What is a Computer Systems Analyst, Anyway?

The time has finally come. You’re ready to accept that you’re officially grown up. Though your mother, friends or significant other may insist that this decision is long overdue, you’re convinced that the time is right to find a “real job.”

You’re the go-to guy when anyone you know has a computer issue and you can’t wait to get your hands on the latest and greatest gadgets. If your passion for technology has you thinking a job in this field would be right up your alley, it’s time to explore your career options.

If you look at U.S. News & World Report’s list of America's best technology jobs in 2014, you’ll find computer systems analyst among the top three. And why wouldn’t it be? Employment in this position is projected to grow 25 percent through 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.)

If you like the idea of working in a cutting-edge, fast growing field, you’re probably wondering: What is a computer systems analyst, anyway?

Well, we compiled government information and real-time job analysis data to provide you with a detailed look inside this career. Everything you need to know about being a computer systems analyst is right here.


What does a computer systems analyst do?

It’s the million dollar question—what exactly is a computer systems analyst? In a nutshell, individuals in this profession are responsible for merging business and information technology (IT) initiatives, which means they must understand both. They use that knowledge to plan information systems solutions to help a business operate more efficiently and effectively.

Daily responsibilities may include:*

  • Analyzing data processing problems to improve computer systems
  • Enhancing system compatibility to simplify the sharing of information
  • Calculating memory and speed requirements for a computer system
  • Consulting with business leaders to determine the role of the IT system

What skills do you need to be a computer systems analyst?

If that description has piqued your interest, you’re probably wondering which skills are needed to excel in this position. Computer systems analysts must have a wide array of skills related to both business and IT, according to the BLS. They must maintain perfect harmony between an organization’s personnel, process flow and computer system.

In order to sustain this balance, they must retain a holistic understanding of the organization and how each component works together. By also possessing a high-level awareness of all of the moving parts of a company’s computer systems, the computer systems analyst must be able to effectively manage multiple tasks simultaneously.

We used real-time job analysis software from BurningGlass.com to analyze more than 280,000 computer systems analyst job postings in 2013. The analysis revealed the top hard and soft skills employers are seeking right now. Here is what we found:

    Soft skills in demand:

  • Communication & coordination
  • Business intelligence
  • Problem solving
  • Project & process flow
  • Basic customer service

    Hard skills in demand:

  • SQL
  • Oracle
  • Java
  • Linux
  • Unix


Not familiar with some of the technical skills you above? Don’t panic! That’s precisely the type of training and expertise you can expect to gain by earning a computer science degree.

What is the salary potential for computer systems analysts?

One big reason you’re looking for a grown-up job is because you’ve got grown-up bills to pay. So you’d be lying if you said you weren’t curious about the earning potential for this career. You’ll be happy to hear that the average computer systems analyst rakes in nearly $80,000 per year.** That’s nearly double the national average wage index for 2012, which was about $44,322.

What’s even more exciting is that once you start gaining experience, you have the potential to earn an annual income of up to $122,000 as a senior computer systems analyst! That’s more than enough to convince your friends and family that you’re a mature adult—and you’re sure to have a little extra to have some fun for yourself!

What education is needed to become a computer systems analyst?

Before you can start earning that kind of money you’ve got to acquire the knowledge and expertise needed to land the job. Eighty-six percent of employers prefer their computer systems analysts to have a bachelor’s degree. The most common educational options for these professionals are a degree in computer science or IT management.***

Acquiring a bachelor’s degree is the best way to get started in this field, but the learning usually doesn’t stop there. New technologies are introduced every year, which means continual study is essential remain competitive, according to the BLS. This is why most computer systems analysts continue to take classes throughout their careers.

Now you know…

If someone ever asks you what a computer systems analyst is or what they actually do, you should now be able to put together and intelligent description. If not, just forward them this article!

If the promising job outlook and earning potential have you excited about this top tech job, explore the degree options that will provide you with the perfect balance of skills and expertise needed to excel in this position.

A formal education may be all that’s standing in between you and your new grown-up career!


*Bureau of Labor Statistics

**Median annual salaries came from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary. 

***BurningGlass.com (Analysis of 282,627 computer systems analyst job postings, Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2013)

External links provided on Rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced.

Callie is a Content Marketing Specialist who writes helpful and encouraging career-focused content on behalf of Rasmussen College. Her eagerness for helping others combined with her creative writing passion makes her a great asset to past, present and prospective learners...

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