Computer Systems Analyst

Career Information

Computer Systems Analyst
A computer systems analyst studies the feasibility of purchasing a new system. Erik Isakson / Blend Images / Getty Images

A computer systems analyst helps a company or other organization use computer technology effectively and efficiently. He or she incorporates new technology into a company's current system after doing a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether doing so is financially sound and will serve the entity well.

There are three types of computer systems analysts. Systems designers or architects find technical solutions that match a company's or organization's long term goals.

Software quality assurance (QA) analysts test and diagnose problems in computer systems. Programmer analysts develop and write code for software that meets their employers' or clients' needs.

Quick Facts

  • In 2015, computer systems analysts earned a median annual salary of $85,800.
  • Almost 568,000 people worked in this occupation in 2014.
  • They work directly for organizations in a variety of industries or as consultants who are on the payrolls of information technology (IT) firms.
  • Most computer systems analysts work full-time and many work more than 40 hours a week.
  • Those who work as consultants often have to travel to their clients' offices.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies it as a "Bright Outlook" occupation because of its excellent job outlook. This government agency expects it to grow much more quickly than the average for all occupations through 2024.

A Day in the Life of a Computer Systems Analyst

These are some typical job duties taken from online ads for computer systems analyst positions found on Indeed.com:

  • "Research, evaluate and recommend new technologies for service delivery and improvement"
  • "Identify and recommend new design tools for use in communications projects"
  • "Design, develop, program, install, implement, conduct research for, and maintain internal data processing computer systems and utilities for customers on a contract basis"
  • "Coordinate with user personnel and management staff to provide requirements definition, clarification, prioritization, and design alternatives"
  • "Coordinate and link the computer systems within an organization to increase compatibility and so information can be shared"
  • "Consult with management to ensure agreement on system principles"
  • "Assist in training less experienced staff"
  • "Publish weekly reports that identify progress made towards implementing monitoring by application and by environment"

How To Become a Computer Systems Analyst 

You will most likely need a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field to work in this occupation, but some employers will hire applicants who don't have a college degree. You may also need a background in the industry in which you want to work, for example insurance or health. Because this occupation integrates business and technology, some employers prefer to hire job candidates who have a master's degree in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in computer systems. You will have to earn a master's degree in computer science if you want a more technical job. Regardless of where you work, you must keep up with trends in the tech industry.

What Soft Skills Do You Need?

A computer systems analyst must have certain soft skills, or personal qualities, in addition to their technical skills:

  • Problem Solving and Critical Thinking: These abilities will let you readily identify problems and then evaluate alternative solutions to determine which one is best. 
  • Communication Skills: Excellent listening skills will allow you understand your clients' or colleagues' needs. Strong verbal communication skills will permit you to convey information effectively.
  • Reading Comprehension: You will have to read manuals and technical reports to keep up with advances and implement new technology that meets your employer or clients needs.
  • Writing: Expect to produce written reports of your recommendations.
  • Analytical Skills: You will need the ability to analyze large amounts of data.
  • Creativity: You must be able to continually generate new ideas.

What Advancement Opportunities Await You?

After you gain experience, you may qualify for a job as a senior or lead systems analyst. If you have  leadership ability, you may have a future as a computer and information systems manager or may end up in another management position.

What Will Employers Expect From You?

We again perused job announcements on Indeed.com to see what qualifications, other than technical skills and experience, employers expect applicants to have. Here's what we found:

  • "Ability to analyze complex problems and work both alone and as part of a team to find solutions"
  • "Strong organizational skills and ability to stay focused while managing multiple tasks concurrently"
  • "The ability to establish and maintain harmonious working relationships with teams, client/user base, and others  is required"
  • "Aptitude for learning new technologies"
  • "Strong communications skills, both oral and written"
  • "Excellent analytical, organizational and time management skills"

Is This Career a Good Fit for You?

Find out if you have what it takes to succeed in this career. Take the Should You Become a Computer Systems Analyst? quiz.

Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

 DescriptionAnnual Salary (2015)Educational Requirements
Software DeveloperOversees all aspects of the development of systems and applications software$105,570Bachelor's degree in computer science
Web DeveloperCreates websites, tending to their design and technical aspects$64,970Associate degree in web design

Network Administrator

Manages computer networks for a company or organization $77,810Bachelor's degree in computer science or information science
Database AdministratorUses specialized software to organize data and make it available to users$81,710Bachelor's degree in management information systems, computer science, or a related field

 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 (visited December 23, 2016).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online (visited December 23, 2016).