Computer Systems Analyst
A computer systems analyst could...
|Help a bank provide its customers with cutting-edge wireless options to make purchases anywhere.||Upgrade a company's security systems to prevent hackers from getting users' personal information.|
|Choose the best hardware and software to enable a social media company to keep up with thousands of posts a minute.||Improve emergency response times by upgrading the 911 computer systems that are in a city.|
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|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||Faster than Average (14% to 20%) In Demand!|
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).
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.
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.
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
Explore what you might do on the job with one of these projects...
- Feel Free to Sleep at School... If You're a Computer!
- Green Your PC: Help Your Computer Save Power
- How Fast is Your Computer?
- Killing 'Vampires': Saving Money and Power by Turning Off Computer Peripherals
- Printing Power! Save the Environment, One Printer Page at a Time
- The Point of a Parabola: Focusing Signals for a Better Wireless Network
- What Materials Can Block a Wi-Fi Signal?
Do you have a specific question about a career as a Computer Systems Analyst that isn't answered on this page? Post your question on the Science Buddies Ask an Expert Forum.
- O*Net Online. (2016). National Center for O*Net Development. Retrieved July 1, 2017, from https://www.onetonline.org/
- Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2014, January 8). Computer Systems Analysts. United States Department of Labor. Retrieved February 14, 2014, from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-systems-analysts.htm
- CareerOneStop. (n.d.). Computer Systems Analyst. Retrieved February 14, 2014, from http://www.careerinfonet.org/occ_rep.asp?next=occ_rep&Level=&optstatus=000110111&id=&nodeid=2&stfips=&jobfam=15&soccode=151121
- Smartgirl. (n.d.). Career Hubs: Computer Systems Analyst. Women in Science and Engineering Program at the University of Michigan and the National Science Foundation. Retrieved February 14, 2014, from http://www.smartgirl.org/brain-food/career-hubs/computer-systems-analyst.html
- About Career Planning. (n.d.). Computer Systems Analyst. Retrieved February 14, 2014, from http://careerplanning.about.com/od/occupations/p/compsysanalyst.htm
- Pennsylvania College of Technology. (2013, February 20). IT Systems Analyst Brandon Howe. Retrieved February 14, 2014, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvoXD4J0sxg
- WOSU Public Media. (n.d.). Words from the Wise: Meet Bettina Bair, Systems Analyst. MyCoolJob.org. Retrieved March 11, 2014, from http://mycooljob.org/wise/systems_analyst.php
- The City of Edmonton. (2012, November 7). City of Edmonton Jobs: Information Technology – Systems Analyst. Retrieved February 14, 2014, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YiVZlR7BdQ
Explore Our Science Videos
5 Easy Fizzing & Foaming Science Projects
Flower Dissection - STEM Activity
Lift Ice with Yarn STEM activity