A woman wearing headphones sits in front of a computer

A computer systems analyst could...

Help a bank provide its customers with cutting-edge wireless options to make purchases anywhere. A person scans an image with a smartphone Upgrade a company's security systems to prevent hackers from getting users' personal information. A person typing on a keyboard with blue back lights
Choose the best hardware and software to enable a social media company to keep up with thousands of posts a minute. Close-up photo of the pins underneath a CPU Improve emergency response times by upgrading the 911 computer systems that are in a city. Four medics move a patient on a stretcher away from a helicopter
Find out more...

Key Facts & Information

Overview Computer systems analysts have to know what computer programs and related tools are needed to efficiently get a job done. The jobs are usually carried out by other people, but the computer systems analyst makes sure the team has the right computer-based aids they need to do it. A computer systems analyst has to stay on top of the latest technologies, know the capabilities and limitations of different computer parts, and put all of this information together to help a group of people succeed.
Key Requirements Analytical abilities, problem-solving and organizational skills, ability to focus on details, an understanding of what people want from their computers, outstanding communication skills
Minimum Degree Vocational/Associate's degree
Subjects to Study in High School Chemistry, physics, algebra II, pre-calculus, calculus, English; if available, computer science, statistics, applied technology
Median Salary
Computer Systems Analyst
U.S. Mean Annual Wage
Min Wage
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) Faster than Average (14% to 20%) In Demand!
  • Read about what Bettina Bair does as a systems analyst, including what she enjoys most about the job and what is challenging about it.
  • Watch this video of Brandon Howe, an information technology systems analyst at Pennsylvania College of Technology, to see how he became interested in this career.
  • Watch this video to get an idea of what a day on the job is like for different computer systems analysts
Related Occupations

Training, Other Qualifications

Most employers prefer computer systems analysts who have at least a bachelor's degree, although oftentimes only an associate's degree is required. Computer systems analysts must also have experience with a variety of computer systems (hardware and software) and related technologies.

To remain competitive in the field, computer systems analysts must continually keep up on the latest technologies and know how apply them. To do this, they may pursue continuing education, attend seminars and conferences, and read research and trade journals to keep their knowledge and skills up to date.

Education and Training

A bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline is typically required for all entry-level computer systems analyst jobs, although oftentimes an associate's degree will suffice. A more technical position may require a graduate degree in a computer-related field, such as a master's degree in computer science.

Typically, a computer systems analyst will have a degree in computer science, information science, or computer engineering. However, analysts may alternatively have a degree in business or liberal arts with experience and skills related to computer science, primarily information technology (IT) and computer programming. Business-focused companies, in particular, may seek out computer systems analysts with a background in business, such as individuals who have a master's degree in business administration (MBA).

Other Qualifications

Computer systems analysts should have strong problem-solving and analytical skills. They must also be able to communicate effectively (both orally and in writing) with other people to understand their computer-related needs. The other people they will need to interact with may include computer specialists, staff who are not computer specialists, management, and customers. Because people may have specific needs to complete a project, computer systems analysts must be able to concentrate and pay close attention to details.

Nature of the Work

Computer systems analysts have an eye for detail and are committed to finding computer-related solutions for the people they work with. A computer systems analyst will meet with people to learn about their individual projects and computer-related needs and evaluate the computer systems that they currently use. To help them more efficiently complete their projects, the analyst will then give the people recommendations for upgrades, improvements, and alternative computer systems parts (software and/or hardware). For example, the analyst may find a software program that is more suitable for reaching the company's goal than the current software program that is being used. Alternatively, the analyst may find that certain hardware components are outdated, and greater productivity could be achieved by upgrading these components. The analyst will then work with these people to implement the agreed-upon changes.

Watch this video to learn about Helene Schulte's job as a systems analyst for the city of Edmonton in Canada.

Some computer systems analysts are more focused on technical aspects of computer-based projects. These analysts might need a graduate degree (such as a master's degree) in computer science or a similar discipline to be technically proficient. Others are more involved in the business side of relationships. For example, these analysts may be hired by a company to meet with potential customers and discuss the company's product and how it would be useful for the customers. These analysts may have a background in business, such as a master's degree in business administration (MBA).

Computer systems analysts must be familiar with the range of computer systems (software and hardware) that are available, and must also be familiar with new computer-related technologies as they emerge. To relay computer-related information to individuals with a range of computer experience (from computer specialists to people without a computer science background), analysts must have strong communication skills and be able to work well with different groups of people. Computer systems analysts often become the middle person between computer systems developers and customers/users, so they need to be able to understand, and convey, a range of viewpoints.

Work Environment

Computer systems analysts work in offices or on job sites, typically in comfortable surroundings. They usually work about 40 hours a week, which is about the same as many other professional or office workers. However, some computer systems analysts may need to be on call for emergencies, and/or work evenings or weekends to meet deadlines or solve specific problems.

Like other workers who spend long periods typing on a computer, computer systems analysts are susceptible to eyestrain, back discomfort, and hand and wrist problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome or cumulative trauma disorder, but preventative measures can be taken.

On the Job

  • Work with customers and users to understand limitations of current computer systems that are being used.
  • Create technical documents about computer functions.
  • Communicate with management about changes to be made with computer systems, ensuring that they are within budget, etc.
  • Devise a plan with others to make computer system upgrades.
  • Perform functional tests on computer systems.
  • Contribute to the creation of user manuals.
  • Plan out a brand-new computer system to meet a customer's specific needs.
  • Perform cost analyses to determine a cost-effective approach to improving computer components.
  • Work with customers and users to determine what their computer systems (software and hardware) needs are and determine specific computer systems upgrades and improvements to increase productivity.
  • Communicate with people who have a wide range of computer experience.
  • Install new computer systems in an office setting.
  • Relay customer feedback on a product back to others at the company and discuss how the product should be improved, or how a new one should be designed.
  • Train customers in using a company's product.
  • Travel to meet with customers at other locations.
  • Test a new computer system to ensure it is working as expected.
  • Work with a business to develop a new computer-related product that would be useful for their potential customers.
  • Meet with potential customers to discuss a company's new computer product and how it could benefit the customers.
  • Work with software developers to create a new software program that meets customers' needs.

Companies That Hire Computer Systems Analysts

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Science Fair Project Idea
Students who are mathematically inclined can use the student version of a program like MatLab or Mathematica to convert a digital image into numbers, then perform operations such as sharpening or special effects. This is a great way to learn about image processing algorithms. Read more

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