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Chief Technology Officer


How to Become a Chief Technology Officer
Job Duties of a Chief Technology Officer
Skills and Qualities of a Chief Technology Officer
Chief Technology Officer Salaries
Influential Professional Chief Technology Officers
Leading Organizations for Chief Technology Officers
Top Cities for Chief Technology Officer Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Chief Technology Officer

The path to CTO isn't straightforward. CTOs are chief executives and their corporate and educational backgrounds vary. On the whole, many CTOs hold bachelors and masters degrees in a field of business, but not all. Many have degrees in some kind of science and/or engineering.

The more important part of a CTO's resume is the experience vs. the education, it seems, although attending a top rated school may open up the choicest opportunities for businesspeople starting out. A strong track record with an emphasis on bringing about solid results, making sound decisions, and effectively managing the technological direction of a company's business or operations would probably best describe the backgrounds of most successful CTOs. In the business world, there is only one CTO per company, so the path to CTO is a highly competitive one, as well.

What does a Chief Technology Officer do?

CTOs are chief executives and they oversee not only research and development, but also the general technological environment of a company. They also carry a strong voice when it comes to making strategic decisions about, for example, a technology company's next area of focus with their products. Not every company as a formal CTO position, and this position is a very new one amongst the ranks of top executives.

The model of technology development and leadership at companies historically was to place a general business manager in charge of the research and development/technology departments. Since that time, and especially as it seems to have boomed in the dot-com boom a decade ago, companies started to see the value of having a technology person in charge of this function. Sometimes companies also have Chief Information Officers or Chief Science Officers. These roles are a little fluid, and whether distinct or combined, the role of these groups of leaders is to feed technological and scientific know-how amongst the ranks of business managers at the C-Level.

The CTO is not autonomous, however, and does report directly to the CEO and also to the board of directors, if there is one. Sometimes the CTO also reports directly to the Chief Information Officer, or sometimes it's the other way around.

The role of CTO is usually only found in technology driven industries, notably in semiconductor and electronics corporations, where the development of new products and technologies is absolutely crucial for the survival, not just the well being, of the company.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Chief Technology Officer?

CTOs must have a strong enough grasp of not only science and technology, but also of the value of such technologies in the marketplace. They need to have strong intuition about what needs to happen in the technological/research and development departments of a company and how to execute that next step for success. This requires a knowledge of industry trends, keeping on top of the cutting edge of technology, and understanding how to invest a company's resources profitably in pursuit of profits. It seems that oftentimes, CTOs are seen as rare birds - technological, detail-oriented people with the insight and temperament that also works with people well and that also understand the big picture and short-term as well as long-term business risks.

How much does a Chief Technology Officer make?

This is a tricky area to provide statistics on. For one reason, compensation for top executives is also not limited to a salary, but applies to bonuses, various types of stock options, and other forms of non-salary compensation. At large companies, it's not unheard of for CTOs to make well over six figures. At small companies, the salary is obviously much lower. It does not always follow that the larger the company, the larger the salary, but it seems to be a trend. It is a consistent trend though that the larger profile the job, the higher the pay tends to be.


Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Simply look at the CTOs of the largest, most prestigious and/or up-and-coming companies of today, and you will find today's leaders in financial leadership.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The American Management Association and the Institute for Certified Professional Managers.

What are the top cities for Chief Technology Officer jobs?

Only certain companies have this position, and they tend to be in the high technology and pharmaceutical/life science industries. As such, there are certain centers in the US that serve as hubs for these industries, notably in northern California (Silicon Valley, San Francisco Bay Area) and states like New Jersey which host thriving life science operations.

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