Career Advancement

The Big Bucks for CIOs Seem To Be in Los Angeles

Looking to boost your salary as a CIO? One study claims the big money comes on the West Coast in Los Angeles. CIOs there report earning 45 percent higher than the national average.
As reports, “CIOs are now averaging an annual salary of $156,266. But that is just an average. Location and level of experience put actual figures all over the map.” explains, “Chief Information Officers enjoy a hefty income, with average pay passing six figures ($148,000) annually in the United States. Including potential for bonuses and profit sharing — peaking near $68,000 and $40,000, respectively — total cash payment to Chief Information Officers can bottom out near $86,000 or peak near $273,000 depending on individual performance.”
Here are the top 9 metropolitan areas for CIO pay in terms of percent pay above the national average of $157,000:

  1. Los Angeles, 45 percent
  2. Miami, 33 percent
  3. San Francisco, 32 percent
  4. Seattle, 28 percent
  5. Philadelphia, 28 percent
  6. Minneapolis, 26 percent
  7. Atlanta, 24 percent
  8. New York, 22 percent
  9. Houston, 22 percent

Of course, there is a problem with this higher pay. It may not be enough. Can you imagine making 45 percent above the national average and falling behind? It’s possible thanks to the cost of living in Los Angeles.
According to, (not to be confused with “In California, cost of living is fairly high for most areas, and Los Angeles is no exception. Overall, the Cost of Living in Los Angeles is 50 percent above the national average. The cost of housing has the greatest impact on the overall cost of living. Housing in Los Angeles is 157 percent higher than the national average, a significant difference compared to most other United States cities.”
So, actually being a CIO in Los Angeles may not be a good thing after all. Your compensation could actually put you 5 percent behind the national average based on cost of living estimates. Of course, there’s that whole sunny weather thing going for you – as long as you don’t mind El Niño, earthquakes and wildfires.
You might actually be better off relocating to Minneapolis, Minnesota (except possibly for the winters). According to a calculator at, the cost of living is 23% lower in Minneapolis. Pretty much every one of the indices point to a lower cost of living, especially when it comes to real estate. It’s 74 percent higher in Los Angeles.
There is one disturbing trend in this salary study by Women made up only 12 percent of the 536 CIOs who were surveyed. No perspective was given on how that number may have grown (or even decreased) compared to previous years. Then again, never mentioned if it had conducted this survey before. There may be no annual perspective available.
Of the CIOs who were interviewed for the salary survey, not one gave less than five out of five stars for job satisfaction. Apparently, at least in this group that was interviewed, there’s no better place to be than the CIO’s office. They all describe themselves as being extremely satisfied.
That satisfaction, in part, could be attributed to the fact that more than half of those surveyed have more than 20 years experience. They have long been at the pinnacle of their earning powers. Late career CIOs, which one could presume are those with more than two decades experience, report earning 18 percent above the national average of $157,000.
One interesting tidbit from the report seems to indicate CIOs aren’t driven by money when it comes to their careers. said, “Although many Chief Information Officers transition into Chief Operating Officer roles, the latter job seems to pay slightly less with an average reported annual income of $136,000.” The site didn’t mention why the COO position would be considered a step up but offers less pay.
However, as reported in Forbes, COO might be a good step to take if you eventually want to become a chief executive officer. “Not long ago, it may have seemed absurd to think of the CIO as an important stop on the way to the top role in the company.  Yet a group of special technology leaders have spent meaningful time as CIO but then continued the ascent beyond the role,” Peter Hugh wrote in his article.

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