How to Become a Computer Systems Analyst [2022 Guide]
Computer systems analysts help solve problems in a variety of industries. An analyst may be called upon to research trends that affect the company’s technology investments or perhaps train colleagues to use new hardware and software.
A computer systems analyst blends information technology skills with business acumen, working with fellow IT workers and others in the organization. They typically understand how their company’s business operates in order to know how to solve problems and make recommendations for technology investments. A computer systems analyst may also know about IT trends such as cloud computing and machine learning. The work may be a blend of day-to-day tasks and special projects to help operate a company’s computer systems.
Keep reading if you’d like to learn how to become a computer systems analyst.
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What Does a Computer Systems Analyst Do?
You may wonder, what does a computer systems analyst do? A computer systems analyst manages a company’s computer system and recommends upgrades and enhancements.
Computer systems analysts work closely with colleagues in other departments, supporting their IT needs. They will likely research and recommend new hardware and software, help install equipment and train new users. They may also support cybersecurity efforts to ensure the company’s digital assets are protected from attackers.
It may be beneficial for systems analysts to have excellent communication skills to understand business requirements for IT systems and translate those into specific recommendations. They may want to keep up to date on emerging technologies that could challenge traditional ways of doing things.
Analysts think analytically and may also be creative, looking for solutions to problems that might not be obvious.
Teamwork and leadership skills are also helpful for analysts, as they may work in groups that cross departmental lines. In one project, an analyst may be the leader, then on another act as a team member. The analyst may want to be able to build formal and informal networks and learn quickly about unfamiliar aspects of the business.
Common Steps to Become a Computer Systems Analyst
The typical career path begins with a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employers may consider other degrees if a person pursues related experience and education independently. Additional education may help you learn specific skills and advance your career. Management courses may also be helpful to understand the business operations of an organization.
Step 1. Earn a bachelor’s degree
The most common first step to becoming a computer systems analyst is earning a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field or business. Depending on your career goals, you may concentrate on technology-related coursework. However, employers may also look for people with business or liberal arts degrees that have also gained technical expertise. If you are interested in a particular field such as health care, it may be helpful to take related undergraduate courses to build your knowledge.
Step 2. Advance your skills
To keep pace with changes in the field, a computer systems analyst may continually hone their skills and education. Analysts may take classes throughout their careers to learn about innovative technology developments.
How you advance your skills as an analyst depends on your interests and career goals. Some analysts prepare to move along the business path, learn more about the company and the industry it’s in, and managerial and leadership skills.
For some analysts, the technical side may be more appealing. They would then concentrate on developing technical skills and learning how new software and hardware can benefit their company. Some may advance deeper into software coding, creating customized tools for their organization.
Enrolling in cybersecurity bootcamps, coding bootcamps, cybersecurity online courses, or other online IT courses may help you prepare to become a computer systems analyst. Bootcamps and courses concentrate on the latest technology and tools, providing real-world skills a computer systems analyst can use.
A bootcamp is a relatively brief, concentrated learning experience that focuses on a particular aspect of the field. The goal is to equip you with the skills and knowledge to advance your career. A cybersecurity bootcamp or coding bootcamp may help prepare you for opportunities in analyzing computer systems.
Because a bootcamp is an accelerated learning environment, it may be useful to understand the fundamental concepts or take preparation classes before you start. The learning is based on hands-on projects with the latest software. Group projects may also be a part of the curriculum, reflecting the fact that computer systems analysts often work as part of a team.
Bootcamps are available in part-time and full-time formats. An online bootcamp allows you to learn while accommodating your schedule.
Step 3. Get your first job as a computer systems analyst
A first job affords graduates an opportunity to put the things they learned in school into practice. Crafting a compelling resume, honing interview skills and networking are common strategies for landing your first job as a computer systems analyst.
Like many careers, a computer systems analyst position may include on-the-job experience as well as education. A new graduate of a computer science or information systems program may find an entry-level job to learn about the company, hone technical skills and gain leadership experience. It’s important to make the most of these learning opportunities in your first job to position yourself for advancement.
Depending on your area of specialization, you may want to consider certifications to help demonstrate your knowledge to potential employers.
Adding certifications and advanced degrees may help boost the computer systems analyst salary beyond the base level. The Global Knowledge 2020 IT Skills and Salary Report revealed that IT professionals who gained new skills or added a certification received an average raise of $12,000-$13,000. Organizations recognize the value of computer systems analysts who are proactive in developing their skills and professionalism.
Step 4. Earn a Master’s Degree
Additional education may help you learn specific skills and advance your career. You may take advantage of online degrees at both the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels. These courses offer flexibility in your schedule and location.
If you want to consider a master’s degree in an advanced field, there are online master’s in cybersecurity and online master’s in computer science programs available as well as online masters in information systems.
According to BLS, master’s in computer science may help you become a computer systems analyst with an in-demand skill set.
Some organizations may place a high value on a computer systems analyst with an advanced degree that demonstrates their commitment to their field. There are a number of courses to fit your career goals, budget and timeline.
An online master’s in computer science covers a variety of topics. On the technical side, you may learn about software development and computer architecture. Depending on the degree you choose, you may specialize in business or cybersecurity, learning about the tradeoffs between security and operations.
An online master’s degree in computer science will typically include required and elective courses. Your choice of electives may help you specialize your master’s to support your career goals.
Other related advanced degrees include a Master of Science in Software Development or a Master of Business Administration in Information Technology. In considering programs, compare their length, full- or part-time options, and online vs. on-campus formats that fit your lifestyle.
Computer Systems Analyst Salary and Job Outlook
Computer systems analysts work in a variety of settings including government agencies and nonprofit organizations as well as for-profit companies.
Job growth for computer systems analysts is driven by many factors, such as the adoption of cloud computing, increasing cybersecurity threats, and the adoption of technology in healthcare and other industry sectors.
The number of computer systems analyst jobs is expected to increase 7% through 2030, 1% slower than the average for all occupations, according to the BLS. The outlook for jobs in the healthcare industry is particularly strong with the adoption of electronic medical records and other types of healthcare IT.
The median computer systems analyst salary was $93,730 in May 2020, according to the BLS, reflecting high demand across the nation. Salaries ranged from $56,510 to more than $152,060 for top earners in the field. Most computer systems analysts work full-time, and some may work more than 40 hours per week, depending on the organization’s needs.
Last updated: April 2022