Systems analysts plan and develop new computer systems.
It is their job to make the most of a computer's power by making it perform
In order to be effective, systems analysts must be
fully knowledgeable about computers, programming, and applications. They must
have a full understanding of the capabilities and limitations of all the
hardware and software they are dealing with.
In some cases, systems analysts will be required simply
to recommend a specific computer. In others, individuals may be asked to design
new computer systems or add additional hardware or new software applications.
Systems analysts meet with managers of businesses to
determine what they require the computer to accomplish. They must know exactly
what types of problems the computer will be expected to handle so that they can
break down each task into separate programmable procedures.
They will then design the system and determine the
required hardware and software. Systems analysts may also prepare an analysis
comparing the cost of the new system to its benefits, as well as the return on
the investment. With this information, management can evaluate whether the
proposed system is financially feasible, useful, and cost efficient.
One of the major job description duties of a systems analyst is the
debugging of a computer system. The term debug, in computer jargon, means to
eliminate errors from a system. It often takes a great deal of time and must be
checked and rechecked until it is error free. The analyst must determine the
cause of the bug and eliminate it from the system.
Analysts usually work fairly normal schedules.
Individuals may, however, be required to work overtime when a deadline must be
Systems analysts can work for temporary agencies, on a
contractual basis or in full-time employment settings. Some of these include:
Hardware manufacturers, Software manufacturers, Aerospace
industry, High-tech companies, Banks, Data processing services, Government
agencies, Insurance companies, Manufacturers in a variety of industries and Self-employment
Opportunities for the 21st Century
The current automation of offices, telecommunications,
and countless industries indicates that there will be a growing demand for
systems analysts in the future. In addition, many more homes and small
businesses are using computers as a result of a drop in prices. Therefore,
systems analysts are needed to help these people increase their productivity.
Systems analysts will be required to network different
computers so that they can communicate with each other. This is important as
more businesses use multi-user systems. This includes businesses that use a
large number of personal computers or microcomputers in addition to mainframe
Systems analysts can earn approximately $25,000 to
$70,000 or more. Factors affecting earnings include the particular industry the
individual is working in, the specific employment setting, and location. Other
factors include experience, education, and responsibilities.
Generally, the more experience and education individuals
have, the higher their earnings. Salaries will be higher for individuals
working in metropolitan areas than they are for their counterparts in less
One way systems analysts can advance is by obtaining
additional education. Individuals might also seek more complex projects or
locate similar positions in more prestigious employment settings that offer
higher earnings and responsibilities.
Individuals start out as junior systems analysts. With
more experience they can become senior or lead systems analysts. Some individuals
are promoted to manager of information systems. Others become chief information
Another option is to open one's own consulting firm in
the computer field.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Some positions do not require a college degree.
However, competition is stiff in this field. If an individual does obtain a job
without a degree, advancement may be difficult.
The minimum recommended education for systems analysts
is a bachelor's degree. Some positions prefer postgraduate degrees. Required
majors for systems analysts differ from job to job. Systems analysts may have
degrees in computer science, computer information systems, data processing, or
information science. Other individuals have degrees in business management,
physical sciences, engineering, or applied mathematics with an emphasis in
No matter what the degree, systems analysts must have
courses in programming languages, computer systems, database management, and
Continuing education in the field is necessary to keep
up with new technology. Many employers sponsor classes and training programs.
In addition, software vendors, professional societies, and trade associations
offer a variety of classes, seminars, and workshops.
EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS
Computer experience is usually necessary to get a job
as a systems analyst. Individuals can obtain needed experience working as
computer engineers or programmers.
While it is not a requirement, systems analysts can be
certified by the Institute for Certification of Computer Professionals. In
order to obtain this credential, they must have at least five years' experience
and pass a number of examinations. Individuals who hold the Certified Systems
Professional (CSP) credential may be preferred for positions as it indicates
experience and professional competency. Another voluntary certification is
offered by the Quality Assurance Institute. In order to hold the designation
Certified Quality Analyst (CQA), individuals must complete certain education
and experience requirements, pass an examination, and endorse a code of ethics.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Individuals
interested in a systems analyst career can obtain additional information by
contacting the Association for Systems Management (ASM), the Association for
Computing Machinery (ACM), the Quality Assurance Institute (QAI), or the
Institute for Certification of Computer Professionals (ICCP).
Large cities often host employment agencies specializing
in computer-related positions.
Newspapers regularly advertise job openings in this
field. Look in the classified section of the paper under "Computers,"
"Systems Analyst," "Programmer Analyst," or specific
Jobs are advertised in trade journals. In addition to
computer-related trade journals, consider industry journals.
The placement offices of colleges and universities
offering degrees in computer related areas are usually notified of job
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