How to become a technical manager (a step-by-step guide)

Updated 26 April 2023

The role of a technical manager is important to many organisations for ensuring the effective use of technology. The specific duties of technical managers can vary depending on the sector and type of organisation they work for, including its size and structure. Learning about the different routes into technical management can make it easier for you to decide which direction to take in this career path. In this article, we look at the role and its responsibilities and provide a step-by-step guide on how to become a technical manager.

Read more: Management skills: definitions and examples

What is a technical manager?

Technical managers are responsible for overseeing the use of technology within an organisation. In smaller companies, they may provide direct guidance and support to employees in different departments. Technical managers working in medium- to large-size companies usually lead a team of staff who deliver technical solutions. The purpose of this role is to ensure that organisations have the technology they need and are using it efficiently and effectively to meet business needs.

Technical managers can find employment in both the public and private sectors of most industries. In many cases, their work focuses on computer and information technology systems but they can also be responsible for technology specific to a particular industry, such as manufacturing, engineering and healthcare. Regardless of industry, a technical manager's responsibilities typically involve the following:

  • evaluating technological needs

  • developing and implementing technology strategies

  • managing technology resources

  • budgeting

  • designing and implementing technology systems

  • monitoring performance

  • providing training and support

  • ensuring adherence to relevant laws and regulations

Related: How much does an IT manager make? (With salary and skills)

How to become a technical manager?

If you're wondering how to become a technical manager, there are several paths to securing this role. While it's possible to attain this position by gaining substantial relevant experience and skills on the job, the following steps can speed up the process:

1. Undertake and complete further education

You can begin your journey to becoming a technical manager after completing your compulsory education. Post-GCSE qualifications can provide you with some of the foundational skills and knowledge necessary for a technical manager role. The following are some relevant qualifications to consider:

  • A-levels: These are the most common types of post-GCSE qualifications. Relevant subjects include information technology, computer science and business.

  • Business and Technology Education Council qualifications (BTECs): These flexible qualifications enable students to develop knowledge and skills in specific areas. Relevant subject areas include business, computer science and manufacturing technologies.

  • Higher National Certificates (HNCs): HNCs are vocational qualifications that aim to equip students with the skills and knowledge they require for a specific job or trade. Relevant HNCs for aspiring technical managers include those in business, computing and engineering.

  • Higher National Diplomas (HNDs): HNDs are the next level up from HNCs. HNDs can provide students with more in-depth knowledge and skills in many of the same subject areas as HNCs.

  • National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs): NVQs are work-based qualifications that assess an individual's practical skills and competence in a particular job or occupation. These qualifications are available at various levels in many subject areas, including business administration, computing and engineering.

Related: What are the types of technology? (With definition)

2. Obtain an undergraduate degree

An undergraduate degree can give you access to a wider range of managerial positions. Studying for a full-time degree is one option, or you could choose an online or part-time course. There's also the option of doing a degree apprenticeship. The following are some degrees relevant to aspiring technical managers:

  • Bachelor of Science (BSc) degrees: A BSc can provide you with an excellent grounding in the scientific and mathematical principles underlying computer systems. Courses for this degree type typically last four years.

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees: A BA can furnish you with skills and knowledge in business, economics and management. This type of degree is usually a three year course.

  • Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) degrees: A BEng can provide you with a solid foundation in engineering principles and their application to technology. The course of study for this degree tends to last four years.

Read more: What is a degree apprenticeship? (Definition and benefits)

3. Consider becoming a member of a professional body

Becoming a member of a professional body can enhance your prospects when applying for technical manager roles. Joining one of these associations can provide networking opportunities and help you keep up to date with new trends and emerging innovations. A relevant professional body for aspiring technical managers is the British Computer Society, which offers a membership level for technology students.

4. Gain work experience in the field

Many employers may want to see that you have relevant work experience before considering you for a technical manager role. Technical second-line support positions are often open to candidates with little or no experience and can provide you with an excellent opportunity to develop your skills. Alternatively, you could consider doing a graduate training programme. These provide a structured way of gaining experience to prepare for management roles.

Related: What is disruptive technology? (With definition and examples)

5. Gain professional qualifications

Professional qualifications demonstrate that you have the skills and knowledge necessary for a specific role. Various professional qualifications can help you succeed in a technical manager role. These qualifications can enhance your skills and knowledge and improve your career prospects.

Read more: What you need to know about professional qualifications

6. Progress into a role with more responsibility

Once you've gained some experience, start looking to progress into a role with more responsibility. This may involve taking on additional duties, such as managing a team. You may be able to obtain a promotion from your current employer. If this isn't an option, consider applying for roles with other companies that allow you to take on more responsibility.

Related: What is a job promotion? (Plus types and how to get one)

7. Develop leadership skills

It can be easy to forget about leadership skills when dealing with the more technical aspects of this role. Taking deliberate steps to improve your leadership skills can make you more effective in your role and improve your prospects for progression. Some ways of developing leadership skills include reading books on leadership, attending workshops and taking online courses. Here are some key skills to develop:

  • communication

  • time management

  • creativity

  • strategic thinking

  • decision making

  • problem-solving

  • active listening

Read more: What's the difference between a manager and a supervisor?

8. Progress into a lower-level management role

Having gained enough work experience and confidence in your leadership ability, you can look for lower-level management roles. Roles at this level include team leader and supervisory positions. Gaining a lower-level management position can allow you to lead and manage teams and can be a means to more senior managerial roles. To get a management position, you need a well-written CV tailored to the specific managerial role you want to pursue.

Read more: Management skills for CV: soft and hard skills to include

9. Consider postgraduate qualifications

Postgraduate qualifications can improve your prospects for progression into more senior managerial roles and give you a competitive edge over other candidates. A master's in business administration (MBA) is a popular choice for managers in all industries. Alternatively, you could consider doing a postgraduate diploma or certificate that focuses on aspects of technical management. Studying for and obtaining qualifications at this level can furnish you with expert knowledge and skills you can apply in management roles.

Read more: Your guide to postgrad degrees (with career options)

10. Continue to more senior managerial roles

Once you've gained significant work experience, including junior management roles, you may progress into more senior management positions. These roles include director-level positions, such as head of department or head of operations, and usually involve overseeing the work of other managers. Successful senior-level technical managers have a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of their technical field and strong managerial skills, such as strategic planning and decision-making.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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