Computer Systems Analyst

Career Profile

female computer Systems Analyst working on a computer in a server room
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A computer systems analyst helps a company or other organization use computer technology effectively and efficiently. He or she incorporates new technology into a company's current system after doing a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether it is financially sound and will serve the entity well.

There are three types of computer systems analysts. Systems designers or architects find technical solutions that match a company's or organization's long-term goals.

Software quality assurance (QA) analysts test and diagnose problems in computer systems. Programmer analysts develop and write code for software that meets their employers' or clients' needs.

Quick Facts

  • In 2016, computer systems analysts earned a median annual salary of $87,220.
  • Almost 601,000 people worked in this occupation in 2016.
  • Most jobs are with organizations in a variety of industries. Some analysts are consultants who are on the payrolls of information technology (IT) firms.
  • Most computer systems analysts work full-time and many work more than 40 hours a week.
  • Those who work as consultants often have to travel to their clients' offices.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a good job outlook for computer systems analysts. The government agency expects employment to grow as fast as the average between 2016 and 2026.

Job Duties

These are some typical job duties taken from online ads for computer systems analyst positions found on Indeed.com:

  • "Research, evaluate and recommend new technologies for service delivery and improvement"​
  • "Identify and recommend new design tools for use in communications projects"
  • "Design, develop, program, install, implement, conduct research for, and maintain internal data processing computer systems and utilities for customers on a contract basis"
  • "Coordinate with user personnel and management staff to provide requirements definition, clarification, prioritization, and design alternatives"
  • "Coordinate and link the computer systems within an organization to increase compatibility and so information can be shared"
  • "Consult with management to ensure agreement on system principles"
  • "Assist in training less experienced staff"
  • "Publish weekly reports that identify progress made towards implementing monitoring by application and by environment"

How to Become a Computer Systems Analyst 

You will most likely need a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field to work in this occupation, but some employers will hire applicants who don't have a college degree. You may also need a background in the industry in which you want to work, for example, insurance or health. Because this occupation integrates business and technology, some employers prefer to hire job candidates who have a master's degree in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in computer systems. You will have to earn a master's degree in computer science if you want a more technical job. Regardless of where you work, you must keep up with trends in the tech industry.

Soft Skills 

A computer systems analyst must have certain soft skills, or personal qualities, in addition to their technical skills:

  • Problem Solving and Critical Thinking: These abilities will let you readily identify problems and then evaluate alternative solutions to determine which one is best. 
  • Communication Skills: Excellent listening skills will allow you to understand your clients' or colleagues' needs. Strong verbal communication skills will permit you to convey information effectively.
  • Reading Comprehension: You will have to read manuals and technical reports to keep up with advances and implement new technology that meets your employer or clients needs.
  • Writing: Expect to produce written reports of your recommendations.
  • Analytical Skills: You will need the ability to analyze large amounts of data.
  • Creativity: You must be able to continually generate new ideas.

Advancement Opportunities

After you gain experience, you may qualify for a job as a senior or lead systems analyst. If you have leadership ability, you may have a future as a computer and information systems manager or may end up in another management position.

What Employers Expect 

We again perused job announcements on Indeed.com to see what qualifications, other than technical skills and experience, employers expect applicants to have. Here's what we found:

  • "Ability to analyze complex problems and work both alone and as part of a team to find solutions"
  • "Strong organizational skills and ability to stay focused while managing multiple tasks concurrently"
  • "The ability to establish and maintain harmonious working relationships with teams, client/user base, and others  is required"
  • "Aptitude for learning new technologies"
  • "Strong communications skills, both oral and written"
  • "Excellent analytical, organizational and time management skills"

Is This Career a Good Fit for You?

Consider your interestspersonality type, and work-related values when you choose an occupation. All play a role in career satisfaction. Computer systems analyst is a good match for individuals with the following traits:

Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

 DescriptionAnnual Salary (2016)Educational Requirements
Software DeveloperOversees all aspects of the development of systems and applications software

Systems Software: $106,860

Applications: $100,080

Bachelor's degree in computer science
Web DeveloperCreates websites, tending to their design and technical aspects$66,130Associate degree in web design

Network Administrator

Manages computer networks for a company or organization $79,700Bachelor's degree in computer science or information science
Database AdministratorUses specialized software to organize data and make it available to users$84,950Bachelor's degree in management information systems, computer science, or a related field