How Do I Become a Chief Information Officer?

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  • Written By: Jeremy Laukkonen
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2019
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There are no set educational requirements or career paths to become a chief information officer (CIO), though you will need to have certain traits and skills if that is your professional goal. Chief information officers are not necessarily technology experts, but they do need to have a good sense of how to improve business operations using technology. Many chief information officers come from backgrounds in information technology (IT), so you may want to begin with a solid education, obtain a relevant degree, and then enter that field. Before you get a job as a chief information officer, you will need to exhibit leadership qualities, excellent communication skills, and a strong sense of ethics.

Not every chief information officer starts out as a technology expert, but an education with a strong background in science can be a good place to start. You may want to obtain a four year degree in information technology, but more advanced degrees can also be beneficial. If necessary, you may enter the workforce and seek an advanced degree as you climb the corporate ladder. You will also need to possess knowledge in other subjects, such as business operations and ethics, so you should try to work these studies into your education.


Since there is no definitive career path required to become a chief information officer, your job performance tends to be more important than where you start off in a company. The IT department can be a good choice, especially if you have a relevant degree. You will want to progress through the management ranks, and it is important to demonstrate leadership qualities and excellent job performance at each step. Many people become a chief information officer after holding IT managerial positions at some point in their career, though others exhibit the necessary qualities while working in various other departments.

One way to prove that you should become a chief information officer is to demonstrate qualities that the position requires. Chief information officers are typically responsible for steering the entire business from a technological standpoint, but every project manager and department head can take advantage of their position to improve efficiency or productivity in some small way. If you can use your position in the IT department to effectively use technology to increase the efficiency or profitability of your company, you may convey to your superiors or other potential employers that you have what it takes to be a chief information officer. This is why it can be more important to understand how to best apply technology to improve business operations than to simply be an expert in technology.


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