Skills and salaries for today’s top IT executive roles

Information technology has spread across the business, and it only stands to grow larger as companies adopt more technology in service of business goals. Here are the best locations, average salaries and popular skills for the top IT executive positions.

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Skills and salaries for today’s top IT executive roles

There are countless roles that fall under the umbrella of IT executive management and it seems each year there’s a new role to fit a new need. With the rise of data, analytics and software services, businesses are stocking up on IT executives to help manage daily technology operations.

Read on to discover the average salary, highest paying cities and the most popular skills for the top IT executive jobs currently on the market, according to data from PayScale.

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Chief information officer (CIO)

A chief information officer (CIO) oversees enterprise technology, with a focus on maintaining, building, implementing and upgrading a business’s IT systems and practices.

  • National average salary: $160,944
  • Reported salary range: $92,677 to $276,396
  • Cities with pay above the national average: Chicago (43%); Atlanta (32%); New York (26%); Houston (25%); San Francisco (25%); Dallas (24%); Washington (24%); Miami (23%); Denver (15%)
  • Popular skills: Strategy, leadership, software development management, strategic planning, budget management
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Chief technology officer (CTO)

Chief technology officers (CTOs) are tasked with heading the technology department and leading efforts to maintain, improve and expand on enterprise technology.

  • National average salary: $166,000
  • Reported salary range: $86,199 - $230,922
  • Cities with pay over national average: Washington (28%); Boston (18%); San Francisco (14%); Denver (11%); Atlanta (9%)
  • Popular skills: Leadership, software architecture, Java, product development, IT management, IT security and infrastructure
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Chief data officer (CDO)

There is a growing need for chief data officers (CDOs) now that nearly every business collects, stores and manages some amount of client, customer or internal data. While the data needs for each business or industry will vary, most businesses are turning to data executives to oversee the process.

For more on the role and responsibilities of a chief data officer, see “What is a chief data officer? A leader who creates value from all things data.”

  • National average salary: $205,000
  • Reported salary range: $144,408 to $302,012
  • Cities with pay over national average: N/A
  • Popular skills: Big data analytics, data management
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Chief security officer (CSO)

The chief security officer (CSO) acts as a liaison between IT and other executives, with a specific focus on security initiatives. The job of a CSO is to keep tabs on current or potential threats whether internal or external and to communicate security needs to other executives.

  • National average salary: $144,000
  • Reported salary range: $66,384 to $255,140
  • Cities with pay over national average: N/A
  • Popular skills: IT security and infrastructure, security risk management, security policies and procedures
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Chief information security officer (CISO)

Not to be confused with a CSO, the chief information security officer (CISO) of a company is tasked with building, structuring and implementing security programs and initiatives around business objectives. With the rise in cyberattacks and data breaches, some businesses find they need more than one executive to stay on top of security efforts.

  • National average salary: $177,833
  • Reported salary range: $108,888 to $276,917
  • Cities with pay over national average: San Francisco (26%); Seattle (19%); New York (16%); Boston (13%); Chicago (12%); Dallas (10%); Atlanta (7%)
  • Popular skills: Security risk management, IT security and infrastructure, security policies and procedures
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Chief digital officer (CDO)

Chief digital officer (CDO) is a relatively new IT job title, emerging as businesses increasingly rely on data and technology, in particular for digital transformation. As a result, there aren’t as many reported salaries on PayScale, but data from those who have shared suggests it’s a lucrative emerging role in technology.

For more on the role and responsibilities of chief digital officers, see “What is a chief digital officer? A digital strategist and evangelist in chief.”

  • National average salary: $200,000
  • Reported salary range: $80,850 to $493,163
  • Cities with pay over national average: N/A
  • Popular skills: Big data analytics, data management
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Vice president of information technology

The vice president of IT is responsible for planning and executing the strategic direction of information technology in a corporate setting. That includes budgeting, developing policies, standardizing IT practices and building objectives for the company’s technological future.

  • National average salary: $160,005
  • Reported salary range: $98,624 to $196,440
  • Cities with pay over national average: Washington (26%); San Francisco (21%); Atlanta (19%); Boston (17%); Denver (11%); Minneapolis (8%); Chicago (7%); Los Angeles (5%); New York (1%)
  • Popular skills: Program management, leadership, software architecture, software development, strategic planning, operations management
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Vice president of analytics

Businesses collect more data than ever, but it’s useless without someone to make sense of client, customer and user data. The vice president of analytics helps develop and lead a corporate strategy around business data analysis.

  • National average salary: $166,954
  • Reported salary range: $111,913 to $230,009
  • Cities with pay over national average: New York (7%) and Chicago (5%)
  • Popular skills: Big data analytics, business intelligence, SAS, web analytics, data modeling, SQL
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Vice president of technology

The vice president of technology focuses solely on the hardware and software used throughout the company, keeping everything up to standards with compliance and security. The role also requires monitoring and updating outdated processes and introducing new technology policies.

  • National average salary: $164,614
  • Reported salary range: $108,000 to $224,794
  • Cities with pay over national average: Los Angeles (23%) and San Francisco (12%)
  • Popular skills: Product development, agile, strategic project management, software development management, strategic planning, software architecture, leadership, people management
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Vice president of information systems (IS)

The vice president of information systems (IS) is responsible for overseeing IT management, working with IT to align business goals and deploy enterprise IS solutions.

  • National average salary: $164,000
  • Reported salary range: $97,332 to $200,932
  • Cities with pay over national average: N/A
  • Popular skills: Leadership, strategic planning, IT security and infrastructure
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Vice president of software development

Responsible for overseeing software development for internal or external clients, the vice president of software development heads the design, implementation, management and improvement of software products.

  • National average salary: $174,000
  • Reported salary range: $130,420 to $228,721
  • Cities with pay over national average: N/A
  • Popular skills: People management, software development management, software architecture
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Vice president of engineering

Coordinating and leading teams on technology projects falls under the scope of the vice president of engineering. They manage budgets, approve purchases, research future technology and determine the necessary resources for any IT project.

  • National average salary: $179,981
  • Reported salary range: $114,927 to $263,216
  • Cities with pay over national average: San Jose (37%); Denver (15%); New York (13%); San Francisco (12%); Detroit (10%); Boston (8%); Atlanta (7%); Chicago (2%)
  • Popular skills: UNIX, leadership, product development, budget management, business development, program management, software architecture, software development
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Vice president of software engineering

The vice president of software engineering has similar duties as the vice president of engineering, but with a focus on computer software. Depending on business goals, some companies may choose to have one or the other, rather than both.

  • National average salary: $182,581
  • Reported salary range: $122,444 to $258,723
  • Cities with pay over national average: San Jose (26%); Seattle (7%); San Francisco (6%)
  • Popular skills: Cloud computing, people management, Java, leadership, agile, project management, software development management
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Vice president of product development

Companies that develop products for outside clients and customers will typically employ a vice president of product development to help oversee the process. These executives lead projects from start to finish, ensuring that they align with corporate standards and user needs.

  • National average salary: $163,899
  • Reported salary range: $99,090 to $258,623
  • Cities with pay over national average: Atlanta (26%); Seattle (25%); Boston (25%); San Francisco (8%); New York (2%)
  • Popular skills: Product management, business development, strategic project management, software development