Data-oriented professionals who want to explore a career within a growing profession that offers jobs across almost every industry can seek opportunity and options in the computer systems analyst field.
Organizations in all sectors of the economy – private business, nonprofits and government agencies – continue to rely more on information technology to improve operations. They have become key drivers in industries such as healthcare and information technology.
As long as that continues, the number of jobs in this field will continue to grow, with no sign of the growth ending anytime soon.
What Systems Analysts Do
Defining what analysts do is not always an easy task, as the job duties vary depending on the industry and the specific project. These can range from managing systems that maintain employee records to software that allows healthcare professionals to transmit patient information across a variety of platforms.
A systems analyst’s work typically involves some form of the following:
- Tracking the latest breakthroughs in technology and advising organizational executives on which technological advances will help make operations more efficient
- Working with executives and managers to determine how best to integrate information technology into an operation
- Analyzing costs to determine if hardware or software upgrades are worthwhile for an organization
- Finding new ways to use existing computer software
- Overseeing the installation and operation of new computer systems
- Managing the training of personnel to properly run an organization’s computer systems
Much of the work of a systems analyst entails the proper use of data. Data modeling is used to determine the capabilities of a software system before it is installed. For existing systems, analysts run data programs to determine the effectiveness of the system.
Systems analysts can focus on system architecture and design, software quality assurance or become programmer-analysts who create software programs customized to benefit a particular organization. Those in management roles might oversee workers in all three areas.
Job Growth, Median Salary
The job growth for systems analysts is far higher than the average 7% growth expected for all occupations between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects the number of jobs for data analysts will grow 21% during that time frame, with 118,600 people moving into the profession.
Pay also is extremely competitive. Systems analysts made a median annual salary of $87,220 in May 2016, according to the BLS. The top 10% made $137,690.
Those who worked in the computer system design field made the highest median salary at $90,260.
Salary and job growth data vary by geographical location and many other factors, and candidates should conduct their own research.
Education and Skills Required
Most systems analysts have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. Because many of their job duties relate to integrating IT into business operations, some also take business classes to better understand the economic dynamics underlying an organization.
At the highest levels, employers often want systems analysts who have earned a master’s degree in computer science or business administration with an emphasis on information technology.
Master’s degrees also may be required for overseeing more technically complex jobs, or for management positions.
Certainly, for those interested in entering a data science or analytics field, a career as a systems analyst presents an opportunity for a stable career with many opportunities for growth.