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Computer Systems Analyst Job Description and Salary Outlook

Computer systems analysts help companies and organizations achieve their goals by designing, implementing and maintaining computer systems. Click "play" to watch system analyst career video.



Posted 2010



Job description: Computer systems analysts utilize information technology (IT) tools to help organizations achieve their objectives. This includes designing and developing computer systems by selecting and installing hardware and software components, and figuring out ways to use the resources of an existing system to carry out important functions.

Depending on the type of organization they work for, computer systems analysts often work with specific systems related to a particular field, such as business, financial, accounting, medical or scientific systems. Their work begins by consulting with management and end users in defining the objectives of the system, and then working with software engineers, computer programmers and other IT professionals in designing the system to meet these objectives. This involves gathering user requirements and business specifications for how the system will be used. Once a system has been approved, computer systems analysts oversee its implementation, testing, release and maintenance.

Systems Analysts Job Summary

  • Employers prefer to hire applicants with a bachelor’s degree in computer and information systems, management information systems or a related field, or those who hold a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in information technology.
  • Since they may work in specific industries such as accounting, healthcare or business, knowledge and experience in these areas are also helpful.
  • Many systems analysts work 40 hours or more per week, and some work from remote locations.
  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in this field is expected to grow much faster than the average compared to other occupations over the coming years.

Work Environment for Computer Systems Analysts

Most computer systems analysts work 40 hours per week in offices and laboratories. Some of them may put in longer hours or conduct their work from a remote location. Physical injuries aren’t common in this field, but there are some risks to spending long periods of time in front of a computer. These professionals may develop back pain, eyestrain and in some cases, carpal tunnel syndrome.

Education, Training and Licensing

Employers generally prefer to hire job candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree in computer and information systems (CIS), management information systems (MIS) or a related field. Positions that are more complex or challenging may require a graduate degree. A growing number of employers are seeking candidates who have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in information technology, particularly for management-level roles.

Employment as a computer systems analyst is also available to individuals who have a degree in another area and possess relevant technical skills. Computer science courses and work experience can prepare individuals for a job in this industry.

Expertise relevant to a specific job field or employer is also desirable; for instance, banking, finance and accounting systems analysts need to know about business processes specific to those industries. Those working in healthcare need to be familiar with health management software and systems. Many companies prefer applicants with business, information technology and finance training, and may assist their employees with developing these skills.

Jobs Outlook and Earnings for Computer Systems Analysts

According to research published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer systems analysts held approximately 512,720 jobs in May 2009. Most of these jobs were with computer systems design and related services firms as well as the management of companies and enterprises. Others were employed by insurance carriers, professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers, and state government agencies.

Employment in this field is forecasted by the BLS to grow by 20% from 2008 to 2018, which is much faster than the average compared to other occupations. This is due to organizations increasing their use and integration of sophisticated technologies as well as growth in the demand for information security.

How much do computer systems analysts make? BLS records for May 2009 indicate that the average annual wage for computer systems analysts was $80,430. The middle 50% earned between $60,070 and $97,200. While the lowest 10% had a yearly salary of $47,130 or less, the highest 10% earned upwards of $119,170 annually.

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