Information Systems Manager
An information systems manager (ISM) is a professional whose skills are needed to handle the large amounts of information generated by and analyzed in the modern genetics laboratory. A successful information systems manager needs to be experienced with the technical aspects of computer hardware and networking systems. The daily work may involve managing a team of information technology workers, so leadership and management skills are usually a necessary qualification. Like most jobs in the scientific and technical areas, this one involves interacting regularly with staff, other units, upper management, and scientists, so that proficiency in oral and written communication is essential. Although an information systems manager is not usually required to have a deep understanding of the genetic sciences, the ISM must be well acquainted with the information needs of the organization and must possess advanced technical knowledge.
The training needed for a career as an information systems manager begins with formal education and training in computer programming, database fundamentals, systems analysis and design, data communication, and networking, all at the undergraduate level. A major, or at least a concentration, in information systems management at either the bachelor's or master's degree level will also provide a solid foundation for a position as an ISM. Many information systems managers begin their career as systems analysts, programmers, or computer engineers, or were in other computer-related positions. An in-depth understanding of computer technology and applications will make the candidate attractive for many other careers as well, since the projected outlook for all computer-related professions is continued growth through 2008.
The duties of an ISM can be quite diverse. They include setting up networks, including the installation of lines, hardware, and software; administering servers; programming; and setting up intra-and internets. ISMs may even be called upon to do some Web page design. An information systems manager is not an entry-level position, as the ISM has considerable administrative duties. The job requires hiring, training, assigning, and supervising computer specialists so that each employee does his or her particular duty toward meeting the organization's goals. In addition, ISMs need strong budgeting skills and the ability to communicate with contractors, suppliers, and financial groups, for they are involved in making decisions concerning equipment purchases.
The majority of ISMs do most of their work from an office, but may be called upon to go to the client's site to set up networks, hardware, or software. This may include doing their work in research laboratories, where they may be exposed to hazards arising from the investigations being conducted there. ISMs often work under stringent time and budgetary contraints. It is not unusual for ISMs to work more than forty hours per week.
The job can be rewarding when the organization makes progress in meeting their goals. There is usually plenty of room for personal growth, as many ISMs are advanced to higher managerial positions. ISMs typically enjoy a good salary and a substantial benefits package. Salaries usually range from $45,000 to $120,000 per year, with most earning between $50,000 and $95,000. The amount earned depends on education, the amount of experience, and whether the job is in the public, academic, or private sector. Workers in state government usually earn the least, with a median annual income of $63,500, while workers in industrial settings earn the most, with a median annual income of $87,500.
Judith E. Stenger
Ahituv, Niv, and Seev Neumann. Principles of Information Systems for Management. Dubuque, IA: Wm. C. Brown Company, 1983.
Alter, Steven. Information Systems: A Management Perspective, 2nd ed. Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, 1996.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2000-2001 edition.U.S. Department of Labor. Washington, DC, 2000. <http://stats.bls.gov/ocohome.htm>.
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