Should I Become a Systems Analyst?
Systems analysts, sometimes referred to as computer systems analysts, investigate a company's computer systems and business procedures to determine how the company can operate more efficiently. They might determine whether new technologies can help a company, as well as analyze the costs and benefits of implementing new systems. Moreover, an analyst may oversee the upgrading of existing computer systems or the installation of new systems in addition to employee training.
Systems analysts may work in a range of industries, but generally hold full-time positions; for some, overtime is common. Analysts may work directly for a single corporation or be employed by a computer consulting firm. Though some of the work systems analysts do may be done independently, much of their workload requires collaborations with other IT professionals. Short-distance travel to clients' locations may be required for particular jobs and projects.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree; master's degree for some positions|
|Degree Field||Computer science or a related field; Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in information systems|
|Experience||3-5 years of experience or a combination of work experience and education in computer science or a related field|
|Key Skills||Reading comprehension, critical thinking, and complex problem-solving skills; creativity and ability to work well in a team; familiarity with programming, systems evaluation, and analysis|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$85,400 (for computer systems analysts)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net, Job postings (September 2012)
To get started in this career, you'll need a bachelor's degree in computer science, and some employers prefer a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in information systems. Employers typically require between 3-5 years of experience or a combination of work experience and education in computer science or a related field.
Key skills for systems analysts include reading comprehension, critical thinking and complex problem-solving skills; creativity and ability to work well in a team; familiarity with programming, systems evaluation and analysis.
The median annual wage for computer systems analysts was $85,400 in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What are the steps to become a systems analyst?
Find schools that offer these popular programs
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Many bachelor's degree programs in computer information systems are designed to prepare students to work as systems analysts. These programs provide students with knowledge of business workflow processes, enterprise integration, project management and data management. Computer-related classes in these programs cover topics like database design and implementation, web application development, Java programming, systems analysis and business information systems. Students might also take classes in project management, financial management and marketing.
To get the most out of your bachelor's degree program:
- Complete an internship. Most computer information systems bachelor's degree programs offer internship opportunities. Completing an internship not only provides hands-on experience working in the field, but also networking opportunities that may lead to a career after graduation.
- Consider completing a minor. The BLS states that employment in some fields may require specific education or training. For example, analysts working in the healthcare industry might need to be familiar with basic healthcare practices. Completing a minor in the area of intended future practice may make it easier for students to find employment after graduation.
Step 2: Work as a Systems Analyst
Healthcare companies, private businesses, and government agencies hire systems analysts. Usually, applicants are required to have a bachelor's degree and five years of experience working in the field. Some employers count college credits as work experience.
- Completing continuing education. Because of the rapid pace with which technology changes, analysts may find it necessary to complete continuing education. Continuing education departments at colleges and universities may offer classes in specific computer applications or management practices that can help analysts perform their job duties.
Step 3: Consider Advanced Training
Master's degree and post-baccalaureate certificate programs in computer information systems are available. These programs provide advanced instruction in computer and business analysis and integration. Their curriculum may include classes in database management, artificial intelligence, and digital image processing. Additionally, they may cover topics such as network administration, Web servers, information systems consulting and information systems project management. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, possessing a graduate degree may make it easier to assume more technically advanced positions in systems analysis.
To recap, with a bachelor's degree and 3-5 years of experience, systems analysts can earn about $86,000 a year to investigate a company's computer systems and business procedures to determine how the company can operate more efficiently.