focused heavily on the maintenance of internal computer systems and databases. With the emergence of the Internet and cloud computing, the role of the CIO has expanded. CIOs now help develop strategies that allow companies to benefit from the latest technologies. They ensure that companies remain competitive.

While the role of the CIO has evolved, they still require years of technical experience. They often work their way up from other IT positions.

What they do

The CIO is responsible for managing the IT department within an organization. They oversee the design, installation, and management of all information and computer technology systems.

Manage the IT Department

The main responsibility of the CIO is to manage the Information Technology (IT) department. They maintain and improve the organization’s IT resources to maximize productivity and help make difficult tasks easier to accomplish. The CIO needs to ensure that IT operations continue to align with the organization’s goals.

Managing the IT department also involves many administrative tasks. CIOs need to manage budgets, payroll, hiring, and the allocation of resources. They also need to approve the purchase of new equipment or devices.

Supervise the Implementation of New Systems

The CIO is responsible for the implementation of new systems and computer networks. They oversee all IT projects that may impact business operations, such as the deployment of new software or workstations.

The CIO needs to consider the potential downtime needed to implement new hardware or software. They also assess the cost, the estimated increase in productivity, and the need to train employees on new technologies.

After initiating a plan for implementing new systems, the CIO oversees every step. They need to remain updated on any developments that may impact the timetable or cost of the project.

Work Closely with Other Executives to Establish Objectives

CIOs are part of the C-Suite, which includes the most senior executives within an organization. The CIO works closely with other C-Suite executives to determine the organization’s objectives. They discuss the budget with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and the business’s long-term goals with the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

The CIO is responsible for determining how best to use IT resources to help the organization achieve its goals. However, they also work with the other executives to ensure that IT projects stay true to the organization’s established plans and policies.

Communicate with Vendors and Suppliers

Organizations rely on software and hardware supplied by third-party companies. The CIO handles communications and negotiations with vendors and suppliers. Maintaining a positive relationship with vendors and suppliers ensures that the organization receives the best value.

The CIO also needs to contact vendors and suppliers when exploring new technologies. Adopting the latest technologies helps companies stay ahead of the competition.

Choose IT Projects and Assign Teams

The CIO selects the projects that the IT department works on. They choose projects based on the needs of the company. They also create teams and assign workers to complete the projects.

Delegate Tasks and Monitor Progress

The CIO often needs to delegate tasks and monitor the progress of any tasks that they delegate. They may delegate important tasks to the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or other senior members of the IT department. In a small IT department, the CIO may also act as the Project Manager and delegate tasks for specific projects.

What is the job like


You’ve Reached the Top

Becoming the CIO is often the top career goal for IT professionals, as it is the senior-most IT position. Achieving the role of CIO is considered a major career milestone.

You Get to Make Top-Level Decisions

CIOs influence every project and task completed by the IT department. They are responsible for every major decision, which can make this job highly rewarding.

You Get to Shape Company Culture

CIOs can directly impact the workplace culture of their IT department, allowing them to foster a diverse team and help train the next generation of IT professionals.

You Help Make People’s Jobs Easier

CIOs help select the technologies that employees depend on to carry out their daily job duties. By selecting the right technologies, CIOs get to help make it easier for employees to complete those duties.


The Pressure to Achieve Success

CIOs face pressure to produce positive results and may not hold on to their title if they fail to achieve successful outcomes. The pressure can be stressful.

Always On-Call

CIOs may struggle to maintain a good work/life balance, as they often need to respond to emails outside of work hours.

Where they work

Tech Companies
Oil and Energy Companies
Telecommunications Companies
Automobile Manufacturers

The biggest employers of CIOs are found in the retail industry, as retail companies depend on technology for everything from marketing to shipping and logistics. CIOs also work for large information technology (IT) companies and service providers. CIOs are needed in the oil and energy industries. The telecommunications industry is a major employer of CIOs. CIOs may also work for automobile manufacturers.

How to become one

Step 1: Excel at School to Get Into a Good College

Aspiring CIOs should focus on their academics in high school, as a high GPA can help students get into top colleges. Attending a respected college can provide an advantage when applying for IT jobs.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

CIOs need at least a Bachelor’s Degree to enter the field of IT and begin earning the work experience necessary for this career. Suitable majors include Computer Science, Database Administration, Computer Information Systems, or IT Management.

Step 3: Look for Entry-Level Work

Reaching the position of CIO often requires 10 to 20 years of work experience. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree, aspiring CIOs often enter the workforce with entry-level IT jobs, such as Database Administrator or Network Administrator.

Step 4: Become a Chief Technology Officer

Aspiring CIOs should seek promotions when available until they reach the position of Chief Technology Officer (CTO), which is typically one step below Chief Information Officer.

Step 5: Earn a Master’s Degree

Many employers prefer to hire CIOs who hold Master’s Degrees. The most common major is Business Administration, as it offers the skills and knowledge needed to handle the business side of IT, including hiring and budgeting.

Step 6: Apply for a CIO Position

After gaining the necessary qualifications, begin applying for CIO positions.

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Leader

People with this personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.

You can read more about these career personality types here.

CIOs need to be self-aware, as self-awareness allows leaders to recognize their weaknesses and build a team that supports their needs. CIOs should also be outgoing, personable, or friendly, as these traits tend to result in the communication skills needed for managing others. CIOs are often logical and analytical, as they spend years working in various IT roles that require technical aptitude.

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