Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
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8/1/2008
04:29 PM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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Who Has The Better Gig: CIO Or IT Architect?

John Soat has blogged a few times here about whether the next CIO should come from inside or outside the company . But what if no insider wants the job? Seriously. It seems like the hottest role these days is IT architect -- nice paycheck, the thrill of strategy-level tech work, and not nearly so many arrows in the back.

John Soat has blogged a few times here about whether the next CIO should come from inside or outside the company . But what if no insider wants the job? Seriously. It seems like the hottest role these days is IT architect -- nice paycheck, the thrill of strategy-level tech work, and not nearly so many arrows in the back.IT architect is among the best-paying jobs in IT. Our Salary Survey finds IT architects earn a median base salary of $105,000, and system architects earn $110,000. (A PDF of our Salary Survey coverage is here, with registration.) It's a job that requires tech depth and business understanding to design systems to solve a company's problems, so there's plenty of challenge and, increasingly, the respect and compensation such a skill mix deserves.

There are even attempts to offer certifications as an IT architect. The biggest knock on the job these days is it's too hot, so it's getting diluted amid "title inflation," one HR consultant says in our Salary Survey coverage, with people dubbed architect who aren't really designing systems.

Then there's the CIO. It's the top of the IT ladder (and pay scale), but to hear a lot of IT pros talk, it sounds like one of the more thankless jobs in business. While the IT architect revels in technology to solve business problems, the CIO gets the joy of budgets and personnel and the like as well. Yet many CIOs I've spoken with can't imagine a better job, given its confluence of technology, business strategy, and the ability to lead process change across the company. The best CIO jobs are plugged into every corner of the company's operations.

So, who's the lucky one -- CIO or IT architect? Have another candidate for the best job in IT -- or maybe just a case of title fatigue?

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