Becoming a project manager can be a very exciting and lucrative career for any prospective student interested in pursuing opportunities within the information technology industry. Even in a struggling economy when jobs seem scarce; major, multi-national corporations, consulting firms, hospitals and other major government agencies are on the hunt for talented information technology managers who are equipped with the right knowledge and skills. If you have ever considered this as a potential career to pursue, make no mistake about it, you will be in for a ride. Salaries are tremendously high in this field, but this career also comes with long and stressful hours.

As an IT project manager, you will be at the forefront of leading a team of experts to help solve an organization’s IT problems. You will manage a diverse team of systems analysts, programmers, developers, designers and other individuals tasked with the responsibilities of creating robust information systems for a variety of settings. Whether it’s creating a new interactive billing system for a major utility company or helping a company roll out a dynamic customer relationship management tool to thousands of sales representatives; this job will come with major managerial responsibilities. . Here is a comprehensive overview of the IT project manager role, managerial responsibilities and whether or not a degree in management information systems will help prepare you for this role.

What exactly is MIS?

Management Information Systems (MIS) is the study of developing and implementing robust information systems and processes within a business or organizational setting to help improve overall efficiency. MIS professionals work to help businesses and organizations of all sizes become more efficient through maximizing profitability and benefit of services, products, equipment, human resources and overall productive. If your passion is fusing your interests in business management with information technology, a degree in MIS is suitable for you.

Businesses, organizations and government agencies utilize a wide variety of information systems to collect, process and store data pertinent to their operation. Whether it’s creating a large database of donors for an international nonprofit organization, a billing system for a hospital, or a records database for a city revenue collection agency; management information science is the art of creating and disseminating information systems to help organizations effectively manage their data.

If you decide to pursue management information systems as a major, you will definitely learn how to design and implement business information systems in very creative and innovative ways using the latest software and technologies.
Not only do MIS professionals crate these systems, but they also manage teams of programmers, developers, analysts and other related IT professionals in creating these business information systems. MIS professionals who become project managers are not only skilled IT experts but they are also skilled managers who know how to maximize professional talent to create and deliver these systems in a timely fashion.

Education Requirements

Pursuing a degree in management information systems is the best degree suited for those who will like to become a project manager and manage a team of information technology professionals. Many colleges and universities offer both traditional, brick-and-mortar degree as well as online degree options for students. Management information systems degrees are offered both at the bachelor’s and master’s degree level.

If you are currently enrolled in an undergraduate program, you will be expected to spend the first two years of your degree taking general education coursework such as classes in english composition, social sciences, history, foreign languages, biology, physical sciences, speech and other general requirements as prescribed by your college or university. Master’s degree programs are usually offered by business colleges and students most likely will not have to take these general education courses. However, if you pursuing a management information systems concentration though a MBA program, you will be expected to take courses in marketing, finance, economics, management and professional development.

Coursework of a typical MIS degree

Once you are into your major coursework, you will take some very intense and rigorous classes within the management information systems degree track. These courses are designed to help prepare you to not only be a highly qualified and knowledgeable manager but also a professional informational technology expert. You will take courses in programming languages such as C, C++, PHP and Java. You will also take courses such as business intelligence, web application systems development, accounting information systems, network management, information systems for global business, systems analysis and design and much more! Coursework will obviously depend on the college and university that you currently or decide to attend.

Capstone Experience and Internship

Before graduating, most colleges and universities will require students to complete a capstone project as well and internship. A capstone project is a class that applies all of the knowledge you’ve accumulated through your program in a real-world, business setting. Many business programs also require students to complete an internship at a major corporation, consulting firm or another setting where they can apply their skill set and hopefully pick up on new skills and knowledge. The capstone experience and internship requirement will obviously vary from school to school.

Become a Project Manager: Lead IT teams

If you decide that you will like to pursue a career as a project manager and manage teams of information technology experts, the first thing to do would be to actually work under a project manager as an assistant. This will give you the opportunity to learn directly from an experienced project manager who has at least ten years of experience managing complex, IT teams filled with diverse professionals. Project managers have to lead these teams to meet strict deadlines.

You will get the opportunity to see how these project managers delegate responsibility to certain individuals, how they problem solve and even occasionally step in to do work themselves when required. While you are shadowing an experienced project manager, it would also be a great time to go back to school and either pursue a master’s degree or a MBA degree with a concentration in management information systems. You should also look into possibly obtaining a certificate in project management.

Career Prospects and Salary Expectations

Career opportunities in management information systems are plentiful. This is one job that is definitely recession-proof. According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, IT project managers made a median salary of over $110,000 in 2010. The hourly median wage was over $55. The demand for qualified and highly experienced IT project managers with a background in management information systems is expected to grow by 18% over the next decade. Career opportunities and salaries will obviously vary based on geographic location, size of employer, setting and and years of experience.

If managing people and information technology are two of your strongest career passions, look for a career as a project manager and definitely study management information systems while enrolled in an accredited college or university program. Career opportunities are abundant. Once you get your degree, you should the right position in no time to prepare you for a career in this field!