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A Day in the Life of a Internet/Intranet Technologies Manager

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.

Paying Your Dues

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.

Present and Future

Arguably the most exciting thing about this field is its newness. Diversity also makes it attractive; you can be an IT manager in almost any field, from banking to entertainment (in fact, those in the field of entertainment reported the highest average income). Ten years ago, nobody would have any idea what you were talking about if you said you were an Internet/Intranet technologies manager. The history of this profession is still just taking shape. While current IT managers need to be familiar with Unix and C++, database technologies, and the latest software, the technical applications in this field seem to change every week. While the current trend is for IT managers to see increasing salaries and demonstrate sharper technical know-how, this could all change over the next few years. In short, no one knows where this niche profession is headed, but the current wave is big enough that those catching a ride on it will see opportunities and earnings continue to increase.

Quality of Life

PRESENT AND FUTURE

Even at this early point in their career, IT managers are earning nice wages (anywhere from $40,000 to $55,000). Hours can be long and stress can be high due to deadlines, budgets, and high expectations from clients and corporate boards. Simply keeping up with the latest technological advances can be a challenge. Competition is at a high level within the industry, especially early on, when IT managers are trying to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

FIVE YEARS OUT

In this occupation five years is a long time. Many IT managers have the opportunity to change companies at this point. Most IT professionals jump ship to snag promotions or get more interesting work, but salary is often the real motivator-nearly 15 percent go to another company to earn a higher salary. Many IT managers go it alone, starting their own consulting businesses. Some companies hire outside freelance help when setting up their Intranet and Internet architectures so opportunities abound for the independent consultant. Because the industry is so young, however, it is very volatile, and a full 10 percent of IT managers cite the failure of enterprise or a company shutdown as a reason for leaving their jobs.

TEN YEARS OUT

This profession hasn’t been around long enough to accurately determine the ten-year projection. However, from here the future certainly looks big and bright.