So you want to be a CTO? Maybe you’re fresh out-of-college considering the heights of your future career, or maybe you’re a mid-level manager already well on your way. Regardless of your current situation, if your dream role is to become a CTO, then the first thing to know is that YES, it’s an achievable goal. Like all ambitious goals it requires diligence, patience, and no small degree of commitment. But if technical work is what you enjoy then there’s no reason this “work” can’t be enjoyable and fulfilling.
If CTO is what you want, the next question you’re likely to ask is how? As in, how to be CTO? What do you need to know, what credentials do you need, what are the most important skills, and what does the day-to-day life of a Chief Technical Officer look like?
You’re in the right place, and Popl is here to help. Here’s everything you need to know about how to be a CTO.
A Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is a high-level executive who is responsible for the technical strategy and direction of a company. The CTO is typically responsible for the development and implementation of new technologies that will help the company achieve its business goals. This can include everything from developing new products or services to implementing new software systems to streamline business processes. The CTO works closely with other executives and departments within the company to ensure that the company's technical resources are being used effectively and efficiently.
A company’s Chief Technology Officer usually has varied responsibilities including everything from determining the best email systems to complex decisions around manufacturing technology, and more. The core of what a CTO does, then, is choose the right technologies for their company and then optimize those technologies within the organization. As far as day-to-day, this can include the following responsibilities:
Unlike the more “formal” CFO position, for instance, many CTOs take untraditional routes to the executive suite. Especially within tech-startups, CTOs often rise from early developers, into leaders of coding teams to, finally, the position of CTO.
On the other hand, in larger, more established companies the CTO position requires a seasoned, dedicated hand - not necessarily someone who “gets their hands dirty,” but, rather, a professional who understands technical strategy and how to implement systems across large organizations. In either case, here are some actions you can take to help become a CTO:
Here are some important skills for being a CTO:
The short answer is it depends - or, rather, that it varies widely. According to data from Glassdoor, however, the median annual salary for a CTO in the United States is $165,000 per year. In large companies this amount can be dramatically higher and can (and often does) include performance-based compensation or bonuses.
Looking for inspiration? Here are some famous CTOs from the past who can help you understand the position and, perhaps, offer some good advice.
The best thing you can do as an aspiring CTO is to learn by doing. Choose a few technologies - whether these are programming languages, software or manufacturing tools, andmasterthem. Based on this mastery it will become clear to you where and how you can contribute to the organization you’re currently in or how you can start side-hustles of your own. Further development of your career and other resources to help you along can include:
If you’ve read this far, congratulations, you’re on the road to becoming a CTO. Yes, the early steps are that easy. As the saying goes a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Remember, though do not fall into the trap of excessive research or reading ortheory. Learn by doing - get your hands dirty and master the technologies that will best help you NOW. This is the simplest and clearest first step toward becoming a CTO.
by Gerald Lombardo February 06, 2023 5 min read
by Gerald Lombardo February 03, 2023 4 min read
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