What Does a Computer Systems Analyst Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Image shows a woman in a room full of tech and wires. She is typing on a laptop. Text reads:

Image by Ellen Lindner © The Balance 2019

Computer systems analysts help companies or other organizations use computer technology effectively and efficiently. They incorporate new technology into current systems after doing cost-benefit analyses 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 the long-term goals of companies or organizations. 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.

Computer Systems Analyst Duties & Responsibilities

This job generally requires the ability to do the following work:

  • Research and evaluate new technologies
  • Consult with clients
  • Identify the organizational needs of IT systems
  • Analyze costs and benefits
  • Add new functionality to systems
  • Oversee installations
  • Test systems
  • Train users

Computer systems analysts research the hardware and software that are part of an organization’s computer systems in addition to the ways in which the systems are being used. As well, they need to analyze the work being done by an organization to identify the ways in which it best can be served by a computer system.

Through this research, computer systems analysts develop new systems or work to update or improve current systems. This includes analyzing the costs and benefits of purchasing new hardware and software and the time necessary to train staff on how to use it.

Computer Systems Analyst Salary

Pay for computer systems analysts is consistent throughout most industries with the exception of government jobs, which typically offer salaries about 10 percent lower than what can be found elsewhere.

  • Median Annual Salary: $88,740 ($42.66/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $142,220 ($68.37/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $54,360 ($26.13/hour)

Education, Training, & Certification

Educational requirements vary based on employer and the specific nature of the work a computer systems analyst will be doing, but a bachelor’s degree typically will be expected.

  • Education: A bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field is a common starting point for those pursuing a career as a computer systems analyst. A master's degree often is necessary for advancement in the field, and a master’s of business administration is not uncommon since a knowledge of the business of clients can be as valuable as technical computing skills.
  • Experience: In addition to expertise in computer systems, many employers want to hire individuals with backgrounds in specific fields where they will be working. For example, a computer systems analyst working for an insurance company should have some experience with and knowledge of the insurance industry.

Computer Systems Analyst Skills & Competencies

In addition to the technical knowledge necessary for the job, computer systems analysts need to possess certain soft skills to be effective at their tasks.

  • Problem-solving and critical thinking: These abilities are necessary to identify problems and then evaluate alternative solutions to determine which one is best. 
  • Communication: Excellent listening skills allow analysts to understand clients' or colleagues' needs. Strong verbal communication skills make it easier to convey information effectively.
  • Reading comprehension: Computer systems analysts have to read manuals and technical reports to keep up with advances and implement new technology that meets employers’ or clients’ needs.
  • Writing: Expect to produce written reports of recommendations.
  • Analytical skills: The ability to analyze large amounts of data quickly and efficiently is necessary.
  • Creativity: Computer systems analysts must be able to continually generate new ideas.

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for computer systems analysts is projected at 9 percent for the decade ending in 2026, slightly better than the 7 percent growth projected for all occupations. Projected growth is attributed to continued reliance on computer systems and cloud systems, leading firms to either hire in-house computer systems analysts or to contract with providers. Either way, opportunities should be available for computer systems analysts.

Work Environment

Some computer systems analysts work directly for firms with large or complex networks that require full-time IT staff to be on site. Others work independently or for consulting firms that provide computer systems analysis for clients on an as-needed basis. This means work generally is done in an office setting, whether it is a single office or multiple offices serving multiple clients.

Work Schedule

Computer systems analysts typically work full time, and it is not uncommon for some to work more than 40 hours per week when projects demand it. For the most part, schedules follow standard business hours.

How to Get the Job

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE

Analysts with specific knowledge of the industries in which they work—health care, business, etc.—will have an advantage.

APPLY

Indeed, Glassdoor, and Ziprecruiter are among the sites that typically have many listings for computer systems analysts.

Comparing Similar Jobs

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