He graduated from the North Ossetian State University which was named in honour of K.L. Khetagurov in 1978 and five years later got a degree from Moscow Institute of National Economy.
Between those years he was an intern researcher in the same place and from 1983 to 1987 was a lecturer on labour economics and the same year became a subdean of the Economics Faculty at the same university. From 1987 to 1989 he was Economic Affairs" General Director and from 1989 to 1990 worked at Control-and-Auditing Directorate as the Chief Controller. Tsalikov worked as Minister of Finance of North Ossetia for four years starting from 1990 and from 1994 till 2000 was the Chief of the Main Financial and Economic Administration under Boris Yeltsin.
From 2000 to 2005 he worked for Ministry of Emergency Situations.
He was promoted to the State Secretary by Vladimir Putin, a position which he held from 2005 to 2007. In 2010, he became a head of Ministry of Emergency Situations and then was invited as a guest on Special Correspondent on Russia-1.
From May to November 15, 2012 he was the Vice Governor of the Moscow Region and starting from that date on, under Presidential Decree, he was promoted to Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation. He is scheduled to run for governor on September 8, 2013 in Moscow.