Computer systems analysts help companies maximize their productivity by integrating technology into their operations. The profession combines business practices and computing technology. Systems analysts advise companies on the best ways to use technology, installing systems and software that meet an organization’s needs and help them run their businesses more effectively.
What Does a Computer Systems Analyst Do?
As a systems analyst, you’re responsible for identifying a company’s computing needs and devising solutions to meet them, which requires business savvy and knowledge of information technology. Professionals should be fluent with programming languages like SQL and Java and have soft skills like communication, collaboration, and problem solving. Computer systems analysts oversee the installation of new hardware, test existing systems, and communicate with supervisors about new IT needs. You’re also responsible for staying current on the latest technology and determining how it may fit into the company’s IT operations.
Communication Communicate with managers to make recommendations about IT practices, including new systems and organizational changes.
Increasing Efficiency Observe work environments and interview employees to determine necessary methods, equipment, and personnel solutions to increase efficiency.
Monitoring Organizational Spending Examine revenue, expenditure, employment reports, and other financial data.
Ensuring Up-to-Date Technology Develop new IT solutions and modify existing organizational practices.
Update and Track Best Practices Compile information about issues and current procedures.
Common Career Paths for Computer Systems Analysts
Computer systems analyst careers are available in many different industries. The highest-paying management positions may require advanced education and years of professional experience. The following chart lists some of the most common systems analyst careers along with a brief description of their duties.
Systems analysts integrate IT solutions into business operations by analyzing systems to determine potential areas of improvement and suggest new software. They also monitor the installation process and software usage. Some analysts design or customize applications to suit specific organizational needs.
Managers are responsible for overseeing teams that coordinate various aspects of a company's IT infrastructure, such as networking, security, and software platforms. IT managers are also responsible for creating IT protocols for different departments or the entire company.
IT directors oversee large-scale technology planning and organization. They are responsible for major projects, such as systems upgrades. Many directors lead the hiring process and review other IT managers and analysts.
Typically serving at the highest technology-related position in a company, chief technology officers manage all IT operations and are responsible for determining the direction of the company’s IT practices. They supervise the heads of all IT departments and are part of the company’s senior management team.
Types of Computer Systems Analysts
Systems analysts occupy many roles in business and IT, and job responsibilities may vary depending on position. Below are some of the most common types of system analysts along with a brief overview of their job duties.
Business Systems Analyst
These analysts ensure that businesses are operating efficiently and identify solutions to allocate resources and eliminate waste. Business systems analysts must understand software systems and coding, but their work may move into the area of general logistics for computing systems. Many business analysts frequently travel, making several visits to different job sites and work environments to offer IT solutions.
Business Requirements Analyst
Business requirements analysts are efficiency experts. They are typically employed in an IT capacity, but their duties extend to other aspects of business. Requirements analysts determine logistical, financial, IT, and infrastructure requirements for projects and devise solutions to ensure they function efficiently. While IT skills are required, requirements analysts must also be able to see the big picture, identifying potential problems or bottlenecks before they arise.
Potential Industries for Computer Systems Analysts
Systems analysts are in demand in a wide range of industries, each of which have different challenges. The chart below lists the many environments where computer systems analysts find work.
Healthcare analysts improve the efficiency of patient care delivery and patient recordkeeping. Given the sensitive nature of information in the field, they may need some knowledge of healthcare policy and regulations.
In government agencies, systems analysts improve the efficiency of IT operations, which helps make public service more efficient. These analysts address complex problems related to services and infrastructure.
Analysts employed in e-commerce develop network systems to ensure that companies conduct business securely and effectively. They also monitor computer systems to address infrastructure problems as they emerge.
In finance positions, an analyst’s goal is to ensure efficiency in computer operations to generate profit. Analysts in these positions may need an advanced level of business and finance knowledge to make software and system decisions.
Salary for Computer Systems Analysts
Systems analysts can expect to earn a competitive salary, even in an entry-level position. Salary opportunities are likely to grow as professionals accrue years of experience, which is shown in the chart below.
Average Salary for Computer Systems Analysts by Experience Level
Entry Level (0-5 Years)
Mid-Career (5-10 Years)
Experienced (10-20 Years)
Late Career (20+ Years)
Interview: How Did Your Master's in Business Analytics Change Your Career?
Nihar Satapathy SVP at thyssenkrupp
As senior vice president of strategy, markets, and development at thyssenkrupp North America, Inc., Nihar Satapathy uses business analytics to provide strategic analysis of key markets and competitors to determine future business opportunities.
Why is business analytics such an important topic for modern society?
Data has always been central to society. According to the National Archives, the census is older than the Chinese, Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations, dating back to the Babylonians in 4000 BC. Incans -- maybe as early has 5,000 years ago -- wore quipu, a wearable data storage and communications system that told a person’s whole financial story. Why? Because where society spends its resources is critical to making sure we are using our scarce resources wisely as well as for helping to inform long-term decisions. As a 200 year-old engineering focused company, data analysis is the lifeblood of everything we do at thyssenkrupp.
Within my Strategy, Markets and Development team we focus on projects to drive value to our businesses and help us better serve our customers. Recently we conducted a segmentation of our customers for one of our businesses. We realized that roughly 20% of our 20,000+ customers drive nearly 80% of sales. By using this information we were able to drive better customer engagement with our top tier customers while delivering a differentiated level of service based on customer segments which helped improve overall satisfaction as well as the performance of our business.
Why is business analytics an exciting and/or lucrative industry to join right now?
As an analyst you can work on high impact projects that drive real value to business. Companies today hire many different types of analysts (e.g. Financial, Risk, Supply Chain, etc.) based on the specific business function requirements. These analysts play a crucial role in helping senior management understand how their business is performing and how they can improve. Within my team we spend a lot of time doing various types of analyses like customer segmentation, profitability, supply chain optimization and forecasting. The projects help us find ways to better serve our customers or reduce inefficiencies within a given process.
For example, one of thyssenkrupp’s automotive businesses has to deliver components to our customers JIT (just in time). If this critical part is not available to the customer in time the entire production line can shut down causing millions in delays. The team was able to improve our business’s process by analyzing its workflow. We helped reduce inventory by 20% while still being able to meet the very high levels of service demanded by our customers.
How will the course your school offers give students a leg up in their career?
Contributor’s Note: As a corporate entity thyssenkrupp does not offer public courses but here are thoughts on which types of courses are valuable to me as a team leader and consultant.
Get experience working with large data sets either through experiences such as coursework or internships, etc. The larger the data, the better. And, real-world data is ideal because it has more ambiguity and is more realistic. Get familiar with the latest tools and techniques in the field, software like Tableau, Microsoft BA and Microstrategy; learn their pros and cons. Courses in statistics, business data analysis and modeling, supply chain management, R & Python programming can be useful. Excel and Access are valuable lifelong tools that can serve you well in any industry or position.
In your opinion, will this industry grow as time goes on? Will there be a higher demand for business analysts?
Gartner predicts this year, 2017, 8.4 billion connected “things” will be in use and the number will reach 20.4 billion by 2020. Total spending on endpoints and services will reach almost $2 trillion this year as well. As we gather information from every imaginable device – at thyssenkrupp we collect data on tens of thousands of elevators a day – data has seeped into every part of our lives. The person and teams who understand how to decipher this content can inform the strategy of any part of any type of business. Critical roles include business analysts, data scientists and data architects. But, I also see business analysis skills astutely employed by innovators in R&D and the most cutting-edge global leaders.
What advice would you give someone looking to begin their careers in business analytics?
Data analysis does not have to be an endpoint. Be curious. Business analysis is driven by understanding how things work and can be improved or applied to other problems. Challenge yourself to connect the dots, to understand the purpose of the business challenge and what information drives this strategy. Talk to people who are or have worked as business analysts and hear their insights.
Educational Paths to Becoming a Computer Systems Analyst
Most computer systems analyst positions require employees to hold, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. While there’s plenty of learning on the job, many positions require the combination of education and hands-on experience that a college program offers.
What Degree is Needed to Become a Computer Systems Analyst?
A bachelor’s degree in a computer science or a related area, such as information systems, is required for most computer systems analyst positions. Since systems analyst work is intertwined with business, taking business courses or minoring in business makes you more desirable to employers. Some positions require a master’s degree; many systems analysts hold an MBA with a specialization in information systems or a related IT field. For more technical positions, a master’s in computer science might be more appropriate.
Internships for Computer Systems Analysts
An internship builds professional experience and potential career connections. They typically require students and professionals to work a set number of hours each week and relate to course learning. Most internships are unpaid, but the more competitive options are often paid.
A systems analyst internship allows you to gain experience in a professional IT environment, performing entry-level work and seeing how the industry operates. Internships are typically available at a variety of locations and can usually be arranged through your school or independently. Most schools offer course credit for students who complete an internship, and some programs (particularly at the master’s level) require a certain number of internship hours as part of the curriculum.
Computer Systems Certifications
Information Systems Analyst
Designed for graduates of four-year IT programs, the ISA certification tests students against standards set by the information systems model curriculum. The three-hour exam qualifies analysts for the ISA-practitioner designation with a minimum 50% grade and for the ISA-master level designation with a minimum 70% grade.
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert
Intended for mid-level IT Professionals, the MCSE certification tests knowledge across a range of technologies and is available in several specializations, including desktop infrastructure, business intelligence, and server infrastructure.
Cisco Network Certification
Cisco, the industry-standard for networking, offers a large selection of certifications at five ascending levels: entry, associate, professional, expert, and architect. The Cisco career guide can help you determine which certification is appropriate for your experience level and professional goals.
Association for Computing Machinery ACM is dedicated to advancing computing as a science and a profession. It is the largest educational and scientific computing association, bringing together educators, professionals, researchers, and students. The group has more than 100,000 members across the world, with over 860 professional chapters offering local and regional support. ACM hosts conferences, advocates for public policy, publishes industry journals and magazines, and offers more than $1.5 million in scholarships annually.
IEEE Computer Society The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society has more than 60,000 members, including software engineers, IT professionals, and systems analysts. The group hosts more than 200 conferences and events annually, publishes 17 scholarly journals, supports members through a range of scholarships and awards, and is responsible for 400 local and regional chapters.
Computing Research Association The CRA works with the government, businesses, and academia to strengthen technological innovation. The association has more than 200 organizations among its members, including professional societies, academic departments, and research laboratories. The association sponsors public policy, hosts professional events, and educates and mentors emerging technology professionals. The association has departments dedicated to the advancement of students and women in the computer systems field.