As with all other Internet-related professions, the need for managers of Internet and Intranet technologies (IT) has boomed as companies of all kinds scramble to exploit these new and rapidly evolving information systems. Even though this is a new field generally associated with young guns who have essentially “grown up” with the technology, the stereotype of Web managers having mod haircuts and body piercings is largely apocryphal. The average IT manager is a forty-year-old male, with females largely underrepresented in this burgeoning field. One thirty-four year-old Intranet administrator for a small bank in Maine ousted a twenty-year-old from his IT job. As the older man put it, the young gun knew the technology but didn’t have much discipline or corporate experience. He is now in charge of six LANs and a fifty-six-kilobit-per-second WAN connection to six branch offices. Because of his success, he received a 17 percent raise.
Even though Intranets and Websites are new phenomena, experienced network and information systems (IS) managers are their main overseers, and your average IT manager has been in his current position for five years already. An IT manager will spend his time multi-tasking in several areas, including managing programmers and designers who implement the systems that make IT technologies a working reality, prioritizing strategies aimed at accomplishing specific corporate goals, distributing often tight budgets to accomplish these goals, writing proposals concerning the best use of a company’s IT resources, and overseeing development and implementation of strategic plans. In addition to all of the technical and managerial responsibilities, IT managers also spend much of their time in meetings, catering to the needs of their employees, or, if they work as independent consultants, to their clients. Delivering what the brass wants can be quite stressful. “Expectations have mushroomed in the last year,” says a senior IT architect at Lockheed Martin. “As they discover what it [IT technologies] can do, they want it done yesterday.”
Although IT managers earn roughly the same salaries as network/IS managers, they report more satisfaction with their work, even if the hours tend to be long. It is relevant to note, though, that according to a survey conducted by Network Computing Magazine, salary was the biggest cause of dissatisfaction (20 percent) among Web/Intranet managers, with the number of work hours the second biggest gripe (13.5 percent). To be a successful IT manager you should have good communications skills, strong technical skills, and an eagerness to meet the challenge of working with new technologies, since the technology changes so quickly in this field that what you know today may be outdated tomorrow. For those who can keep up with the pace of this profession, six-figure salaries are in the future.
There hasn’t been time for industries to establish standard requirements concerning the hiring of Web/Intranet managers, but simply being well acquainted with the technology is not enough. Experience tends to get these jobs, whether they have risen through the IT ranks from Webmasters or have had a few years of previous experience as network/IS technicians and managers. It is unlikely that one can begin a career in IT as an IT manager. Web/Intranet managers are well educated, having at least a bachelor’s degree (38.8 percent have a B.S., while 14.43 percent have a B.A.; 20.5 percent have an M.S. in science) and there is a close correlation between the level of education and the level of income. Experienced IT managers with bachelor’s degrees earn around $56,000. A master’s degree commands an earning power in the mid-to-high sixties. A doctorate degree, which less than 4 percent of the people in this field have, can bring in an annual income of more than $75,000.
Because of the strong technical and communication skills needed to be a Web/Intranet manager, many have come into the field from network and IS jobs. It is possible for an IT manager to jump back into the network/IS field with little problem and command a comparable salary. Those who feel the need for more creative input can use their IT knowledge to be Web designers and Webmasters. Although the former doesn’t have as much earning power as an IT manager, the latter can, depending on the industry. IT managers who enjoy the more technical and computer literate side of the job can become computer consultants or IT security consultants-a field keeping pace with the rapid growth of commerce on the Web.