Several schools offer certificate, bachelor's and master's degree programs in this growing field. These programs focus on project management and scheduling, as well as network security management, and they also might include special projects, internships or thesis requirements. Voluntary certification exists for qualified professionals who can pass competency exams. To gain admission into a bachelor's program, students should already have their high school diploma or GED. For a master's degree, students should already have a bachelor's degree.
Business Systems Analyst Certificate
Business systems analyst certificate programs comprise 4-6 courses that can typically be completed in a single semester. Some schools provide online learning for working professionals that allow for flexible scheduling. Programs are typically designed for those with current or previous experience in business, though this is not necessarily a requirement.
Certificate curricula focuses on fundamental practices and the role of systems analysts in a business environment. Some common course topics include:
- Business-to-IT communication
- Managing projects and resources
- Analyzing business needs
- Project scheduling and budget control
- Critical-thinking and problem-solving
Bachelor's Degree in Business Systems Analysis
Several schools offer a 4-year bachelor's degree in business systems analysis. Students might find online or hybrid programs that they can participate in around a busy work schedule. In addition to core training, schools may provide concentrations within the program that prepare graduates for different specializations within the field, such as network specialist or planning analyst. Depending on the program, students can either complete a comprehensive project or an internship.
Curricula focuses on theoretical as well as practical aspects of the analyst's role. Coursework specifies IT details and how it relates to business needs and practices. Class topics might feature:
- Network security management
- Business systems auditing
- IT project management
- Accounting and budgeting
- Data and database management
Master's Degree in Business and Information Systems
A master's degree showcases an analyst's talents and promotes career advancement. Students can also choose to earn a Master of Business Administration with a concentration on information systems. Master's degree programs usually take two years to complete and often culminate in a research thesis project. Several schools offer online learning, allowing working business or IT professionals to enhance their skills in the field of systems analysis.
Earning a master's degree often aids in career advancement since several of the courses focus on management topics. Even with online learning, students might need to participate in on-campus or on-site internships or faculty-assisted research projects. Course topics in a master's program might include:
- Accounting and economics
- Project management
- Organizational behavior
- Information systems assessment
- Human resources management
- Technology integration practices
Several schools offer bachelor's and master's graduates an opportunity to earn a doctoral degree in information systems. Admissions into doctorate programs are rigorous, and candidates must complete a dissertation to graduate. Doctoral studies center largely around research and prepare professionals for careers in academia at the collegiate level or advanced business positions.
Graduates of a bachelor's degree program may continue studies in a graduate program. Earning a master's degree typically prepares professionals for roles in management. The IIBA and other professional organizations also offer or endorse in-person and online classes, seminars and workshops for professionals to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and business IT solutions.
In the business environment, a bachelor's degree may provide more employment opportunities and a higher salary than a certificate. Common career options include:
- Systems analyst
- Business analyst
- Information systems specialist
- Database designer or administrator
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Graduates of a certificate program may qualify for entry-level positions or advance a current career into a business systems analyst, also known as a computer systems analyst, role. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as businesses expand their dependence on IT solutions, employment for computer systems analysts continues to increase (www.bls.gov). The BLS projected demand for these professionals would grow 21% between 2014-2024. The 2015 salary information provided by the BLS indicates the median wage for systems analysts at that time was $85,800 per year.
Analysts with a master's degree in business systems analysis often qualify for management positions over IT and non-IT employees, project management or consulting. The BLS projected demand for computer and information systems managers would increase 15% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS further reported that the median annual salary of computer and information systems managers was $131,600 in 2015.
With a strong projected job growth and competitive salaries, graduates can enter the field of business systems analysts by pursuing a number of certificate, undergraduate, and graduate degree options.