What is a Computer Systems Analyst, Anyway?
Are you the go-to guy when anyone you know has a complicated computer issue? You’re probably also the one who’s always eager to get your hands on the latest and greatest tech gadgets. Your passion for technology may have you thinking a job in this field would be right up your alley. If so, it’s time to explore your options!
If you look at the U.S. News & World Report’s list of America’s best technology jobs in 2016, you’ll quickly notice that computer systems analyst currently occupies the top spot. And why wouldn’t it? Employment for this position is projected to grow 21 percent by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s three times more than the national average for all U.S. occupations, which is seven percent.
It’s hard not to like those statistics. You also like the idea of working in a cutting-edge, in-demand field. So now you’re probably wondering: What is a computer systems analyst, anyway?
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. This means they must have a solid understanding of both. They use that knowledge to plan information systems solutions to help a business operate more efficiently and effectively.
Here are some of the daily duties, according to the BLS:
- 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 actually carry out the duties detailed above. Computer systems analysts must have a wide array of skills related to both business and IT. They must maintain perfect harmony between an organization’s personnel, process flow and computer systems.
In order to sustain this balance, they must retain a holistic understanding of the organization and how each component works together. By also processing a high-level awareness of all 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 to analyze nearly 200,000 computer systems analyst job postings from the last 12 months.1 The analysis revealed the top hard and soft skills employers are seeking right now. Here is what we found:
|Hard skills in demand:||Soft skills in demand:|
|Systems analysis||Problem solving|
Not familiar with some of the technical skills listed 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?
Part of the motivation in taking the next step in choosing a career path is so that you can afford the bills and other expenses that come with daily life. You’ll be happy to hear that the median annual salary for computer systems analysts in 2015 was $85,800, according to the BLS.2 That’s more than double the national average annual wage index of all occupations, which was $36,200.
What’s even more exciting is that once you start gaining valuable hands-on experience, your earning potential can increase quite a bit. The BLS reports that it’s not uncommon for senior computer systems analysts to earn well into the six figures annually!
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 excel on the job. The BLS notes that most computer systems analysts have a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field.
In fact, our analysis revealed that 84.2 percent of employers prefer candidates to have to have a bachelor’s degree or higher.3 The most common degree paths for this career are computer science or IT management. For those looking to get a faster start in the field, an associate degree is a great first step to landing an entry-level position.
Formal education and training is needed to get started at a computer systems analyst, but the learning doesn’t stop there. New technologies are introduced every year, which means continual study is essential to remain competitive in the field, according to the BLS. For this reason, many computer systems analysts opt to continue taking classes in order to stay up to date throughout their careers.
Turn your passion into a career
A formal education may be the only thing that’s standing between you and your new high-tech career.
Now you have a solid understanding to answer the question, “What is a computer systems analyst?” The promising job outlook and earning potential of this top tech job should have you excited about the possibilities. Now it’s time to explore the degree options that will provide you with the perfect balance of skills and expertise needed to excel in this position.
Learn more by visiting the Rasmussen College School of Technology page today.
1Burning-Glass.com (Analysis of 196,352 computer systems analyst job postings, Sep. 01, 2015 – Aug. 31, 2016)
2Salary 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.
3Burning-Glass.com (Analysis of 118,869 computer systems analyst job postings based on education, Sep. 01, 2015 – Aug. 31, 2016)
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in March 2014. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2016.