Computer systems analysts study an organization’s current computer systems and find a solution that is more efficient and effective.
What they do
Computer systems analysts, sometimes called systems architects, study an organization’s current computer systems and procedures, and design solutions to help the organization operate more efficiently and effectively. They bring business and information technology (IT) together by understanding the needs and limitations of both.
Computer systems analysts typically do the following:
- Consult with managers to determine the role of IT systems in an organization
- Research emerging technologies to decide if installing them can increase the organization’s efficiency and effectiveness
- Prepare an analysis of costs and benefits so that management can decide if IT systems and computing infrastructure upgrades are financially worthwhile
- Devise ways to add new functionality to existing computer systems
- Design and implement new systems by choosing and configuring hardware and software
- Oversee the installation and configuration of new systems to customize them for the organization
- Conduct testing to ensure that the systems work as expected
- Train the systems’ end users and write instruction manuals
Most computer systems analysts specialize in computer systems that are specific to the organization they work with. For example, an analyst might work predominantly with financial computer systems or with engineering computer systems. Computer systems analysts help other IT team members understand how computer systems can best serve an organization by working closely with the organization’s business leaders.
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 in-depth tests and analyze information and trends in the data to increase a system’s performance and efficiency.
Analysts calculate requirements for how much memory, storage, and computing power the computer system needs. They prepare flowcharts or other kinds of 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 is set up. Most analysts do some programming in the course of their work.
In some cases, analysts who supervise the initial 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.
Many computer systems analysts are general-purpose analysts who develop new systems or fine-tune existing ones; however, there are some specialized systems analysts. The following are examples of types of computer systems analysts:
Software quality assurance (QA) analysts do in-depth testing and diagnose problems of the systems they design. Testing and diagnosis are done in order to make sure that critical requirements are met. QA analysts also write reports to management recommending ways to improve the systems.
Programmer analysts design and update their system’s software and create applications tailored to their organization’s needs. They do more coding and debugging than other types of analysts, although they still work extensively with management and business analysts to determine the business needs that the applications are meant to address. Other occupations that do programming are computer programmers and software developers.
Computer systems analysts can work directly for an organization or as contractors, often working for an information technology firm. The projects that computer systems analysts work on usually require them to collaborate and coordinate with others.
Analysts who work on contracts in the computer systems design and related services industry may move from one project to the next as they complete work for clients.
How to become a Computer Systems Analyst
A bachelor’s degree in a computer or information science field is common, although not always a requirement. Some firms hire analysts with business or liberal arts degrees who have skills in information technology or computer programming.
Most computer systems analysts have a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field. Because these analysts also are heavily involved in the business side of a company, it may be helpful to take business courses or major in management information systems.
Some employers prefer applicants who have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in information systems. For more technically complex jobs, a master’s degree in computer science may be more appropriate.
Although many computer systems analysts have technical degrees, such a degree is not always a requirement. Many analysts have liberal arts degrees and have gained programming or technical expertise elsewhere.
Many systems analysts continue to take classes throughout their careers so that they can learn about new and innovative technologies. Technological advances come so rapidly in the computer field that continual study is necessary to remain competitive.
Systems analysts must understand the business field they are working in. For example, a hospital may want an analyst with a thorough understanding of health plans and programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and an analyst working for a bank may need to understand finance. Having knowledge of their industry helps systems analysts communicate with managers to determine the role of the information technology (IT) systems in an organization.
The median annual wage for computer systems analysts was $90,920 in May 2019. 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 $55,180, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $147,670.
Employment of computer systems analysts is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.
As organizations across the economy increase their reliance on information technology (IT), analysts will be hired to design and install new computer systems. Smaller firms with minimal IT requirements will find it more cost effective to contract with cloud service providers, or to industries that employ expert IT service providers, for these workers. This contracting should lead to job growth in both the data processing, hosting, and related services industry and the computer systems design and related services industry.
Similar Job Titles
Applications Analyst, Business Analyst, Business Systems Analyst, Computer Analyst, Computer Systems Analyst, Computer Systems Consultant, Information Systems Analyst (ISA), Information Technology Analyst (IT Analyst), System Analyst, Systems Analyst
Software Developer-Applications, Software Developers-Systems Software, Database Administrator, Computer Network Architect, Software Quality Assurance Engineer and Tester
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- AFCEA International (Armed Forces Communications & Electronics)
- Association for Computing Machinery
- Center of Excellence for Information and Computing Technology
- Cyber Degrees EDU
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
- IEEE Computer Society
- Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals
Magazines and Publications
Computer systems analysts learn an organization’s computer systems, and design improvements and fixes to help them run more efficiently. They focus on understanding the specific needs of the business so that their information technology, or IT, solutions expand the business’ capacity, while keeping computer systems running. Computer systems analysts research emerging technologies, analyze the costs and potential benefits of changes, devise ways to improve existing computer systems, and introduce new hardware and software to the organization. They also train end users to use new systems and may even write the instruction manuals for them. Computer systems analysts may work directly for an organization or as consultants—typically for IT firms. They work in many organizations, including systems design companies, finance and insurance, and government. Their projects usually require collaboration with other employees and groups. Most systems analysts work full time, and overtime can be expected when projects require it. Consultants may need to travel to meet with clients. While most computer systems analysts have a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field, a liberal arts degree may be acceptable if a candidate has programming or technical expertise. Some employers prefer applicants with a master's degree in business administration with a concentration in information systems.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org