Computer Systems Analyst

computer systems analyst

Table of Contents

Overview

Job Responsibilities

  • Collaborate with managers and other department heads to set expectations on the responsibilities of IT systems within the organization
  • Research on emerging technologies and determine if they are useful to the company by increasing process efficiency
  • Analyze costs and benefits and present it to higher level executives to decide if the systems and computer upgrades are a sound investment
  • Find out ways to maximize and make existing computer systems more productive than ever
  • Select and configure hardware and software to be able to implement better systems
  • Supervise installation and configuration of new technology 
  • Test new and existing technology to ensure that everything is working optimally
  • Make sure that the systems in place are being used to their intended advantage by coming up with instruction manuals and training the systems’ end users
  • Troubleshooting technical issues

How Much Does a Computer Systems Analyst Make?

Computer systems analysts made a median salary of $88,740 in 2018. The best-paid 10 percent made $142,220 that year, while the lowest paid 10 percent made $54,360.

median salary computer systems analyst

Common Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field
  • Business courses or major in management information systems
  • An MBA (Master’s in Business Administration) concentrating in information systems
  • For more technically complex jobs, a master’s degree in computer science may be more appropriate
  • If an analyst is not an IT or computer science degree-holder,  programming or technical expertise gained elsewhere may be applied
  • Experience in any relevant field

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Common Skills

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MEDIAN SALARY

$88,740 per year
$42.66 per hour

JOB OUTLOOK

9%

NUMBER OF JOBS

633,900

A Comprehensive Guide to Becoming a Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts work hand in hand with other people within an IT department such as software developers, data administrators, and IT managers. They also collaborate and communicate with other department leaders like business operations managers and marketing managers to be able to identify and analyze systems developments that have a positive impact on the overall performance of an organization.

Most computer systems analysts hold a degree in computer or information technology. This predicament, however, is not always required. Several businesses hire systems analysts who are business graduates or hold a liberal arts degree but have programming or IT skills which are relevant to the job.

With an upward trend in information technology-related jobs, it is expected that there will be more vacancies and higher-paying opportunities for someone looking into the field. Since it only requires at least a bachelor’s degree in information technology or computer-related degrees, it is a suitable entry-level job for someone looking for a career in the IT sphere.

What Does a Computer Systems Analyst Do?

A computer systems analyst typically works with systems which are unique to the organization that he or she is working for. For example, an analyst working for a hospital most likely deals with healthcare-related programs and data. On the other hand, an analyst working for an accounting firm may deal with finance-related programs.

In general, below are some of the responsibilities of systems analysts across all fields:

  • Maintenance and upgrade of existing computer programs and systems
  • Design new computer systems and frameworks
  • Data modeling, in-depth testing, and information analysis
  • Troubleshooting technical issues
  • Risk mitigation planning
  • Collaborating with business analysts, project leads and the IT team to resolve issues and ensure solutions are viable and consistent
  • Creating system guidelines and manuals for the organization
  • Conduct training sessions and workshops on system processes
  • Review systems and make reports on efficiencies and areas for improvement 
  • Identify business requirements and share plans with executives for review and approval

Signs You Should Consider Becoming a Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts have the primary responsibility of maintaining and upgrading a company’s tech systems. Along with that primary responsibility, other priorities branch out into tasks that require an analyst to have the following characteristics:

You know data modeling and visualization.

Data modeling is a technique applied by analysts when designing new computer systems. What it does is that it allows a computer systems analyst to view the flow of current data systems. From there on, they can use this as an essential reference to analyze the current system’s efficiency and possible areas for improvement.

Knowing about data modeling and data visualization gives you an automatic edge as an aspiring computer systems analyst. This skill is a fundamental jumpstart that can help you ease into this career as smoothly as possible. 

You are a natural problem-solver.

When visualizing data or maintaining a full system, it is expected that you will encounter problems with the system along the way. These challenges may be within the tech itself or with the end-users and may come at you in one of your routine diagnostics or reported from several different departments.

Knowing how to deal with these hiccups in the system is essential in this type of job. Problem-solving should come naturally to you, and you should be able to feel confident about facing setbacks throughout your duties. If you feel that you are always up to the challenge and are not daunted by any possible problems that may arise, you might want to look into this career.

You can cope with high pressure and tight deadlines. 

As with any tech-related job, things change rapidly and evolves at a fast pace. That is why analysts need to be up and running–thinking quickly and meeting requirements as immediately as possible. What happens to the computer systems of an organization is highly dependent on the analysis that you are responsible for producing.

Holding such an important and demanding task can easily take a toll on you if you are not well-equipped to handle stress. If you enjoy racing against deadlines and making quick but precise work, then you might just be cut out for this type of work.

You are good at project management. 

Although computer systems analysts are not really expected to lead on the regular, specific tasks may require you to head a group of people. This situation is real, especially if you are working for a large organization with complicated systems. You might be the one doing data analytics, but you will likely have someone organizing the data for you. You might be the one who comes up with all the solutions, but there might be several people under you who identify the gaps and implement your solutions. 

Being comfortable with managing an unusually large task at hand is also crucial in the life of an analyst. Don’t expect to be following along the lines all the time. Every once in a while, you can expect to head a pack of your own.

You are an efficient communicator.

If there is one misconception about tech workers, it is that they are entirely asocial. This belief cannot be farther from the truth. In fact, there is even a Tech Workers Coalition that shows just how much solidarity tech workers have in the US and almost anywhere else around the world.

Aside from having to collaborate with fellow tech workers, computer systems analysts also have to deal with end-users of the systems that are in use within the organization. They are ultimately responsible for making sure that front liners and other office users understand the existing systems and use them correctly.

On top of that, computer systems analysts are responsible for presenting the results of their analysis to managers. In this presentation, they also include proposals on maintenance and upgrade, so they should be able to defend their recommendation to be able to have a positive outcome for their plan.

computer analyst wearing headset

How Do You Become a Computer Systems Analyst?

If you think you tick most or all of the boxes in the characteristics mentioned above, and you want to try your hand at this job, here is how you can get there:

1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree 

A computer systems analyst job is one of those tech-related jobs that don’t strictly require you to have a tech-relevant degree. As mentioned previously, some analysts are business or liberal arts degree holders but have relevant tech skills that have been acquired somewhere else like online courses related to tech.

Academically speaking, all you need is a primary bachelor’s degree. Such a degree typically takes four years to finish. If you already have a bachelor’s degree that is unrelated to computers or IT, your tech training can come from other sources like special classes, online courses, or workshops and seminars.

2. Obtain Certification

The Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals offers accreditation for those trying to get a degree in IT. You can take this examination in the final year of your degree program, and once this has been passed, you are automatically a certified Information Systems Analyst.

Other certifications that the ICCP offers are Certified Computing Professional (CCP) Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) and Certified Data Professional (CDP). All of these certifications have separate exams with unique passing rates. 

3. Gain Relevant Experience and Training

Generally, you can obtain experience in this career through internships or other entry-level jobs within the industry. Most analysts are all-around personnel who do upgrade and maintenance of systems, but some analysts have a specific purpose. 

For example, software quality assurance analysts specialize in the in-depth diagnosis of computer systems. Their role is critical because they make sure that all the fine points in a network are met. They are also responsible for making recommendations for systems improvement based on the results of the diagnoses that they conduct.

Aside from regular updates and specialization, systems analysts should also gain knowledge or experience from a field that they are interested in having a career. Fields like healthcare, business, engineering, or media are some of the most common areas that analysts get into.

4. Apply

Depending on the field or company that you are applying with, your required credentials may vary–the most basic being a bachelor’s degree, IT training, and some knowledge in the field. However, some companies may require you to obtain an MBA with your primary focus being IT. Some other companies may require hard technical skills that come from a background with computer science.

You can apply for analyst positions through various platforms that usually list these types of openings like Indeed, Glassdoor, and Ziprecruiter. Make sure that you have an attractive resume or curriculum vitae so that you get to be noticeable to potential employers. Also, make sure to prepare for the interview to finally score the job you’re vying for.

5. Acquire Continuing Education

Most systems analysts train and study their entire careers since the IT field is continuously and rapidly evolving. Throughout their job, they may find that change is ever-present and that systems and technologies are updated now and then. Whenever these changes happen, which is fairly often, analysts must keep up and update themselves with the trends.

What are the Knowledge and Skills Needed to be a Computer Systems Analyst?

Being a computer systems analyst is a stressful but rewarding and enjoyable job. You can easily overcome the challenges, and the work would be more pleasurable if you equip yourself with the right skills, knowledge, and attributes that make a good analyst.

Analytical skills

As an analyst, you should expect to do a lot of analysis. You will often be dealing with large amounts of data, and you should be able to provide a report as fast as possible. Excellent analytical skills are an essential tool in functioning in this position. If you make precise and sound analysis within a short amount of time, that could be just what your organization needs to be able to move forward and advance with its endeavors.

Communication skills

Don’t think that just because you mainly work with computers, all you’ll ever do is code and fix. To be able to function in this position, you should have a reasonably good ability to communicate. You will be dealing with top to bottom personnel of an entire organization.

You will have to have excellent writing skills to be able to come up with proposals to present to higher management. You should also have excellent presentation skills since you will be showcasing and defending your proposal and how it can positively impact the company’s business.

On top of dealing with management, you also have a responsibility to ensure that all of your system’s end-users understand and maximize its ultimate use. This task entails a lot of training, coaching, and teaching–which will likely involve you speaking to groups of people within different departments or cascading a new system to the entire company.

Reading Comprehension

Since your entire career would be half spent learning about new updates, you should also be a good reader. Enjoying reading is an edge because this is one of the best ways to keep yourself up with the latest trends in tech. Having the ability to comprehend any reading material easily allows you to sift through information and grasp new concepts that may still be developing or unfamiliar to most.

Reading comprehension will also come in handy with your continuing education. Courses on new programs and software will most likely involve a lot of reading material. Having good reading comprehension will help you learn faster and absorb the material better to apply it in the best possible way to the work that you do. 

Creativity

Although computer systems analysis is a highly technical job, a healthy amount of creativity is essential to succeed in it. The ability to continually generate new ideas is useful because the job involves proposing new systems or improvements. Creativity also comes in handy when dealing with situations that call for individual actions like problems encountered with updates and other unfamiliar things.

Having a creative mind means that you are not stuck in a box of tools, and you can find better alternatives or solutions that other people might not easily come up with.

Problem-solving

Speaking of solutions, an outstanding systems analyst should be able to face problems and come up with several remedies confidently. Dealing with diagnostics means coming face to face with issues on a regular basis. Analysts are not intimidated by these problems but instead are excited to face them head-on.

Here are a few steps you can practice in order to develop excellent problem-solving skills:

  • Practice heightened awareness. Pay attention to detail, and mind all the bits and pieces of a situation. Oftentimes, the thing that needs the most amount of remedy is in the smaller details. Having a heightened sense of awareness gives you the ability to spot the problem quickly. Identifying the problem is an essential first step in problem-solving.
  • Develop a keen understanding of the problem. While this may entail a lot of technical know-how, it is also a matter of processing the issue at hand. After identifying what the problem is, you should try to understand it at a deeper level. What caused it? What is the scope of it? How will it affect everyone and everything involved?
  • Look for a different perspective. If you feel like you understand a problem, chances are, other people have a different understanding of it. Try to view it from their perspective –other people from the IT department, the managers, and the end-users. Try to see how it affects them and what they think of it so that you know better how to solve it.
  • Practice meditation. There are several benefits of meditation, like reduced anxiety and depression. However, the benefits you are going to need from it to develop good problem-solving ability is increased mindfulness and cognition. This boost in brainpower allows you to breeze through the problem-solving process like a hot knife cutting through butter.
  • Have a problem-solving mindset. This practice is easier said than done for many people. Most of us would just prefer to dodge a problem or sweep it under the rug. This type of mentality won’t make you a good problem-solver and, in turn, won’t make you a good computer systems analyst. Analysts should have the audacity to face problems head-on, fearlessly, and confidently. 

While you don’t need a computer degree to enter into a computer systems analyst position, it would be to your utmost advantage if you do. If you are absolutely sure that this is the job of your dreams, below are some of the top universities to consider. They offer either computer systems analyst courses or tech-related degrees which can come in handy when you finally land the job:

  • University of Illinois at Springfield; Springfield, TX
  • Texas Christian University; Foxworth, TX
  • University of Houston; Houston, TX
  • Howard University; Howard, DC
  • Northwest Missouri State University; Maryville, MO
  • University of Florida; Gainesville, FL
  • Southern Methodist University; Dallas, TX
  • University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; Minneapolis, MN
  • University of South Florida-Main Campus; Tampa, FL
  • University of Illinois at Chicago; Chicago, IL
  • University of California; San Diego, CA
  • University of Wisconsin; Madison, W
  • Columbia University; New York, NY
  • Cornell University; Ithaca, NY
  • Princeton University; Princeton, NJ
  • University of California-Berkeley; Berkeley, CA
  • University of Maryland-College Park; College Park, MD
  • University of Washington; Seattle, WA

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computer systems analysis laptop

How to Get a Job as a Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts are persons with some amount of power and a good deal of responsibility within an organization. They are highly skilled technically in computer science and information technology, and they have solid knowledge of business administration. 

If you think you have what it takes to become a computer systems analyst, here’s how you land the job:

Look for job vacancies online

Websites like ITCareerFinder and ZipRecruiter often post job vacancies for systems analysts. Other job recruitment sites that may offer similar careers are as follows:

Participate in job fairs

You can easily rely on social media to learn about job fairs near you. But if you want to go after these fairs or if you want to find them yourself, you can do so online. You can simply go to The US Job Fair Directory or to Job Fairing Job Fair Directory to search for job fairs that might have companies looking for systems analysts.

Networking

Having a LinkedIn profile is probably a good idea if you want a career in IT or in any field for that matter. Having social and business connections with other people in the area can get you references you would otherwise have no access to. 

If you try to have a look at the Tech Workers Coalition, you will see that they regularly organize meetings in several states like Florida, DC, and New York. Meeting fellow tech workers will also give you a sense of belonging and a better understanding of how tech melds into any industry as you come face to face with tech workers from many fields.

Learn About Geographic and Location Pay Differentials

Computer systems analysts can easily make a six-figure annual income depending on the state that they live in, which is quite impressive for an entry-level position. Even if they touch the five-figure income bracket, it still is a lucrative job position with lots of opportunity for career growth. Have a look at the mean annual wages for computer systems analyst per state last 2018:

State2018 Mean Annual Wage
New Jersey$107,540
New York$106,320
California $103,930
Virginia $102,290
Rhode Island $99,470
Texas $97,900
Maryland $97,720
Washington $96,860
Delaware $96,460
Colorado $96,030
Pennsylvania $95,990
Connecticut $94,530
Massachusetts $94,510
New Hampshire $93,620
North Carolina $93,480
Minnesota $92,920
Georgia $91,060
Oregon $89,440
Ohio $89,420
Illinois $89,370
Arizona $88,970
Florida $85,050
Alabama $84,950
Utah $84,840
New Mexico $84,660
State2018 Mean Annual Wage
Iowa $84,300
Michigan $83,900
Missouri $83,720
Wisconsin $82,480
Maine $81,670
Nevada $80,580
South Carolina $80,200
Vermont $80,190
Hawaii $80,100
Oklahoma $79,950
Indiana $79,750
Idaho $78,550
Kansas $78,520
Tennessee $77,330
Nebraska $77,240
Wyoming $77,200
Montana $76,380
North Dakota $76,110
South Dakota $75,810
West Virginia $74,010
Louisiana $72,560
Arkansas $71,990
Alaska $70,390
Mississippi $66,790
Guam $53,650

Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Make Your Resume Stand Out

While a resume might not immediately land you the job, it is a vital tool to get you noticed. Think of it as a key that could open career doors for you. That being said, below are some tips to make the best resume possible: 

Compress your resume in one page.

If you think submitting a thick wad of a file as a resume creates a good impression on an employer, you are terribly wrong. Nobody has enough time nowadays to read through a lot of lengthy narratives on a person’s credentials. Having a one-pager that is thick with important detail is a lot more impressive than a long and winding booklet.

Catch the IT manager’s attention.

Emphasize your IT-related work experience. Enumerate your tech-related duties and responsibilities. Make sure that you are gaining the right impression from the right hiring manager if you want a specific job. When making your resume, do it as if you are writing specifically for the IT manager.

Use bullet points to enumerate your skills.

Bulleting can transform boring paragraphs into accessible and digestible pieces of crucial information. You want that kind of quality when looking for ways to present your skills and knowledge. Learn how to effectively use bullet points to break up the monotony of your resume text so that your skills stand out. 

Personalize your resume.

Your resume should not feel like a generic template that was just copied off the internet. Take some time to inject as much of yourself and your personality into it since it will represent you in writing. 

Also, invest some energy into finding out things about the company and adjusting the contents of your resume accordingly. Do they value technical expertise above all? Then go hard on your skills and accolades. Do they want a level individual who can fit well with their existing team? Go ahead and sprinkle some of your people-skills onto your list of attributes.

Recall your past jobs and filter to include your most relevant experience.

If you have had previous jobs, now is the time to bring out your past accomplishments. However, make sure to only highlight and include the experiences that count. Filter out those that are not relevant to the job so that it does not take up precious space on your one-pager if you are a fresh graduate or are applying for your first internship, bank on your academic performance, and school activity involvement.

Ace Your Computer Systems Analyst Interview

The responsibility of a systems analyst mainly lies in the maintenance and upgrade of a company’s existing systems. That being said, there are several highly technical tasks that an analyst has to accomplish, and a hiring manager would usually want to know how well-equipped a candidate is to handle these tasks.

As a result of the technicality of the job at hand, you will likely come face to face with a mix of highly technical and character-related questions such as:

If you got the position, what recommendations would you make for our company as a systems analyst?

This question gives your potential employer a test drive of your creativity and analytical skills. It would be best to have an answer prepared for this type of item by doing your background research on the company. Finding as much about them as possible allows you to find opportunities for their systems development.

Tell us about a time when your recommendations made a positive impact on a business.  

This challenge gives you more opportunity to expound on the work history that you put down on your resume. Make sure that your narrative during the interview matches up with the summary of what you have put down on your resume.

How would you convince clients or managers to consider your recommendations?

At this point, the interviewer is trying to see if you have selling or persuasion skills. Having those abilities is vital since an analyst makes recommendations, so they must be able to sell those recommendations or have them approved effectively.

What requirements do you obtain when working on a new project?

Knowing the importance of requirements during the process of project implementation gives your employers an idea of how knowledgeable you are in project management. It gives them a glimpse of how dependable you are in terms of attention to detail.

In your knowledge, what is the role of a computer systems analyst?

This question is most likely to surface at the very beginning of an interview if you are applying for an entry-level position or an internship position. Having a good understanding of your primary roles and responsibilities is a good starting point for someone eyeing the position.

Top Online Courses for Aspiring Computer Systems Analysts

Sharpen your skills in computer systems analysis by taking these top online courses

If you want to upgrade your knowledge as a computer systems analyst, or if you’re looking for a switch into this career, below are a few courses you can check out:

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