The Fullest Guide on How to Hire a CTO

03 Sep 2020
8 min
author avatar
Katherine O.

Chief Technology Officer or CTO helps startups and established companies to build a new product from scratch or improve existing tech solutions, meet deadlines, follow the budget, and manage the development team.

To fulfill these goals, CTO should have in-depth tech expertise, strong communication and management skills along with the ability to work under pressure.

How to hire a CTO for your tech startup? There are several options — an in-house CTO, a freelancer, and an outsourcing company. However, you also need to know when to hire CTO.

Here’s what you’ll learn in this guide:

Table of contents

Quick Overview: CTO and Their Duties

Hiring a startup CTO, you need to understand what they’re responsible for. CTO’s duties depend on the company’s goals and requirements.

It’s common to distinguish two types of CTO — operational lead and technical lead.

CTOs of operational management type don’t have a considerable coding background. They have a bunch of non-technical skills like project management, finance, or mentoring.

Hire a CTO: Operational lead

CTO Operational Lead and their duties


I’ve already touched upon CTO’s roles and responsibilities. In this guide, you can also find hard and soft skills each CTO should have.

As for the technical leadership type, those specialists deal with software development and take the lead of a development team.

Hire a CTO Technical Lead

CTO Technical Lead and their duties

So, CTO’s working tasks vary on the role they play. Below you can find the table with CTO’s responsibilities depending on the persona type.

CTO duties depending on the role
Role of a CTO Task Explanation

Operational lead

Team management

  • track team performance
  • mentor software developers

Company strategy establishment

  • improve efficiency
  • optimize the company's processes

Company's representative

  • attend conferences
  • find developers

Trends analysis

  • monitor trends
  • decide to integrate trends

Technical lead

MVP development

  • create a website or app
  • check the quality


  • interview candidates to check their technical knowledge


  • help junior developers
  • share knowledge and experience

Identifying tech stack

  • pick technologies for mobile or web development

When to Hire a CTO?

There are various factors that influence whether or not it’s time for your company to hire a CTO. The most widespread option is hiring a Chief Technology Officer if you need a high-level technical specialist to manage the software development process.

When should a company hire a CTO?

  • You don’t have tech expertise. To be on the same page with the development team, you need to have technical knowledge. In other cases, you’ll face difficulties during the product development.
  • You want to go through digital transformation. If you have a large business where outdated technology or practices affect productivity, it’s high time to update. However, a large-scale technology update can be a struggle. A CTO specialist can make this transition more comfortable and keep your company up-to-date. You need to follow the latest trends to offer end-users the best experience, be it your team members or customers. So, CTO expertise is required here.
  • You need a leader for your development team. CTO can help you manage and mentor your development team. Having experience in software development, CTO can share the experience with other specialists. Also, a CTO specialist can guide your business in the technology field.
  • You need to push your company forward. You already have a working product and get a stable revenue, but you want to move on and boost your business. CTO can help you go through tech transformation smoothly, without losing money. If the business boost implies more users, CTO can help adjust the product's architecture to take that load. If it's about redesigning an old app, CTO can help your team make the transition as smooth for users as possible (no log out, data losses, other issues).

How to Hire a CTO If You Don’t Have Technical Background: Tips to Follow

Hiring a CTO for your startup can be a struggle if you don’t have technical expertise. Below, I’ve listed several tips that can help you choose the right candidate.

  • Consider the work experience. Previous experience will let you understand how successful the CTO has been at last positions. Get in touch with previous employers to get some feedback.
  • Look through candidates’ social media. Hiring a CTO, you need to study their LinkedIn and Facebook accounts. It’s common to use these social networks to get working contacts. CTOs should have an extensive communication network to cooperate with other developers and managers.
  • Check communication skills. Let's face it — CTO communicates a lot with developers, c-level managers, clients, and others. Communication skills are crucial. CTOs explain tasks, goals, and set deadlines. Good communication skills improve team effectiveness.
How to hire a CTO

Tips to hire a CTO

Of course, if you want the CTO to control the development process and review the product’s quality, you need to check candidates’ technical skills and knowledge. The best way to check the tech knowledge is to analyze the code. However, if you don’t have the required expertise, you can hire a CTO from an outsourcing company or a tech consultant. In this case, you won’t need to worry about the technical part. An outsourcing company takes care of the CTO’s qualification.

Looking for a CTO?
We have qualified and experienced specialists!

Where Is the Best Place to Hire a CTO: Hiring Options

So, you’ve decided to hire a CTO and want to cooperate with a skilled and talented specialist for a reasonable amount of money. Let’s discuss your options.

The modern IT market offers you three most widespread options to hire a CTO — cooperate with a freelancer, hire an in-house specialist, or find a reliable specialist from an outsourcing company.

Freelance CTO for Hire

Freelance type of work is quite popular these days. However, it’s not the best option for a CTO specialist. CTO requires long-term cooperation, but freelancers can break up the project without finishing it.

Also, unless you’re a tech guru, it's quite complicated to check the candidates’ knowledge and skills.


  • There are a lot of freelancers, so you can find an appropriate specialist.
  • Freelancers have lower rates in comparison to other options to hire a CTO.
  • You don’t pay for freelancers’ sick days, vacations, and taxes.


  • Freelancers aren’t perfect for long-term cooperation.
  • Nobody can guarantee that a freelance CTO finishes the project.
  • Communication difficulties are possible because of a time zone difference and a language barrier.
  • No opportunity to check whether your CTO is only involved in your project.

Where to look for:

  • Upwork
  • Fiverr
  • Freelancer

Hire a CTO In-House

Hiring an in-house CTO can be a good option if you’ve already released the product to the market and it brings you some revenue or investment opportunities.

Having a CTO in-house, you can communicate and discuss all the issues without delays. However, this hiring option tends to be time-consuming and pretty expensive.


  • In-house CTO is completely involved in the project and interested in the final result.
  • CTO can help you close complicated deals.


  • A lot of additional expenses like purchasing hardware and software, paying taxes and office rent.
  • Hiring an experienced CTO is usually time-consuming.
  • In-house CTO gets a bigger salary than freelancers or specialists from outsourcing companies.

Where to look for:

  • Indeed
  • Glassdoor
  • LinkedIn
  • Dice

Hire a CTO From an Outsourcing Company

Outsourcing is quite popular due to affordable prices and access to a big talent pool.

A bunch of software development companies offer IT consultancy, and you can hire a CTO from them to fulfill your tasks.

Cooperating with an outsourcing company, you can reduce the time required for interviewing candidates and end up paying less.


Why outsource development to Ukraine? Discover seven primary reasons.


  • You can hire a CTO specialist with deep expertise in the required technologies.
  • CTOs from outsourcing companies have different business experiences.


  • You may face security difficulties. To avoid them, you should sign an NDA.
  • If you’re located in different time zones, you’ll need to set a schedule for calls.

Where to look for:

  • Clutch
  • GoodFirms
  • IT Firms
Where to hire a CTO

CTO hiring options

As you can see, there are enough hiring options for a CTO. To get a high dedication level and required experience, it’s better to hire an in-house CTO or cooperate with a specialist from an outsourcing company. Freelance isn’t the best option since you need long-term cooperation.

Let’s Talk

CTO is a nice to have specialist for tech companies as they’re responsible for solving technical challenges. Also, Chief Technology Officer analyzes the company’s business goals and finds tech ways to achieve them.

So, Chief Technology Officer improves the tech part of your product, solving existing problems.

How to hire a CTO?

Hiring this specialist can be challenging and time-consuming. To save time and money, you can cooperate with a reliable outsourcing company like Cleveroad. We offer an IT consultation with our senior specialists. Also, you can hire a CTO from us to fulfill your tasks without distracting your team.

By the way, the average hourly rate of a CTO in Eastern Europe is $50. The average salary of the CTO in the USA reaches $120,000 per year. If you need to recruit an experienced CTO in short terms, outsourcing is the perfect option for saving time and money.

Need a CTO for your company?
We’ll help you deal with tech issues. Contact our managers to get your free tech consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Rate this article!
An image
An image
An image
An image
An image
(18 ratings, average: 4.7 out of 5)
Leave a comment
An image
Your message is checked by the moderator and
will add to the site ASAP
Latest articles
Report a typo
Back to top