Today we’re going to be covering everything you’ve ever wanted to know about management information systems (MIS). Management information systems are the management of processes, people and technology from a business perspective. It focuses on technology that is used to gather data for analysis, improving the quality of service and helping people in higher-up positions make important decisions.
An excellent example of this is what we see on Netflix. Netflix recommends movies for you to watch based on movies that you’ve viewed in the past. On Amazon, they suggest things for you to purchase based on items you’ve purchased in the past too. Also, kind of in a different vein, the fire department in New York City has 300,000 buildings that they inspect annually. So they have to prioritise which of these 300,000 buildings they’re going to examine first, and they do this with a vast database full of all sorts of stats and information about the buildings.
All of these are examples of business analytics, data analytics, data science and big data; these are things that have been in the news a lot recently. They’re all examples of the power of information, what people are doing with it, and its importance today.
I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it, but a quote I like is “Software is eating the world” Marc Andreessen famously wrote this in a ground-breaking article in the Wall Street Journal and of course, software doesn’t really eat anything but the point that he’s getting at is that software is eating away at established business models.
A few examples of that are that Airbnb is now causing Marriott and Hilton to think twice about their business model. Lyft and Uber are also upending the long-established taxi practices in many cities around the world. Netflix, of course, is changing too. They’re showing movies now that are released on Netflix the same day they’re released in the theatres. This is all, of course, powered through software and IT.
So Why Would You Be Interested in MIS?
Of course, technology makes things more efficient, which is essential, but you can also do some life-changing things with technology. For example, a company called Watsi has been around for a few years, and they help fund surgeries for people in developing countries that have no health care and no chance of ever getting any health care.
So, integral to these non-profits is technology and the ability that technology gives us to collaborate and help each other make the world a better place.
There is something for everybody in management information systems, whatever your personality type. For example, if you’re analytical, you might do business analytics like the examples we covered at the beginning of the article. You can also go into consulting. If you’re creative, you might try doing web development and working on the user experience. If you’re an extrovert, you might be an IT manager or a product manager, and if you’re an introvert, you can go into programming or IT security. But, of course, introverts and extroverts are kind of a false dichotomy; they’re suitable in any position. So there are many different positions that you can go into; there’s definitely something for everyone.
Is a Management Information Systems Degree Worth It?
An MIS degree is a perfect combination of the technical and the business side of things. However, it’s important to remember that MIS is different from information technology as there is more of a focus on the processes within a company that make money. For example, an IT engineer might set up networks and make sure they are running smoothly, but they aren’t necessarily going to work on the processes within the company that are designed to make money.
So let’s break down a career in MIS into four main categories, I’ll go over salary, satisfaction, job outlook, and then I’ll also cover some extra factors.
Generally speaking, you’re going to make around £40,000 starting out in your first five years after graduating with a degree. Then ten years and after, you’re going to make about £75,000 a year, and that’s known as mid-career pay. So this is a very flexible degree. There are many different careers that you can go into; I will cover a few of them today. The first one we’re going to talk about is Database Administrator.
The main thing with this role is going to be managing data and information through proper transfer and storage. Usually, this will be critical data that you can directly use either in sales or marketing to make the company more money. Still, sometimes it’s less essential data that the business wants to store anyway.
A Security Analyst role is going to be all about the security of the company’s information systems, and they’re going to investigate things whenever there’s a data breach, for instance.
Computer Systems Analyst
This is a good one, and it’s kind of a retroactive type career where you’re going to be looking back on the history of a company, examining the computer systems. You’ll be figuring out how you can make them either more efficient or better in such a way that they could make the company more money.
This is a career that you can also get into with an information technology degree. In this role, you’re going to be taking care of the day-to-day essential communications and technology needs within a company, so you’d be making sure that an email server is working correctly, for instance.
Computer & Information Systems Manager
This is pretty obvious that this is a career path you’d go for if you graduate with a management information systems degree. Now this one is also going to have the highest annual pay, but there’s going to be a trade-off because you’re also going to have the most responsibility out of any career that I’ve listed here.
Now a lot of the time, you’ll start off working in a different career, and then you’ll work your way up to this position. You’re going to be basically making sure that the company has solutions to their advanced technological problems, and you’re going to be managing other people alongside that too.
So if you’re able to think strategically about technology and really know what you’re doing when it comes to business leadership and management, this might be the ultimate job for you overall.
MIS Job Satisfaction
Next on the list, we’re going to be talking about satisfaction. Now, this is the most subjective section out of all of the different ones we’ve covered. For example, some people might love a desk job, and others might absolutely hate that because that would be their definition of hell.
So this one is totally subjective, and each person will have to research for themselves. But, still, I do think there are a few things here that you can talk about so you can decide whether this is a promising career for you, and there are a few things that are going to lead to higher employee satisfaction as well as meaning.
Now with the jobs related to management information systems according to pay scale, they generally have a meaning score, implying that people find the job meaningful. So this degree leads to employment with an average meaning score of around 45%-55%. That’s about the average for all different types of degrees and careers.
So what are the downsides? Well, you’re going to be working with computers all the time, so you might not be getting very much social interaction, and you might not be able to see how your work is positively impacting the world. However, the average job satisfaction score for these occupations is actually pretty good.
Now there are probably a few different reasons for this, a lot of the careers related to this have excellent pay, there’s also a lot of job flexibility, and there’s a lot of demand. So if the company doesn’t treat you right, you can easily find a job with another company.
Management Information Systems (MIS) Demand
The next one on the list we’re going to be talking about is demand. In some ways, demand might actually be the most important out of any of these on the list. This is because if a career is high in demand, the salary will naturally go up. Companies will be willing to pay more and more for people who have the skills to do that role. Companies will also tend to want to treat you better, give you more opportunities and better benefits because they want to treat you well so that they can keep you.
Of course, an undeniable example of this is many companies in Silicon Valley like Google, Facebook, etc., that treat their employees like royalty. We’re talking free food, free massages, an hour off in the middle of the day to do whatever they want. They have a personal pharmacy and a personal doctor that they can see pretty much any time. They’ll even pay for you to take classes on any subject that you want to as well.
Now all of the careers that I mentioned had at least an average growth rate or a higher than the average growth rate, and they’re all also in the technology industry, which is one of the industries where people tend to get treated well so for instance:
- Database Administrators had a 10% growth rate
- Information Security Analysts had a 31% growth rate
- Computer Systems Analysts had a 7% growth rate
- Network & Computer Systems Administrators had a 4% growth rate
- Computer & Information Systems Managers had a 10% growth rate
Those are just a few of the careers that you can get into with this degree. Many people also end up becoming software developers, or they might get into consulting.
So if, for whatever reason, you do your research, you get into a particular career, and you really just don’t like it, you’re not stuck there. There are many different options out there for you, and flexibility, in my opinion, is hugely underrated; people don’t really talk about it enough.
It’s great that there’s a lot of demand for these careers, but it’s also excellent that they are very flexible, and there’s a lot of different jobs out there that you can go for with this degree. If you want to focus more on the technology side of things, you can go down that route. If you’re going to specialise in the business side of things with a little bit of technology, you can go down that route as well, so this degree is fantastic when it comes to both demand and flexibility.
Next, we’re going to be talking about extra factors, I would say this is the second most subjective section behind job satisfaction, but I think things in this section are still absolutely worth talking about.
There are not enough people out there that have business skills that they can combine with the technical side of things that so many businesses need these days. If you can have both of these skills in one, you’re pretty much never going to be looking for a job; they’re going to be looking for you. You can work in just about any industry and any company, whether that’s the healthcare, finance, beauty, travel or automotive sectors. Perhaps you want to work in the military? Or the government? There’s probably a lot of jobs there as well.
One problem with some of the other technology-related degrees is that sometimes they make you a little bit too specific because your skillset is too niche. However, with a management information systems degree, not only do you have that technical skill, but there’s a focus on business as well as management.
So a lot of the time, as you get older and this is kind of a big deal in the tech industry, there’s this thing called ageism, and it’s pretty controversial, but truthfully as you age, you’re going to have more trouble learning new languages, for instance. As you get older, most people will have less of what’s known as fluid intelligence. Meaning you’re going to have trouble learning new languages and frameworks.
Therefore what most people do as they get older within the technology industry is that they specialise within one type of language, framework or expertise that’s very in demand. Alternatively, they may move into a management role where they manage younger people who have that fluid intelligence. MIS sets you up perfectly for this. This is one of the few downsides of technology degrees, and I think management information systems graduates aren’t nearly as affected by this as some of the other ones.
Another thing is that there are many careers that don’t actually exist right now that will be highly in-demand in maybe 10 or 20 years. So how do you prepare yourself for a job that doesn’t even exist yet? The answer to that is to learn in-demand skills, and MIS will teach you those extremely in-demand technology skills and more evergreen skills like management and business smarts too.
I think this is an ever-changing line of work, and we probably haven’t even scratched the surface on the opportunities that will pop up in the next 10 to 20 years. I don’t think the careers you can get into with a management information systems degree will be easily automated either. So not only are there many safe jobs out there right now but there’s going to be even more in the future. I spend a lot of time looking at what’s known as futurology trends, and in my opinion, management information systems is one of the most future proof degrees.
On top of this, a significant factor that I haven’t even mentioned yet is that once you get a few years of experience in management information systems, there will be many opportunities out there for you to start your own business. You will likely be working within either the technology or finance industry, and there are a ton of options in both. So you could work for a few years building up your skills, get the required knowledge for you to know exactly what you’re doing and become an expert. Then, of course, you’ll get some management and some business-related experience too.
So it’s almost like being an entrepreneur with training wheels. Once an excellent opportunity pops up (and you’ll be positioned perfectly to know what good opportunities look like since you’re working in an industry that has so many), you can either quit your job or start that business on the side. Then whenever it gets big enough, you can leave your job.
It’s no secret that 7 out of the top 10 degrees that create the most millionaires are business-related degrees. Another one on the list is computer science, and that one is moving up the fastest of all of them. Now I think the reason for this is two different things:
- A lot of people who get those degrees end up starting businesses later on in life.
- People who get into business and learn about business from an early age tend to be a little bit better with their finances. They know about things like saving, budgeting, investing etc., and that makes it very easy for them to save and invest at an early age, and you’re almost guaranteed to be comfortable if you invest from an early age.
Most people don’t start saving and investing until they’re in their 30s or 40s, so if you can start doing that whilst you’re young, you’ll be way ahead of the curve, and business degrees tend to just be those types of degrees that end up doing well when it comes to finance. So even if they don’t make as much money as someone like a doctor, for instance, at the end of the day, they end up making more money in the long run just because of the fact that they learn basic personal finance skills.
At least, that’s what I found in my research. I know that’s partially my opinion. But, on the other hand, it could also be because people who are interested in going into business also tend to be better with money, so it could be correlation and not causation at play here.
Management Information Systems (MIS) Career Growth
The next one on the list would be career growth. There are many different positions that you can have with this skillset; you can even move up to an executive level because you have that business background. There are some positions where executives are making millions a year. Generally speaking, the people who make it to those positions will be business degree graduates, and management information systems is kind of like a business degree mixed with a technology degree. So that’s open to you too, you also get to sample everything if you want to and then choose a specialisation later.
You’re also going to be developing your problem-solving skills because you won’t be just learning in school; you’ll also be learning when you get your first job. School can realistically only teach you so much; you can learn anything, but not everything can be taught, and sometimes you just have to simply do something to understand it.
Now problem-solving is not only valuable when it comes to the career that you’re in, but problem-solving is also at the heart of entrepreneurship, so this makes such a good segue into becoming an entrepreneur.
What Are the Negatives of an MIS Career?
Some of the cons on this list are going to be continuous education. This is not one of those careers where you get your degree, and you don’t have to learn anything else after that. Instead, you are constantly going to be taking different certifications and learning new things.
Not only will you be gaining new pieces of knowledge, but technological advancements are happening so fast that it’s pretty much non-stop at this point. Hence, some of the stuff that you knew five years ago might be completely irrelevant now, so you have to learn an entirely new system or framework to keep up.
Another con here, especially if you’re moving into a managerial position, you’re probably going to have long, weird working hours. So if something goes wrong with a server, for instance, in the middle of the night, you’re going to get a call, and you’ll need to be available to solve that problem asap. These careers are so in demand, and there are simply not enough people to fill them; the unfortunate downside, even though there’s a lot of upside to that, is that you will probably be on call, and they’re going to put a lot of responsibility on your shoulders.
From the research I’ve done, there will also be times when you have quite a bit of downtime, so there will likely be times when you don’t have that much work to do. So the company will probably just have you work on some kind of certification or learning a new language or something along those lines.
MIS is an excellent degree, in my opinion. I always suggest making sure that you do your due diligence, of course. Make sure that you look into the careers you might want to go into, and then it’s always a good idea to contact people within those careers, do a ton of research on it, join forums and then figure out what steps it takes to get to that career.
As with many business-related or technology-related careers, getting work experience and intern experience will be crucial too. It also doesn’t hurt to work on projects whilst in school so that you have a portfolio to show your skills.
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