The primary responsibility of systems analysts is to ensure the computer systems are optimally functioning. Systems analysts research, plan, coordinate and make recommendations for software, hardware and system choices that meet a company's business requirements. Computer systems analysts usually perform a cost benefit analysis for proposed changes. In addition, since they make technical specifications based on user requests, they act as the liaisons between vendors and IT professionals of the company they represent.
A systems analyst has an important role in the systems development process. To plan and design computer systems, they utilize techniques such as data modeling, structured analysis and information engineering.
They evaluate user requirements, procedures and problems in order to improve or automate an existing system. They expand or modify a system to serve new purposes or to enhance work flow. A computer systems analyst makes sure the computer systems within an organization or across organizations are compatible so information can be shared.
Most computer systems analysts work with specific types of computer systems such as accounting, business, scientific engineering or financial systems. Those that focus on assisting an organization with choosing system software and infrastructure are called system architects. System designers specialize in developing and fine-tuning systems.
- They develop specifications, flow charts and process diagrams for computer programmers to follow
- Perform feasibility studies of a computer system prior to making recommendations to management
- Learn the customers requirements
- Keep track of systems development
- Collaborate with designers and convey the possible interface of the software
- Implement new systems
- Develop documentation
- Help users and staff solve computer related problems
- Test, maintain and monitor computer programs and systems
A systems analyst needs to have technical, analytical, interpersonal and managerial skills. They need to effectively communicate with personnel that does not have a high level of understanding about computer technology. Systems analysts should be well organized and be able to grasp concepts quickly and see the big picture. However, they also need to pay attention to small details. They also need good math and computer skills.
They typically work forty hours a week, however they may sometimes work in the evenings or on the weekends to solve problems or to meet deadlines. Some analysts telecommute, using computers to work from remote locations.
The growth rate for employment of computer systems analysts is projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to be 29% from 2006 to 2016 which is much higher than the average for all occupations. Demand for computer systems analysts will increase as companies and organizations adopt and integrate complex technologies.
Those with advanced degrees in computer science or computer engineering or those which have a MBA with an emphasis in information systems should have the best prospects. Workers with a bachelor's degree in computer science, information science, computer engineering or management information systems also have good prospects, especially those that have practical experience.
In 2006 the median annual earnings for computer systems analysts was $69,760. Regarding the popular industries for systems analysts, the professional and commercial equipment and supply merchant wholesalers industry provides the top median annual earnings.
Experienced systems analysts may move up to senior or lead systems analyst positions. They can also become computer and information systems managers, or manager of information systems or chief information officer. Some experienced systems analysts that have expertise in a specific subject become independent consultants.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Training requirements vary depending on the job. However, a bachelor's degree in computer science, information science, management information systems or a related field is the minimum requirement for the occupation. Some systems analysts earn a bachelor's degree in another subject and acquire computer experience via specialized courses or hands-on experience.
For complex jobs, a graduate degree is often preferred. Since a computer analyst needs to have a solid foundation in business operations and understand which technologies will best serve a particular business model, a master's degree in business with a focus on computer technology is highly beneficial. Employers typically seek candidates that have expertise relevant to the job. For example, a systems analyst working for a bank should have some expertise in finance.
- Association for Computing Machinery
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society
- National Workforce Center for Emerging Technologies
The major employment sector is the computer systems design and related services industry. Other significant employment sectors are insurance companies, the government, hospitals, financial institutions; management, scientific and technical consulting services firms; professional and commercial equipment wholesalers, and data processing services companies.
Schools for Systems Analysts are listed in the Browse Schools Section.