Becoming a Data Center Manager: Salary & Job Description

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A data center manager's median annual salary is around $128,000, but is it worth the lengthy education and experience requirements? Read about real job duties and see the truth about career prospects to decide if becoming a data center manager is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Data Center Manager

In a data center management position, you will take charge of planning and directing technological activities for a data center. Before deciding that becoming a data center manager is right for you, however, it's important to review all the pros and cons of this career path.

Pros of a Data Center Manager Career
Can lead to more advanced executive positions as a chief information officer or chief technology officer*
High salary (computer and information systems managers earned a median wage of $128,000 as of May 2014)*
Education and experience transferable to many other careers*
The health care industry's need for greater records management should benefit data center managers*

Cons of a Data Center Manager Career
Requires experience and training in both business and computer technology*
Large companies usually require you to earn a master's degree*
Many managers report working 50 hours or more per week*
The career often requires an average of 5-10 years of previous management experience*
Many information technology jobs are being outsourced to countries that pay lower wages, which could affect job growth for the field*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Info

Job Description and Duties

As a data center manager, your job duties include planning and directing technological activities, as well as managing the employees involved in those operations for your employer's data center. You must report directly to the company's executives and effectively assess your department's productivity, their operations, problems, needs or any other questions that the executives may have.

Salary and Job Growth

The salary for a data center manager varies depending on the size of the company and industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for computer and information system managers in May 2014 was around $136,000 per year, which was higher than the average salary of other management occupations (www.bls.gov). The highest annual salaries were in the securities and commodities exchanges industry. Managers in this sector made a mean salary of around $201,000 per year.

Job growth for this field was expected to be average, with 15% growth from 2012-2022, according to the BLS. According to the most recent data available, the health care industry was expected to fuel the need for data center managers due to a demand for technological advances that can streamline information for sharing between different professionals. As a result, more data centers have been created to hold and manage the mass amounts of medical information.

Career Requirements

The education requirements are extensive for a career as a data center manager. Although small companies may hire data center managers with experience and a bachelor's degree in information technology, most employers require candidates to have a Master of Business Administration (MBA), along with an undergraduate degree in information technology or a similar field. You might even be able to find an MBA program with a concentration in information systems management. Classes for this program include information systems strategies, database management, Web development, supply chain management and IT project management.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Most job postings for information technology and data center managers show that employers want a combination of education and experience in very specific industries. Below are some job postings from March 2012.

  • A major retailer in California is looking for a data center manager to oversee their cloud data centers and coordinate a team of engineers and technicians to handle all aspects of building and growing the centers. The candidate should have great leadership, communication, organization and resource planning skills. Preferred requirements are a master's degree and a minimum of five years of experience in IT management.
  • A Texas company has an opening for a data center facilities manager to oversee the management of several data centers. The employer requires applicants to hold ten or more years of experience in managing large data centers and supervising a large technical staff, as well as experience in medium/high voltage power generation and distribution.
  • A data center manager position is available at a logistics company in Tennessee. Applicants must have at least ten years of experience in information technology and a bachelor's degree. Responsibilities include managing all information technology departments and their employees.

Skills Employers Want

Data center managers should have a wide range of skills related to information technology and business management. Specifically, many employers look for candidates with:

  • Knowledge of the latest information technology techniques and advancements
  • Expert communication skills, including negotiation skills for developing contracts with vendors and contract employees
  • Good leadership skills
  • Analytical skills for solving complex problems through both technology and leadership methods
  • Organizational skills to manage multiple departments

How Can I Stand Out?

Since the job only has average job growth, standing out from the rest of the candidates can help you rise in this career field. You might want to keep track of new technology, research and management techniques by subscribing to trade journals and other job-related publications.

Get Certified

Certification is one way to get ahead as a data center manager and possibly network with colleagues and employers. The Data Management International offers a Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP) designation, in conjunction with the Institute for Certification of Computer Professionals. You must first meet specific education and experience requirements in order to take the certification exam. The exam covers topics like business intelligence, data warehousing and IT security.

Alternative Career Options

Because a data center management career requires a lot of experience and education, you may want consider an alternative job that you can achieve faster. If the education requirements don't bother you, but the amount of overtime work does, you may also consider an alternate career that allows for similar responsibilities and pay without the added time.

Database Administrator

A database administrator is responsible for updating, organizing, managing and maintaining a company's computer database. The database may store customer records, product information or financial data, and the database administrator is responsible for keeping that information secure.

The career requires a 4-year degree and like a data center manager position, it's not generally an entry-level career, but rather one that you must work up to with experience. Large companies require an MBA with a concentration in information systems. Certification is also available for database administrators, which can give you an edge in employment opportunities. According to the BLS, the annual median salary for database administrators as of May 2011 was about $75,000. Job growth for administrators was predicted to grow more than double that of other occupations, at 31% from 2010-2020.

Network and Computer Systems Administrator

This alternative career still involves work with networking, computers and management, but only requires a bachelor's degree. Some employers may require a postsecondary certificate in a related computer field and some experience. The administrator is responsible for all hardware and software installation, removal and maintenance on the network and computer system.

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for these professionals was around $71,000 as of May 2011. Job growth was expected to be higher than average, increasing by 28% from 2010-2020.

Computer Systems Analyst

A computer systems analyst also works with computer systems, but does not have any management duties. Analysts are consultants, and their research of the IT system helps managers and leaders make important decisions regarding production and other costs. The career requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree, but some employers may require an MBA or related business degree.

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for a computer systems analyst was around $79,000 as of May 2011, and the job outlook was good, with a 22% expected growth in employment from 2010-2020.

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The Art Institutes

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  • Visual & Game Programming (BA)

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Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

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South University

  • Information Systems (MS)
  • Information Technology (BS)

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Argosy University

  • Information Technology (BS)
  • Information Technology (AS)

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Kaplan University

  • MSM in Information Technology
  • BSIT - Information Management
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Full Sail University

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Grand Canyon University

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  • BS in Business Admin. - Business Intelligence

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Keiser University

  • Bachelor of Science - Cyber Forensics/Information Security
  • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology

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