Chief Information Officer (CIO) is the executive head of the technology department of a company. A CIO overlooks all technological strategies and initiatives. They predict future technological developments and help companies come up with competitive market strategies. However, CIO’s job does not stop there. It is crucial that they also have several business skills and communication abilities.

Before we move forward, it is essential to clear out the difference between a CIO and a CTO. A chief technological officer (CTO) is responsible for technical strategies to help grow business externally. On the other hand, the CIO’s work is within the company’s IT department to formulate technology-related plans and ideas that will help the company grow internally.

The question that arises now is how does one become a chief information officer? There are a particular set of skills and training you will need to acquire for that. They start from basics like leadership to complex skills like risk management and corporate governance. Below we have listed specific essential steps you need to take to take the role of a CIO.

1. Education:

Education is a must, irrespective of which field you are applying to; a certain degree is necessary for you to become a CIO. Still, companies prefer those who have a minimum bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or software engineering.

Naturally, graduate degree holders get more preference. Graduate-level programs usually include a masters of information management or data sciences. Business programs like risk management and managerial economics also help build your skills as a CIO.

2. Experience:

CIO is a competitive post. There will always be people competing with or against you. One way to stay ahead of your competitors is to seize any internship or job opportunity you come across. You will gain experience from this and learn a lot about the desired field and develop the necessary skills.

Also, always keep a lookout for any courses/classes that can help you gain more knowledge about the tech industry. If not at your school/college, then check online. The virtual school business is booming and is in demand. Many institutes are offering online information technology courses that you can take at your convenience.

3. Focus on your area of expertise:

The information industry is extensive. Hence, you need to identify your niche, a particular area you want to specialize in; people often face difficulty figuring out their calling. One way to do so is to keep a check on which topics you do well in school. It will not make you ready for your area of expertise, but it will help you lower your options and choose.

Working or interning at different companies’ positions can earn you a better experience and help you figure out what direction you want to take for your future. Once you have successfully identified your specialty area, take some additional courses, and gain some certifications related to that field. It will help you to build an excellent portfolio and resume.

4. Work on your IT governance skills:

Most CIOs do not realize the full potential of risk management and information technology governance. It would help if you had a clear idea of what these two are and how they work.

IT governance is a subset of corporate governance, while risk management is a subset of IT governance. The three are quite advanced topics to understand. While many professionals get familiar with them later in their careers, you can always get a head start by taking online courses and learning about them.

5. Make sure you have gained the necessary skills:

Some necessary skills which a CIO requires include effective communication and learning ability. CIOs need to have excellent leadership skills and be brilliant strategic planners. Their management and interpersonal skills should also be top-notch.

Other more technical skills might include having a thorough knowledge of agile project management and business intelligence. CIO should also be familiar with budgeting and its various techniques. They should also have stellar recruiting abilities. Lastly, the most apparent factor is that they should be well-versed with software like SharePoint, VMware, SAP, and many others.

CIO’s Average Salary:

Being a CIO is a lucrative job. They make quite impressive yearly figures. The greater the experience and knowledge a CIO has, the higher his pay is likely to be. According to many reports and statistics, the information industry will continuously grow in the upcoming years.

The world is becoming more and more technology-dependent. Newer tech innovations and software developments will increase the demand for computers and IT staff at companies sooner than we can imagine. This rise in demand for labor is likely to come with a massive pay increase.


As is evident from the above points, education and learning play critical roles in helping you become a CIO. Without the necessary skills and experience, you’ll be at sixes and sevens. However, no matter how attractive the pay looks or how simple the role sounds, it has its shortcomings. Technology is not everyone’s forte. Only opt for an information field related career if you are a hundred percent sure that you can keep up with the rapid advancements and replacements in technology.

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