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Computer System Analyst

Job Outlook: 9% (Faster than average)

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What Computer Systems Analysts Do About this section

Computer systems analysts
Analysts create diagrams to help programmers and architects build computer systems.

Computer systems analysts, sometimes called systems architects, study an organization’s current computer systems and procedures and design improvements to them. In doing so, these analysts help the organization operate more efficiently.

Duties

Computer systems analysts typically do the following:

  • Consult with managers to determine the role of information technology (IT) systems in an organization
  • Research different technologies to decide if they would increase the organization’s efficiency
  • Analyze costs and benefits of IT systems and upgrades to help managers decide which, if any, to install
  • Devise ways to add functionality to existing computer systems
  • Design new systems by configuring hardware and software
  • Oversee the installation and configuration of new systems and customize them for the organization
  • Test systems to ensure that they work as expected
  • Write instruction manuals and train the systems’ end users

Most computer systems analysts specialize in computer systems that are specific to their organization type. For example, an analyst might work with financial computer systems or with engineering computer systems. Computer systems analysts work with other IT team members to help an organization’s business leaders understand how computer systems best serve the organization.

Computer systems analysts use a variety of techniques, such as data modeling, to design computer systems. Data modeling allows analysts to view processes and data flows. Analysts conduct indepth tests and analyze information and trends in the data to increase a system’s efficiency.

Analysts calculate requirements for how much memory, storage, and computing power the computer system needs. They prepare diagrams for programmers or engineers to use when building the system. Analysts also work with these people to solve problems that arise after the initial system setup. Most analysts do some programming in the course of their work.

Analysts who focus on coding and debugging, in addition to their other tasks, may be referred to as programmer analysts. They also may design and update their system’s software and create applications tailored to their organization’s needs. For information about other occupations that do programming or testing, see the profiles on computer programmers and software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers.

In some cases, analysts who supervise the installation or upgrade of IT systems from start to finish may be called IT project managers. They monitor a project’s progress to ensure that deadlines, standards, and cost targets are met. IT project managers who also plan and direct an organization’s IT department or IT policies are included in the profile on computer and information systems managers.

Work Environment About this section

Computer systems analysts
Some systems analysts work as consultants.

Computer systems analysts held about 538,800 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of computer systems analysts were as follows:

Computer systems design and related services 24%
Finance and insurance 15
Management of companies and enterprises 10
Government 7
Information 6

Computer systems analysts may work directly for an organization or as contractors, often for an information technology firm. The projects that computer systems analysts work on usually require them to collaborate with others.

Work Schedules

Most computer systems analysts work full time.

How to Become a Computer Systems Analyst About this section

Computer systems analysts
Most computer systems analysts have a bachelor’s degree.

Computer systems analysts typically need a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation. Studying a computer science or information systems field is common, although not always a requirement. Some firms hire job candidates who have a degree in business or liberal arts along with relevant skills.

Education

Computer systems analysts typically need a bachelor's degree in computer and information technology or a related field, such as mathematics. Because these analysts are involved in the business side of an organization, taking business courses or majoring in management information systems may be helpful. Some employers hire job candidates who have liberal arts degrees and have gained programming or technical expertise elsewhere.

Some employers prefer applicants who have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in information systems. For technically complex jobs, a master’s degree in computer science may be more appropriate.

Systems analysts may take continuing education courses throughout their careers to stay abreast of new technology. Technological advances are common in the computer field, and continual study is necessary to remain competitive.

Systems analysts also must understand the industry they are working in. For example, an analyst working in a hospital may need a thorough understanding of healthcare plans and programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and an analyst working for a bank may need to understand finance. Having industry-specific knowledge helps systems analysts communicate with managers to determine the role of the information technology (IT) systems in an organization.

Advancement

With experience, systems analysts may advance to become project managers and lead a team of analysts. Some eventually become IT directors or chief technology officers. For more information, see the profile on computer and information systems managers.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Analysts must interpret complex information from various sources and decide the best way to move forward on a project. They must also figure out how changes may affect the project.

Business skills. Analysts design and implement computer systems or upgrade existing systems to meet an organization’s business goals. Analysts must have a thorough understanding of their organization’s business objectives in order to meet its needs.

Communication skills. Analysts work as a liaison between management and the IT department and must explain complex issues in a way that both understand.

Creativity. Because analysts are tasked with finding innovative solutions to computer problems, they must be resourceful and use ingenuity in their work.

Detail oriented. Analysts study an organization’s computer systems and must pay attention to the minutiae to find areas of inefficiency or error.

Organizational skills. Analysts may coordinate work with different areas of an organization and must keep track of many tasks and deadlines to ensure that projects proceed according to plan.

Pay About this section

Computer Systems Analysts

Median annual wages, May 2021

Computer systems analysts

$99,270

Computer occupations

$97,430

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for computer systems analysts was $99,270 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $60,680, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $158,010.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for computer systems analysts in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Management of companies and enterprises $100,340
Computer systems design and related services 100,220
Finance and insurance 99,340
Information 97,230
Government 80,040

Most computer systems analysts work full time.

Job Outlook About this section

Computer Systems Analysts

Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Computer occupations

15%

Computer systems analysts

9%

Total, all occupations

5%

 

Employment of computer systems analysts is projected to grow 9 percent from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 44,500 openings for computer systems analysts are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

As organizations across the economy continue to rely on information technology (IT), computer systems analysts will be hired to design and install new computer systems. Small firms with minimal IT requirements will find it more cost effective to contract with outside firms for these services rather than to hire computer systems analysts directly.

Employment projections data for computer systems analysts, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Computer systems analysts

15-1211 538,800 589,700 9 50,900 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about computer systems analysts, visit

Association for Computing Machinery

Computing Research Association

IEEE Computer Society

For information about opportunities for women pursuing information technology careers, visit

National Center for Women & Information Technology

O*NET

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