What Is a Computer Systems Analyst? A Spotlight on These Behind-the-Scenes Tech Pros

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Are you the go-to guy or gal 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.

One position in particular that might pique your interest is that of the computer systems analyst. It certainly sounds like a reputable job title, but you still might be wondering: What is a computer systems analyst, anyway?

We’re here to answer that question and many more, so you can determine whether this is the career path you want to pursue. Keep reading to learn about what computer systems analyst jobs entail.

What does a computer systems analyst do?

It’s the million-dollar question­—what is a computer systems analyst, exactly? 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.

What’s included in a computer systems analyst job description? Here are a few common duties, according to the BLS: 1

  • 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

Where do computer systems analysts work?

Unlike nurses or teachers, computer systems analysts can find employment in nearly any industry. Most every organization relies on some element of technology, which means they need to have the proper professionals to support these computer systems.

Large companies typically employ their own team of computer systems analysts, while smaller companies may enlist external contractors to support their needs. Here are some of the industries that commonly employ computer systems analysts:

  • Management and technical consulting services
  • Computer systems design and related services
  • Depository credit intermediation
  • Insurance carriers
  • General medical and surgical hospitals

As you can see, computer systems analyst jobs can be found in a variety of places. Whether you live in a bustling city or a more rural area, there are likely companies in need of these tech pros.

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

If you’re intrigued by that job description, you’re probably wondering what skills are needed to succeed in computer systems analyst jobs. These tech pros 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 190,000 computer systems analyst job postings from the last 12 months.2 The data revealed the top hard and soft skills employers are seeking right now. Here is what we found.

Technical skills in demand:2

  • SQL
  • Project management
  • Systems analysis
  • Business process mapping
  • Business analysis
  • Oracle
  • Business systems
  • Software development

Top transferable skills in demand:2

  • Communication
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork
  • Troubleshooting
  • Planning
  • Writing
  • Microsoft® Office
  • Research

What is the job outlook and earning potential for computer systems analysts?

Now that you know more about the computer systems analyst job description and the skills needed to fulfill the duties, you’re probably curious about the other career details. Sure, you want a job that you’ll enjoy and be good at, but it’s also important to know you can find employment and make a decent living.

You’ll be happy to hear that computer systems analyst jobs are growing steadily, with the BLS projecting nine percent growth through 2026.1 As companies across all industries are increasing their reliance on technology, computer analysts will be needed to build and maintain computer systems.

The importance of this role is also reflected in the compensation that companies are willing to offer these professionals. The BLS reports the median annual computer systems analyst salary in 2017 was $88,270.1 That’s more than twice the national average for all occupations.

Keep in mind that the computer systems analyst salary you see above reflects earnings from professionals of all education and experience levels. Entry-level salaries typically start at a lower range. But this also means that once you’re in the field and gaining hands-on experience, you have the opportunity to increase your earnings even more.

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.1

In fact, our analysis revealed that 85 percent of employers prefer candidates to have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.3 The most common degree paths for this career are Computer Science or IT Management.

Curious about what types of topics you’ll encounter in these degree programs? Here are a few examples of courses to expect:

  • Fundamentals of Enterprise Architecture
  • Introduction to Business Intelligence
  • Emerging Trends in Technology
  • IT Operations Management
  • Project Management and Team Leadership

As you can see, these programs help students gain both the hard and soft skills needed to excel in computer systems analyst jobs. But the learning doesn’t stop there. New techniques and technologies are introduced every year, which means the learning never stops for computer systems analysts.

Are you cut out to be a computer systems analyst?

So what is a computer systems analyst? You hopefully have a much clearer picture of the critical work of these behind-the-scenes tech pros. If you’re intrigued by the computer systems analyst job description and feel you have what it takes to perform the job, it’s time to take the next step.

Want to learn more about the training and education that could help you qualify for a career as a computer systems analyst? Check out the Rasmussen College Computer Science program page for more information.

1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [career information accessed December 2018]. 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.
2Burning-Glass.com (Analysis of 189,179 computer systems analyst job postings, Dec. 1, 2017 – Nov. 30, 2018).
3Burning-Glass.com (Analysis of 111,923 computer systems analyst job postings based on education, Dec. 1, 2017 – Nov. 30, 2018).
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in March 2014. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2019.
Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.

Callie Malvik

Callie is the Content Manager at Collegis Education, overseeing blog content on behalf of Rasmussen University. She is passionate about creating quality resources that empower others to improve their lives through education.

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