Across the world, advanced computer information systems are enabling companies and organizations to perform digital tasks such as storing large amounts data, running complex software, and leveraging various forms of technology to help achieve their goals. Systems analysts monitor and maintain these systems to ensure they are operating efficiently. They also suggest new ways to modify and improve the information technology structures of companies and organizations.
Earning an undergraduate degree and developing a detailed understanding of information technology and system management are critical steps toward becoming a systems analyst. Read on to learn more about systems analysts’ job duties, salaries, and potential for career advancement.
What Does a Systems Analyst Do?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer systems analysts “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.”
This job description requires systems analysts to have a robust background in computer programming and technology, the ability to effectively identify patterns and problems, and the capacity to keep an organization’s information technology running to expectation.As for what a systems analyst does, the specific answer can vary depending on the type of work and the level of responsibility in an organization. Generally, the tasks of a systems analyst can include the following, according to PayScale:
- Conduct application testing and provide database management support
- Create and maintain documentation as necessary for operational and security audits
- Establish new users, manage access levels, and reset passwords
- Analyze and route issues into the proper ticketing systems and update and close tickets in a timely manner
- Devise or modify procedures to solve problems involving computer equipment capacity and limitations
As technology continues to evolve, organizations will rely on systems analysts to not only be well versed in the latest digital developments, but also be able to provide effective recommendations regarding systems improvements. In becoming a systems analyst, professionals will also need to continually add to their technological skill set and expertise throughout their careers.
Steps to Become a Systems Analyst
Here are some key steps to consider if you are interested in preparing for a career as a systems analyst.
1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Organizations that hire systems analysts often require candidates to have at least an undergraduate degree in a related field, such as an online bachelor’s in management information systems, computer science, or information technology. In these programs, aspiring systems analysts can gain the comprehensive technical knowledge they need to thrive in their careers.
2. Develop Specialized Technical Skills
As technology has advanced, so have the responsibilities of systems analysts and the types of technologies and systems they may maintain. To become a systems analyst and obtain specialized analyst positions — which ComputerScience.org lists as systems designer, software quality assurance (QA) analysts, or programming analysts — individuals need to know those specific technologies in addition to their larger programming and information technology skill set.
Step 3: Earn a Master’s Degree for Advancement
While an IT professional with a bachelor’s degree can potentially become a systems analyst, candidates who have a master’s degree may have advantages when it comes to being hired or promoted. After gaining a few years of experience in an entry-level position, IT professionals can pursue a master’s program that is aligned with their career goals. A sample list of such programs may include:
- Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Information Technology: This program helps IT professionals translate technical skills into business strategies. With an intense focus on managing IT resources alongside designing advanced databases, this program is an excellent choice for students who are planning on becoming systems analysts. The program may also open opportunities to top leadership positions such as chief technology officer (CTO).
- Master of Science (MS) in Cyber Security: With technology always evolving, organizations need to use current methods of ensuring that data is safe and protected from cyber criminals. Coursework in this program focuses on the prevention of data breaches and the legal limitations of user privacy. This prepares students to proactively spot, mitigate, and fight against the constant danger of cyber threats to an organization.
- Master of Science (MS) in Software Development: To be successful, it is imperative that organizations keep pace with the rapid changes in computer science and computing. With coursework focused on developing software faster, at a lower cost, and with fewer mistakes, students in this program prepare to help companies implement the latest technology innovations.
Earning a master’s degree can be very helpful for IT professionals who seek to take their careers to the next level. However, in addition to academic credentials, many employers look for relevant job experience before selecting a candidate for a systems analyst position.
Systems Analyst Salaries
The average computer systems analyst salary was $88,270 in 2017, according to the BLS. Salary ranges can vary significantly depending on education level and experience in the field. According to PayScale, late-career professionals earned 22% more than the national average, while entry-level professionals collectively earned 10% less.
Workplace location is a factor that impacts the salaries of systems analysts. New Jersey, New York, California, Virginia, and the District of Columbia had the highest earnings in the country, all with an annual mean wage of over $100,000. In addition to job location, knowledge of specific technical skills, frameworks, programming languages, servers, and software also help these professionals earn higher salaries, according to PayScale reports.
Employment Outlook for Systems Analysts
The number of available positions for systems analysts is on track to grow 9% from 2016 to 2026, according to the BLS. This coincides with companies consistently putting an even greater emphasis on information and computer technologies.
Learn More About Becoming a Systems Analyst
Systems analysts play a critical role in monitoring, evaluating, and improving their organization’s IT systems and processes. They constantly learn on the job to keep their digital skills sharp and be prepared to respond to new challenges as technology advances. If you are interested in investigating and solving complex technical problems, Maryville University’s online bachelor’s in management information systems could be a great fit. Our curriculum is designed to prepare you for real-world situations that you may encounter in a career as a systems analyst. Visit our program website today to learn more about how to become a systems analyst and explore the opportunities that may await you on the path toward this career.