Should I Become a Computer Analyst?
Computer analysts help companies achieve technological goals by designing, developing, maintaining, and configuring computer systems, hardware, and software. Computer systems analysts work full-time, though some work more than 40 hours per week. They may work for an individual corporation, provide services to several companies through employment at a consulting firm, or even be self-employed. Some travel to clients' locations may be required.
This career typically requires a college education and continuing education to keep current on new technological developments.
|Degree Level||Varies; bachelor's degree is most common|
|Degree Field||Computer science, management information systems, business administration, or other related program|
|Experience||Entry-level experience typically required for applicants with an associate's degree|
|Key Skills||Analytical, communication, problem-solving, interpersonal, and decision-making skills; programming, systems evaluation, and systems analysis skills; ability to use web platform development, configuration management, and program testing software|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$85,800 (for computer systems analysts)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET Online.
Steps to Getting into this Career
Step 1: Get an Associate's Degree
Some computer analysts are able to obtain a position in the field with an associate's degree in addition to related work experience. Related associate's degree programs, such as the Associate in Science in Information Sciences and Technology, cover topics like database systems and information system design. These programs can prepare graduates for computer or information technology positions, such as computer support specialists.
Additionally, you can apply for an internship. Internship and training opportunities are available at many businesses. Information technology departments regularly use interns to help perform routine tasks. These internships can lead to full-time careers after school. This would provide the opportunity to gain valuable work experience that employers prefer in conjunction with an associate's degree.
Step 2: Acquire a Bachelor's Degree
Most employers prefer to hire computer analysts with a bachelor's degree. There are many majors available for prospective computer system analysts, such as computer science, information science, engineering, and applied mathematics. Much of the coursework in these programs is technical, and some common classes include:
- Computer programming
- Data structures
- Operating systems
- Programming languages
- Computer architecture
Step 3: Find Employment
Analysts in this field may work in a consultation position or directly with a business or an organization. When they begin their career, they may also work under an experienced computer analyst who holds a managerial position. Many businesses and industries use computers today, so a computer analyst may have career opportunities with many different companies.
Join a professional association. Organizations, such as the Association for Computing Machinery, provide access to industry resources and tools. Benefits usually include an association newsletter as well as discounts for continuing education workshops and webinars. Some associations also provide members with access to career services that include job listings and the opportunity to post resumes online for potential employers that are hiring.
Step 4: Consider a Master's Degree
While not necessary for entry-level positions, some employers prefer computer analysts who have additional education or an advanced degree. Managerial positions usually require a master's degree. Computer analysts interested in working in a specific industry may consider advanced education to help increase job opportunities in that field.
To really shine in this field, enroll in a dual concentration. Some companies prefer job applicants who have a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in addition to a concentration in the area of information systems.
To recap, with an undergraduate degree and possibly work experience, computer systems analysts make about $86,000 a year to design, develop, maintain, and configure computer systems, hardware, and software.