What is a typical IT manager salary?

The IT manager role is consistently ranked as one of the top professions in the United States and around the world. The job is both challenging and fulfilling. You are tasked with leading a team of IT specialists while also deeply understanding the complexity of enterprise technology. And at the same time, you have the opportunity to directly impact the success of your organization.

So how much do IT managers earn? This range is broad — anywhere from $58,000 to $115,000, according to sites like Glassdoor and Payscale — because the duties of an IT manager vary depending on company size and scale. Additional factors that influence an IT manager's salary include experience, location, skills and education, and industry.

Note: The base salaries in each of the categories below are for general IT manager jobs based on information from Glassdoor in November 2020

Experience

Across all fields, seniority impacts salary more than any other factor — IT is no exception. Because an IT manager is typically a more experienced role (with five to 10 years of experience), starting IT manager salaries are often higher than the manager level in other job functions. Here is the average salary for IT management roles across different specialties and by seniority:

  • IT manager: $85,000
    IT managers build IT plans, monitor progress against departmental goals, establish team workflows, evaluate technology investments, and facilitate collaboration across the organization. IT managers are ultimately responsible for contributing to broader organizational goals through the use of technology. In some organizations, an IT manager might oversee a bigger group of infrastructure, network, and security admins; support specialists; and engineers. The IT manager typically reports to an IT director, chief information officer (CIO), or chief operations officer (COO).

  • IT director: $129,000
    The role of IT director is similar to IT manager — but likely even more strategic. Smaller organizations may not have both roles. In larger organizations where both roles exist, the IT director will be more involved in setting goals, defining workflows, and making decisions about what technology to invest in. An IT director typically reports to the CIO or COO.

  • CIO: $160,000
    CIOs represent the IT team at the executive level. They lead the IT strategy — serving as a link between IT managers and other C-suite members. They ensure that the IT roadmap is aligned with where the company is headed as a whole. CIOs are not involved in day-to-day tactical work. Instead, they oversee and influence the teams that carry out these efforts.

IT managers are typically generalists. In some organizations, the responsibilities of an IT manager are broken out into several specialized roles such as cybersecurity manager or infrastructure manager. The average salaries across these roles are as follows:

  • Cybersecurity manager: $87,000
    Cybersecurity managers are responsible for keeping an organization's information and networks secure. They create security protocols, regulate access to information, and train staff on how to safely use technology. Cybersecurity managers also monitor for security risks and are the first to respond should a data breach occur.

  • Operations manager: $83,000
    Operations managers ensure that the company can efficiently complete its core operations — whether that is to build products or deliver services. The duties of an operations manager vary from company to company, but typically are far-reaching. They might be involved in hiring, training, or decisions around processes and tools that will help the company operate at its best.

  • Engineering manager: $117,000
    Engineering managers oversee the development of a company's products — both external and internal. They set goals and create plans for development work and manage the individual members of the engineering team. While engineering managers are concerned with company IT plans and technology investments, they are typically closer to customer needs than IT generalists.

  • Infrastructure manager: $85,000
    Infrastructure managers plan, implement, and maintain the core technology systems that power an organization. They determine when IT infrastructure might need to be retired and identify replacements. These folks have in-depth technical knowledge as well as a solid understanding of how the organization as a whole functions. They translate departmental needs into solutions that help increase efficiency and improve outputs.

Location

Location influences the average IT manager's salary in two ways. First, companies in cities with a higher cost of living tend to offer higher salaries. In the United States, the cost of living in coastal states is typically higher than the national average. For example, California and New York rank second and third respectively in terms of cost of living in the United States. Southern and midwest states experience lower costs of living — Illinois ranks 29th while Texas ranks 32nd.

Second, in cities with larger business districts (e.g., San Francisco) demand for experienced IT managers outpaces supply. Companies located in these cities tend to offer higher salaries in order to attract top talent. Here are the average IT manager salaries in major US cities:

  • U.S. West Coast

    • Los Angeles: $93,000

    • San Francisco: $107,000

    • Seattle: $93,000

  • U.S. Midwest/Rocky Mountains

    • Chicago: $88,000

    • Denver: $85,000

    • Minneapolis: $87,000

  • U.S. East Coast

    • Boston: $92,000

    • New York: $93,000

  • U.S. South

    • Atlanta: $86,000

    • Dallas: $84,000

A similar pattern exists in Europe. Salaries are higher in cities where the cost of living and demand for technology expertise is highest. The countries with the highest cost of living in Europe include Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Denmark. Cities such as Munich and Berlin are growing technology hubs with a greater need for IT talent. Here are the average IT salaries in major European cities:

  • Barcelona: €48,000

  • Berlin: €81,000

  • Brussels: €87,000

  • London: £60,000

  • Madrid: €54,000

  • Munich: €89,000

  • Paris: €67,000

  • Rome: €60,000

  • Zurich: CHF147K

The average salaries for IT managers in Australia and New Zealand are even higher — largely due to a higher cost of living in these countries. The average cost of living in Australia is 12 percent higher than the cost of living in the US. And in New Zealand, the cost of living is 8 percent higher than that of the US. Here are the average IT salaries in major cities in Australia and New Zealand:

  • Auckland: NZ$87K

  • Brisbane: A$133K

  • Melbourne: A$132K

  • Sydney: A$135K

  • Wellington: NZ$95K

Skills and education

Education and training can also impact an IT manager's salary. Most IT managers have a formal education — a bachelor's degree in information or computer science. But those with a graduate degree, such as an MBA, typically earn above-average salaries. Specific training in system analysis, systems design, programming, or IT project management can also influence your earning potential.

IT managers are highly skilled, so it is typically a more senior role. Usually, you enter the workforce in an entry-level IT position (e.g. support technician or systems analyst) and work your way up. Naturally, as you gain more experience and hone your skills your salary increases. But, there are certification programs you can take to speed up that process:

  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

  • Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT)

  • Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)

  • PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

Industry

Lastly, industry plays a role in how much you earn. Industries that are growing and advancing quickly tend to have a greater need for people with enterprise technology experience and will pay for it. Companies in biotech and pharmaceuticals and energy and utilities offer the highest salaries on average:

  • Aerospace and defense: $90,000

  • Banking and financial services: $90,000

  • Biotech and pharmaceuticals: $96,000

  • Computer software: $90,000

  • Consulting: $85,000

  • Energy and utilities: $100,000

  • Insurance: $87,000

  • Internet and tech: $89,000

  • Manufacturing: $89,000

  • Retail: $89,000

If you have advanced technical abilities along with other business skills, such as project management and strategic thinking, IT manager might be a good position for you. The role is well-paid and in high demand. Companies of all sizes and across all industries rely on technology to operate and remain competitive. And they need folks with a unique combination of technical skills and business acumen.

The job is also rewarding. You have the opportunity to serve as a strategic leader — ultimately helping your company achieve its goals through the use of technology.

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