An analyst and application designer develops software based on the specific needs of a group of end-users. They determine what the target group's expectations are for a particular piece of software (such as mobile apps or computer games) and then create a development plan for the design of the software. Knowledge of computer programming, industry experience, and a bachelor's degree in a software- or computer-related field are typical requirements for this position.
With computers powering everything from the space program to the cell phone, there's an ongoing need for people who can create the software programs that run them. Analyst and application designers create all kinds of software, from massive business systems that manage all the functions of a corporation, to mobile phone applications, or 'apps'.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree in computer science or related field|
|Other Requirements||Relevant programming knowledge|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||19% for software developers who work on applications*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$98,260 for software developers who work on applications*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Analyst and Application Designer Job Description
Although the job of analyst and application designer goes by a variety of names - software engineer, applications architect, computer systems analyst and programmer analyst, to name a few - its primary function is the same: to create, change and maintain software applications for a specific group of users.
Whether the end-users are corporate employees who require software to run manufacturing processes or teenagers playing computer games, the first task of the application designer is to thoroughly analyze what those users need and want the application to do. Based on this analysis, the designer develops a plan or design for how the particular application will function. That plan often involves prioritizing user needs, developing programming specifications and determining timelines for development.
Application designers typically work on a team that may include other computer analysts, programmers and end-users. They may design a new application from scratch, modify an existing one or find solutions to issues with either new or existing software. Often, the analyst is responsible for customizing a packaged application to address the needs of specific users. Software designers also may oversee software's programming and direct its testing and documentation procedures.
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Requirements to Become an Analyst and Application Designer
Most employers want analyst and application designers who have at least a bachelor's degree in a field such as computer science, software engineering, mathematics, information technology or management information systems. Some colleges and universities offer certificates or associate degrees in computer science that can supplement a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field.
In addition to a degree, experience is a key requirement for most analyst jobs. Designers are expected to have worked as software programmers and testers. Students can often get that kind of experience during internships supervised by application analysts.
Successful application designers have the ability to both analyze systems and think creatively to come up with innovative solutions. They also need to be fluent in computer hardware technology and its limitations, as well as experts in the programming language used to develop the application, whether it's an Internet or mobile app, a database or a business program incorporated into a corporate system. Those who work on teams need strong communication skills so they can explain their solutions to both customers and fellow team members. Some analysts who work for small businesses or are self-employed may work alone all or most of the time, in which case they also need to be self-starters and have excellent time-management skills.
In addition to relevant education and programming experience, application analysts are expected to keep up with the often rapid changes in their field. As a result, many certification programs are offered by industry organizations, private institutions and software vendors as a way of updating skills and knowledge. Certifications can also help job applicants demonstrate their expertise and potentially improve their chances of getting hired.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), software developers, who are often involved in the design and analysis of computer applications, could expect a 17% increase in employment opportunities from 2014-2024, a significant jump compared to all careers across the nation. The software developers who work specifically on applications made a mean annual wage of $98,260 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov) and has a projected job growth rate of 19%.
Successful analyst and application designers need to be able to work well with other software development professionals and understand the needs of a specific target market in order to design or modify a program. Strong analytical skills are essential for this role, as is innovative thinking and communication. These professionals are also expected to maintain a current knowledge of rapidly changing technologies and can obtain various voluntary certifications from a number of organizations in order to stay up-to-date and to help increase employability.