What Does A Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Do?


A Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is responsible for technical product development. They lead and motivate a company’s team in the research and development department and are sometimes responsible for mediating between management and development. A CTO aligns the technological infrastructure with the company’s vision and mission. What does a Chief Technology Officer do?

Job description

A Chief Technology Officer is present in every technology company. Typical industries include automotive, mechanical engineering, aerospace, shipbuilding and energy (wind power).

In technically oriented companies, the CTO heads the research and development department and shapes the future of the product.

Their role is of strategic importance to the company mainly because they set the technological direction and thus set the course for future success.

Role Overview - CTO
Role Overview – CTO

The CTO position falls within the C-suite or C-level functions, and its exact functions are among the most complicated to define.

The exact responsibilities will depend a lot on the type of company in which they work, including: 

  • Business type
  • Structure of the technical team (permanent workers, freelancers, outsourcing, etc.)
  • Agility in the company, industry, startup or traditional family business, etc.

What is a fractional CTO?

With the new reality in which we live, a new title has emerged called fractional CTO. These are professionals who offer their services as CTOs as independent professionals.

As a fractional CTO, your services will be useful for those companies that need, for example:

  • A specific technological strategy for a product
  • Accompaniment to execute strategy, market analysis, IT team management

In the United States, where there are a large number of digital organisations, there is already a large demand for fractional CTOs. They come to work when only part of the CTO’s responsibilities are missing.

In addition, because a fractional CTOs role is only part-time, they are a much cheaper alternative than full-time CTOs.

Responsibilities of a Chief Technology Officer

The typical tasks of a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) include market analysis, identification of the best technology solutions, direction of the company’s technical strategy and evaluation of new technologies. 

Because these offers are responsible for establishing a technical strategy aligned with the general business strategy, they are therefore also in charge of planning and monitoring the stages of technical development.

Responsibilities of a CTO
Responsibilities of a CTO

They are responsible for managing relationships with technology suppliers and are the  buffers between the CEO and the IT team.

As a technical expert, a technology officer also assumes responsibilities within talent management or HR and is involved in conducting staff appraisals.

Responsibilities of a Chief Technology Officer:

  • Conduct market analysis and identification of innovative technologies that can provide competitive advantage
  • In charge of helping the company use technology efficiently and profitably
  • Create a technological strategy of the company
  • Evaluate new and emerging technologies
  • Supervise the IT infrastructure to ensure functionality
  • Manage IT budget
  • Manage IT department and the technical team
  • Review IT practices in accordance with external and internal standards
  • Manage relations with suppliers (vendor management)

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What skills does a Chief Technology Officer have?

A Chief Technology Officer should have sound technical knowledge and a strong affinity for IT.  They must also have strong knowledge of the following topics:

  • DevOps
  • Software
  • Agile development and;
  • Computer security

Additionally, a CTO also needs an analytical, strategic and business-savvy mind. It is essential that they think in economic terms and manage budgets well.

Skills Of A CTO
Skills Of A CTO

In terms of soft skills, good communication skills will be needed to be able to manage the team, speak with management and/or suppliers. They must also possess strong leadership and time-management skills and must have the ability to work well under pressure. Open-mindedness and intercultural competence are also important for a CTO to have.

Skills of a CTO:

  • Strong knowledge of programming and IT
  • Knowledge of protocols and computer standards
  • Experience with DevOps, Agile and computer security
  • Knowledge of business, budgets and business models
  • Experience in product management and project management
  • Sense of economy and business management
  • Experience in team management and talent identification
  • Conceptual and analytical capabilities
  • Strong leadership skills
  • Good time management skills
  • Ability to work well under pressure

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How do you become a CTO?

One of the prerequisites to working as a Chief Technology Officer is an IT education. As a rule, a degree in Computer Engineering, IT, Computing, or a related field is required. In addition, employers usually expect several years of relevant professional experience. Therefore, applicants should have references as developers, project managers or team leaders in the field of research and development.

Because a technology office has to be aware of the latest developments in technology, they must continue training even after obtaining a CTO position. After all, your job as a CTO is to keep the company up to date with the latest technology.

There are currently countless courses and online training available to continue training in the sector. Options for a few are shown below:

How much does a CTO make?

The salary of a chief technological officer depends on factors such as industry, region, size of the employer, individual qualifications and experience, hierarchical level, scope of personnel responsibility and negotiating skills.

Generally though, a CTO who’s just starting out can expect a salary of around $178,900 per annual year whereas a CTO with years of experience and skills can expect a salary of around $342,450. The average salary for a chief technology officer is $258,670.

In Germany, the salary range for a technology officer is €60,000-€174,000 whereas in the UK, the range is £46,000-£193,000.

Salary of a CTO:

US $178,900 – $258,670
Germany €60,000 – €174,000
UK £46,000 – £193,000

How much do freelance Chief Technology Officers make? 

The average freelance hourly rate of a Chief Technology Officer is $97. Extrapolated to an 8-hour day, this puts the daily rate at around $776 (freelancermap price index – August 2022).

Average Hourly Rate Of Freelance CTOs
Average Hourly Rate Of Freelance CTOs
Natalia Campana

Natalia is part of the international team at freelancermap. She loves the digital world, social media and meeting different cultures. Before she moved to Germany and joined the freelancermap team she worked in the US, UK and her home country Spain. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at www.freelancermap.com

By Natalia Campana

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