Systems Analyst Job Description and Responsibilities

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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 efficiently.

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 met.

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES

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

Expanding 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.

EARNINGS

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 urban areas.

ADVANCEMENT OPPORTUNITIES

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 officers.

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 computer science.

No matter what the degree, systems analysts must have courses in programming languages, computer systems, database management, and computer sciences.

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).

TIPS

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 industry names.

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 openings.

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