Computer systems analysts assist organizations in extracting maximum performance and benefit from its equipment, personnel, and business processes. They solve computer problems, apply technology, develop new computer systems, or streamline existing systems. They usually work with one specific type of system, such as business or accounting, and use techniques like structured analysis, data modeling, information engineering, mathematical model building, sampling, and cost accounting to design those systems. Once a system is designed, they prepare tests, observe the results, write charts and diagrams for the programmers to follow, and work with programmers to debug the system as necessary.
Computer systems analysts must be logical thinkers and good communicators. They must be able to multitask while, at the same time, pay close attention to minute details. Because they often work in teams, computer systems analysts must be able to communicate efficiently and effectively with other personnel, such as programmers, managers, users, and other staff with little or no technical background.
In 2002, computer systems analysts earned a median annual salary of $62,980. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $39,270, and the highest 10%, who earned more than $93,400. The following shows the median annual salaries for the industries employing the highest numbers of computer systems analysts:
- Federal Government – $68,370
- Computer systems design and related services – 67,690
- Data processing, hosting, and related services – 64,560
- Management of companies and enterprises – 63,390
- Insurance carriers – 59,510
Training and Education
Employers of computer systems analysts require candidates to have highly-developed skills and related education. They also emphasize the importance of broad background and knowledge, as opposed to the narrower skill sets sought by employers in the past. Computer systems analysts enter the field through a number of different paths. Many employers require a bachelor’s degree, while a 2-year degree may suffice for others. Graduate degrees are usually a prerequisite for more technically complex jobs, and relevant work experience will always increase a candidate’s chances. Generally, most employers look for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information science, or management information systems. However, when employers are desperately seeking workers knowledgeable in extremely new, cutting edge technologies, formal education and experience requirements can often be waived.
In 2002, computer systems analysts held about 468,000 jobs. The largest numbers of jobs were found in computer systems design and related services. Many computer systems analysts were employed by Internet service providers, web search portals, and data-processing, hosting, and related services firms. Others worked for government, manufacturers of computer and electronic products, insurance companies, financial institutions, and universities.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of computer systems analysts is expected to increase much faster than the average. This will be due to continued adoption and integration of new technologies, rapid growth in computer system design and related services, and the need to replace workers who leave the labor force or move to other occupations and positions. Demand for this occupation also will be fueled by increased use of Internet applications in business, the growth of electronic commerce, the introduction of Wireless Internet.
Directory of Schools Offering Computer Information Systems Programs