Computer Systems Analyst Job Description
Computer systems analysts analyze data processing problems and make recommendations to help computer systems operate more effectively and efficiently. In many cases, computer systems analysts fill the role that bring IT and business together, and they are one of the few people within an organization that has a clear understanding of how technology impacts the needs of the business.
Computer systems analysts often begin a project by determining the objective of a system. They meet with managers and other stakeholders to understand what the system needs to do, and then work with the IT team and engineers to understand what equipment is needed and at what cost. With this information, they are able to put together a proposal that will meet the business objectives as well as the technology needs.
With the proposal in hand, computer systems analysts need to get approval for the system, so they present their recommendations to upper management or finance teams. If the plan is approved, the computer system analysts are responsible for making sure that it gets implemented and released on time. If it isn’t approved, then they need to hold additional meetings with all stakeholders to come up with an alternate plan.
Some computer systems analysts work with many different types of systems, while others choose to specialize. For example, financial institutions and healthcare organizations have very different business needs, and rely on different types of software to run their business. By specializing, analysts are much more familiar with the systems that each type of business needs, and are often able to make more qualified recommendations than those who don’t specialize.
There are many different types of computer systems analysts, each with their own areas of interest and specialties. Here are a few of the most common:
Programmer analysts create custom applications that are designed to meet the needs of a specific organization. Their day to day role is similar to that of a software developer, but they interact more with management and have more in common with a product manager than a typical software developer does.
QA analysts are responsible for testing systems. They run processes that test the system for bugs, and then provide reports to developers, product managers, and senior management detailing what the problems are and recommending ways that they can be fixed.
Systems designers help an organization to choose the right software and hardware for their systems. By understanding the long-term and short-term objectives for a particular project, they are able to recommend systems that will best serve the needs of the business.
Work Environment and Schedule
Many computer systems analysts are employed directly by the organization they work for, but there are others who work as consultants. Consultants are hired by different organizations to help them solve technological problems.
Some consultants need to travel frequently to meet with clients and work with their teams on site. Depending on the location of a client and the type of problem they’re trying to solve, consultants can be away from home for extended periods of time.
Many consultants in this field specialize in working with a particular type of business. For example, some consultants specialize in hospital systems, while others may work with the systems used by financial institutions. This can be advantageous, because the consultant has an understanding of the business they’re working with before they start a project.
Most computer systems analysts work full time, and working overtime is often required.
How to Become a Computer Systems Analyst
Most computer systems analysts have a bachelor’s degree in information science, computer science or another computer related field, but not all do. The truth is, there are many different paths people can take on their way to becoming a computer systems analyst.
Some computer systems analysts major in a liberal arts or traditional science field, and then become interested in computer systems as their careers progress. By following their interests and passions, they’re able to learn what they need to know along the way, and naturally end up working in a computer systems analyst role.
Each business has different needs, and requires a different background. For instance, a systems analyst who works in a hospital would need to have a background in health management to do their jobs effectively. Similarly, a systems analyst at an insurance company would need to know about the needs of that industry in order to design an effective system.
Some people in this occupation start out by earning an associate’s degree or technical certificate, and then get experience working in a junior position in IT or at a help desk. Over time, they learn enough about information systems and the industry they work in that they’re able to advance into a systems analyst role.
In some cases, employers prefer to hire systems analysts who have an MBA in information systems or computer science. This is a rare requirement for entry level positions, but it becomes more important for senior level positions.
Since this field is constantly changing, computer systems analysts have to spend their entire careers learning new things. If they don’t keep up with the technological changes that impact their jobs, their methods can quickly become out of date.
There are currently 544,400 computer systems analysts in the United States, with 22,250 new computer systems analyst job openings created each year.
Computer Systems Analyst jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Computer Systems Analyst Salaries
Computer Systems Analyst salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most computer systems analysts make between $62,300 – $98,500 per year, or $29.93 – $47.35 per hour.