CIO salaries: 8 things to know

 Hospital and health system CIOs earn an average base salary of $208,417, according to a 2013 survey from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives.

Here are eight things to know about CIOs' salaries.

  1. The size of the organization significantly affects salary, according to the CHIME survey. CIOs at multi-hospital systems reported an average base salary of $254,054 in the CHIME survey, compared with the $125,573 base salary earned by CIOs at critical access hospitals.
  1. In the survey, titles carried with them an even larger variation in salary; survey respondents with titles including "senior vice president" or "executive vice president" reported an average salary of $310,326. Those with titles like director of information systems or director of IT earned an average of $128,193.
  1. In the survey, higher education was correlated with higher salaries. Salaries for CIOs with PhDs and master's degrees averaged $230,714 and $213,705, respectively. PhDs are relatively rare among CIOs, however, says Tim Tolan, a senior partner at executive search firm Stanford Rose — about 5 percent of CIOs have them.
  1. The most valuable degree a CIO can have is a medical degree. According to the CHIME survey, CIOs with MDs made the most: $306,000. "CIOs who have true clinical experience are rare," says Rich Miller, senior vice president of talent strategies and IT at healthcare executive search firm B. E. Smith. He sees a clinical education as part of the "killer combo" for CIOs, along with a business and technical background.
  1. CIOs' salaries have been increasing over the past year, albeit gradually, says Mr. Miller. These small increases are similar to the small increases seen by other healthcare executives, he says.
  1. There have been a growing number of CIO transitions recently as baby boomers begin to retire, says Mr. Miller. This may push CIO salaries up as healthcare organizations look for replacements in what is both a relatively new and fast-changing field.
  1. Healthcare CIOs can often switch industries more easily than other hospital and health system C-suiters, says Mr. Miller, meaning tenure may be slightly more dependent on compensation as a healthcare CIO usually has more job options.
  1. However, for many healthcare CIOs, it's about more than money. "It's about their supervisor, are they doing meaningful work," said Russ Branzell, president and CEO of CHIME. "At some point some might want to move to a more complex [healthcare] environment with additional compensation or benefits, but the vast majority would not leave [their current position] for more money," he said.

More articles on CIOs:

25 things to know about hospitals, health systems' investments in IT
Why Apple, Epic and IBM will take over healthcare
How to juggle competing priorities: 3 CIOs share best practices


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