Defining CTO: What Is a CTO, What's a CTO Do & More | CTO Recruiters | Technology Executive Search Firm

      Defining a CTO

      What Is a CTO?

      In an organization, a CTO is an executive-level position that has the responsibility of understanding and implementing the scientific and technological needs of the company in order to meet the business goals. For the technology-related matters, this is the company’s highest level of the executive position as a CTO holds the leadership role for both the engineering and technology department to contribute to the decision-making process in a company’s development and research.

      A CTO needs to have extensive background and understanding of the existing technology trends and upcoming technologies for creating a comprehensive strategy and vision for the organization and the stakeholders.

      CTOs can overlap with other executive-level technology positions in an organization, like a chief operating officer (COO) and chief information officer (CIO). In the start, the CIO used to take over the CTO responsibilities, but with the advancements in the information technology sector in the market, it has been a necessity to create a totally separate position for overseeing these responsibilities in the modern business.

      So, the CTO is now the highest-ranking technology executive position in an organization that reports directly to the CEO, the head of the company.

      What Does CTO Stand for?

      CTO stands for Chief Technology Officer. The CTO is the highest technology-related position in an organization.

      What Does a CTO Do?

      A CTO has said this possibility to manage the physical technology infrastructure in an organization, including the integration, system management, deployment, and the development of the technical operations staff. A CTO manages the relationships with the vendors to make sure that the service expectations are thoroughly delivered.

      A CTO has far more responsibilities more than an IT manager, as the chief technology officer is responsible for:

      • Managing the company’s current technology solutions
      • Serving as an external face of the company
      • Being aware of new and innovative technologies
      • Considering the direction of the company, how technology is key for making business decisions, and the overall goals of the company
      • Working with other executives for budgeting to implement new solutions and solve the problems
      • Keeping an eye on the competitors
      • Making sure customer expectations are exceeded
      • Developing and overseeing technology for its clients

      It has to keep in mind that not every CTO is to manage the IT side of the business as some of the CTOs manage the helpdesk professionals and make decisions about the technology tools a company can use. Many companies go for CIOs to oversee these things. A CIO’s responsibilities are focused on IT and makes sure that no issue comes up in the way of the company’s goals.

      A CTO focuses on the strategy and product of an organization, whereas CIO has more focus on the day-to-day tasks. It means that the CTO does not focus on the daily tech issues but on the bigger picture instead.

      How to Become a CTO: 3 Key Steps

      Being a CTO is not an overnight thing. For becoming a CTO in an organization, you need to start from small and take steps in moving forward, making your way up in the market for a manager-level position. A CTO should have a grip on the evolving technology trends for making the business a success. Companies that hire a CTO want a bachelor’s degree and extensive experience in IT management.

      Typical steps of becoming a CTO are to:

      1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
      2. Obtain On-the-Job Experience
      3. Earn a Master’s Degree

      The following elaborates on each step more.

      How to Become a CTO Step #1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

      Every CTO starts their career by earning a bachelor’s degree in an IT-relevant field. There are many evolving courses like cybersecurity that are perfect for a CTO to increase their knowledge and skills. A bachelor’s degree acts as a solid foundation for IT professionals and those working towards building a CTO career.

      Generally, the best CTO candidates will have strong knowledge of:

      • Digital forensics
      • Database design
      • Data integrity
      • Programming
      • Cyber laws

      How to Become a CTO Step #2: Obtain On-the-Job Experience

      With new problems leading to new roles, CTO level opportunity has become more complicated. Organizations that hire a CTO depend on their knowledge and experience for understanding the complexities. A CTO should make sure that the right people are working for addressing the problems.

      Typically, a CTO should have experience in a few IT areas like:

      • Big Data Engineering
      • Network Architecture
      • Security Engineering
      • Information Security Management
      • Web Development
      • Cloud Computing

      In the above areas, the roles need only a few years of experience, but for a manager-level job, experience between seven to ten years is a must. Once being on the manager level in an organization, additional five to seven years of work experience can build up the business and leadership skills in a person to pursue a C-level job.

      So, basically, a professional needs to work for at least 15 years in the IT field to seek employment as a CTO.

      How to Become a CTO Step #3: Get a Master’s Degree

      After getting experience in technology, an IT professional with the goal of becoming a CTO should pursue a higher degree. Getting a master’s degree is important to land a high-paying job as well. A CTO also needs to get the technological skills and a business sense for getting a leadership position. A master’s degree program focuses more towards the advanced-level technical area of managing the business, which can help a student to develop expertise in management-related areas, like finance and accounting, and align those skills with their IT knowledge.

      How Much Does a CTO Earn?

      After putting effort and time into all the years, getting experience in becoming a CTO will finally pay off.

      The average CTO salary $150k to $170k per year. Keep in mind that is just average CTO base salary. With stock options and bonuses, CTO compensation can be much higher. In fact, over the past 10 years, the average CTO salary has been increasing as technology continues to advance.

      Many factors can affect the CTO salary and compensation package, including (but not limited to):

      • Individual experience and qualifications
      • Geographic location of the position
      • Company size play
      • Industry

      CTOs with extensive experience, skills, knowledge, and exposure can end up earning millions, as they give their best to set up the company and work hard to maximize revenue and profits.

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