Aspiring CTO? Here’s the education that can get you there

Some of the CTOs at tech giants have a postgraduate degree in computer science or a related field.

By U2B Staff 

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Technology is advancing at breakneck speed, making IT-related positions in the workplace indispensable. New technologies can cripple businesses that fail to adapt or narrow the digital divide, accentuating the need for the role of a chief technology officer (CTO).

Lockdowns around the world have crippled businesses that don’t have an online presence. Ride-hailing apps and online rental site Airbnb have disrupted the income of taxi drivers and the hotel industry with their business model, respectively. The same can happen to businesses that fail to keep up with technological advances. 


A CTO is a professional who is responsible for a company’s technological needs. Research by McKinsey shows that companies that keep abreast of new technologies and build them into their strategies and operating models have greater success than those that do not.

Despite that, their research shows many companies are not ready for major technological shifts underway, nor are they prepared to spot new ones as they emerge.

“We believe that a major reason for this lack of preparation is that many companies today have no one on the executive team who owns the responsibility for navigating these shifts,” they said.

“Every company needs such an individual — which is why we believe that every company needs a chief technology officer.”

CTOs help ensure a plan and implement a company’s technical infrastructure to ensure it supports the company’s business goals. They should have an understanding of technology trends to help with corporate strategy. The role can come with a lucrative salary for those with the right education, experiences and skills.

What education would you need to become a CTO?

It varies.

Mike Schroepfer — Facebook’s CTO — graduated from Stanford with a BS in computer science and MS in computer science. Amazon VP and CTO Werner Vogels graduated with a PhD in computer science from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. 

Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott holds an MS in computer science from Wake Forest University, a BS in computer science from Lynchburg College and has completed most of his PhD in computer science at the University of Virginia.

Cisco Webex CTO Anurag Dhingra graduated with a BS in electronics and communications engineering from the National Institute of Technology Kurukshetra. Starbucks CTO and executive VP Gerri Martin-Flickinger has a BS in computer science from Washington State University. 

It’s clear that the education backgrounds of CTO’s vary, but having a background in computer science, computer engineering, or a related field at the undergraduate level is useful for those hoping to reach the ascent as CTO. Further education can also improve your earnings.


According to Glassdoor, the average CTO salary is 91,008 pounds in London, UK. puts the average CTO salary in the US as 249,855 US dollars as of March 29, 2021. They note, however, that the range typically falls between US$209,527 and US$292,247. 

“Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession,” it said. 

For those who want to further their education, a master’s in cybersecurity or computer science are some areas worth upskilling in. 

Aspiring leaders can consider complementing their current credentials with courses that bolster their business knowledge or leadership skills, such as executive education programmes in leadership, management, or even in areas such as AI and digital strategy, to better prepare them with skills that will help them excel in a senior management role. 

Whichever path you choose, lifelong learning is the key to staying up-to-date in the latest technological developments.