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Systems Analyst: Job Description & Employment Info

Learn about the type of work that a systems analyst performs. Find out what education and skills are required, and check the employment outlook and salary to decide if this is the right career for you.

Career Definition for a Systems Analyst

There are specific types of systems analysts, such as systems architects or systems designers, but a systems analyst generally works in the computer department of a company providing the research and information necessary to maintain an up-to-date computer system. The main responsibility of a systems analyst is to make certain the computer system of his or her employer is functioning optimally. To do this, a systems analyst may examine both the hardware and software currently being used and suggest or even design new programs to better meet the organization's needs. In most cases, the systems analyst would also provide a cost-benefits analysis to make certain any proposed changes were fiscally responsible.

Education Bachelor's degree in computer science or related field
Job Skills Organizational and logical thinking capability, math and computer expertise, strong communication skills
Median Salary (2015)* $85,800
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 21% growth

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

The most direct route to a systems analysis career is to earn a bachelor's degree in computer or information science; however, some systems analysts hold bachelor's degrees in another discipline and add computer experience through specialized classes or hands-on experience. Due to the need to understand business operations and which technologies might best serve a specific business model, a master's degree in business with an emphasis in computer technology is also great preparation for a career in systems analysis.

Required Skills

A systems analyst must be organized and be able to see the big picture, yet still pay attention to the smallest details. He or she will need strong math and computer skills as well as logical thinking. A systems analyst must also be able to communicate well with employers and other professionals who may not understand computer technology at the same high level.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), the growth rate for this occupation is expected to be 21%, faster than the average for all occupations from 2014-2024. The BLS also states that the median annual income for systems analysts was $85,800 as of May 2015.

Alternative Careers

Similar career options within this field include:

Information Security Analyst

For those with an interest in securing corporate data and investigating breaches, becoming an information security analyst may be a good career option. Information security analysts examine vulnerabilities in computer systems, develop additional security measures, recommend policies and procedures to management and install firewalls to guard against future cyberattacks. To enter the field, earning a programming or computer science bachelor's degree is necessary and a master's degree may be required for more complex positions. Aspiring security analysts should also have professional experience in a field such as network or database administration. As projected by the BLS, information security analysts should expect to see job opportunities increase by 18% from 2014 to 2024, resulting in the creation of over 14,000 new jobs. The BLS also estimated that these analysts earned a median annual salary of $90,120 in 2015.

Computer Network Architect

If designing and overseeing the installation and modification of computer networks sounds appealing, consider becoming a computer network architect. Other job responsibilities include exploring future needs, planning for equipment expansion, choosing what network devices to use, creating the layout of equipment and developing ways to secure data. A bachelor's degree in engineering, information systems or related computer science field is generally required to work in this profession, but MBA degrees are often desired by employers. Previous employment in an information technology field, such as network administration or systems analysis, is also necessary. In 2015, the BLS reported that over 146,000 computer network architects worked in the U.S. and received $100,240 in median annual income. Employment growth of 9% is predicted for network architects between 2014 and 2024, based on BLS figures.

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