Ambitious IT managers and IT directors dream of moving into CIO positions. For them, the vaunted CIO title--and the multimillion dollar management responsibility that comes with it--is their ultimate career goal.

Lindsey Snapp is one such IT manager who wants to take his career to the next level. Snapp had been working as an IT manager for a division of Thyssenkrupp, a global manufacturing company, when he left in August to become a contractor. The contract position he accepted gives him the flexibility he needs to finish his MBA and pays him more money than Thyssenkrupp. Snapp says he lacked opportunity for career growth at Thyssenkrupp because he reported to a young, ensconced director of finance. Snapp hopes earning his MBA will help unlock the doors to IT director, CIO- and CTO-level positions.

The problem facing Snapp, and IT managers like him, in today's competitive job market is that organizations hiring CIOs want "proven" candidates who currently possess that title, according to executive recruiters. Employers don't want to take chances on mid-level IT managers or IT directors.

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