Computer Systems Analyst Career Guide

A computer systems analyst bridges the gap between business and technology, blending an understanding of business needs with an application of technology to design solutions that support organizational efficiency. This role often attracts those who are quick to adopt new technology and eager to help others understand and apply it.

Job Responsibilities

Computer systems analysts serve in a broad capacity, managing software or hardware installation, troubleshooting systems issues, and consulting with business leaders to assess the role IT will play in an organization. As a result, job responsibilities range across project management, analysis and consultation.

Project management responsibilities:

  • Update systems to achieve technical and business requirements
  • Maintain deadlines, business standards and budgets on installations
  • Support computer system builds with flowcharts and organizational support

Analytic responsibilities:

  • Assess existing technology, tools and systems
  • Understand users’ needs
  • Establish memory, speed and other technical specifications
  • Conduct root cause analysis
  • Assess finals status reports
  • Monitor network activity
  • Understand system performance and efficiency through detailed analysis and testing

Consultative responsibilities:

  • Recommend improvements in technology, systems and specifications
  • Select computer hardware and software
  • Research emerging technologies
  • Train system users and provide instruction manuals
  • Frame recommendations with industry knowledge

Job Growth

As cloud computing, cybersecurity and mobile networks become increasingly prevalent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates demand for computer systems analyst will increase much more than average, with an expected growth of 21% by 2024. Jobs are projected to grow across industries as organizations increasingly rely on information technology (IT). With this rapid technology adoption, the BLS anticipates businesses may seek outside support from outsourcing or technology consulting firms to design systems. 

Work Environment and Salary Potential

In addition to the diverse roles a computer systems analyst may fill, the settings in which they can work vary as well, spanning IT departments, software and hardware companies, and technology consulting firms. Computer systems analysts typically work full-time, often pulling long hours. In 2014, 1 in 5 reported working more than 40 hours per week. The diverse skillset is compensated by pay well above the national average annual wage index across occupations, which was reported at $36,200 in 2015. Computer Systems Analysts can expect to earn nearly double that average, with an average annual wage totaling $91,620, according to the BLS in May 2016.

Because salary potential and employment opportunities may vary depending on factors such as a candidate’s education and experience, as well as regional market conditions, prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research.

Education and Training

In an occupation that requires a diverse background, computer systems analysts most often obtain a bachelor’s degree in computer or information science, such as a B.S. in Computer Information Systems. To bridge the gap between technical and business expertise, some employers prefer candidates with an MBA in Information Technology. Alternatively, highly technical roles may give preference to those with a master’s degree in computer science.

Systems analysts must also possess industry expertise to assess IT systems at their organization effectively, so may need to conduct formal or informal industry training. For example, the BLS predicts one key area of expansion for this career field will come from healthcare fields, as healthcare technology, such as electronic health records, telehealth and e-prescribing, grows. As a result, systems analysts in the sector must have a firm understanding of the healthcare industry.

Is Computer Systems Analyst the Right Career for You?

To successfully translate the technical aspect into a business system that is both functional and valuable, computer systems analysts must have many technical and soft skills. Critical hard skills such as SQL, system analysis, Oracle, JAVA, SAP, C, COBOL, software design, software maintenance and software development are just as important as the soft skills of communication, problem solving, collaboration, research, troubleshooting and the ability to work on a team.

As technology continues to permeate businesses across industries, demand will continue to grow for skilled computer systems analysts. Having the right education, experience and technical and soft skills will help prepare candidates for future success.

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