PROS / A systems analyst enjoys a healthy starting salary in a growing field.
CONS / Computer careers like this require additional education and on-the-job training.
VERDICT / Those who are detail oriented and technically minded can excel in this career.
A systems analyst combines knowledge of information systems and business to develop computer systems that will meet business needs. This is among the most advanced computer careers because it requires you to think strategically and to interact with professionals with a variety of skill sets. Systems analyst is the Top Ten Reviews Silver Award winner in computer careers.
The starting salary for systems analysts averages $49,950 annually, and you have the potential to earn $122,090 annually, depending on your location in the United States. The median wage for a systems analyst is $79,680. While this isn’t the highest paying IT job we reviewed, it certainly pays well enough to make a comfortable living.
If you pursue this career, you'll work with various professionals in business and computer careers to select the most optimal hardware, software, internet and networking tools that will accomplish business goals. In this profession, you need to stay within a particular budget or provide an acceptable cost-benefit over a period of time.
To do so, you will use various modeling techniques, accounting principles and business analyses. For example, to make a truly useful database, you'll need to integrate data from different departments within a company, and you should present data in a clear manner that benefits your end users. A system may be on a shared drive in a network, intranet or internet, and end users may be employees, customers or a combination of both.
The database may facilitate different security levels so that specific employees or customers may only access information or database fields to perform certain tasks. The system also needs to have the capacity to support multiple users simultaneously and enough memory to support growth over an acceptable period of time.
Systems analysts design complex systems specific to a type of business – for example a retail store. You may choose to use an existing retail system, modify a retail system, or build the system from the ground up, depending on the funding and resources available. You then work with various computer professionals, including computer programmers, to build systems. After a system has been configured, you test the system to make sure it is performing properly. Systems analysts also work with computer programmers to debug the system if it has problems.
Demand for systems analysts will continue to increase as computers are utilized for more business functions; the field is expected to grow 25 percent by the year 2022. This is the fastest growing computer career we reviewed. Presently, 520,600 individuals are employed in computer careers such as this, and 127,000 job openings are expected over the next 10 years.
These numbers represent massive opportunity in this field. If choose this career path it means that you are most likely to be hired by mid-size to large organizations that utilize complex computer systems. Such organizations include governments, insurance companies, financial institutions, business management systems, merchant wholesalers and computer systems consulting firms. States with the highest concentration of jobs in this profession include Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey and Georgia.
Systems analysts may advance to positions such as senior or lead analyst or to an executive position such as chief information officer. Those that specialize in a particular area of business and who gain considerable experience may choose to become independent consultants, which can be very lucrative.
Companies that hire systems analysts usually require applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a technology related field. You don’t necessarily have to have experience as a systems analyst to get a position as one, but it will make a difference in how much you get paid. If you want to continue your education in this particular field, there are both masters and doctoral programs specifically for system analysts. These advanced degrees make you much more competent and valuable to employers.
Systems analysts usually work in an office or laboratory, and although most work 40 hours a week, you may work more than 50 hours a week on a regular basis. You are likely to work overtime when designing a new system or when one is getting installed. You may be able to telecommute some of the time. Many of your tasks are performed alone, but you will likely work in a team environment most of the time. It is common for individuals in this profession to supervise other IT professionals such as computer programmers.
Systems analysts play an important role in merging business skills and technical know-how. Few have these skill sets, so those that do are in high demand. You may come from either a technical or a business background, but you must have expertise in the business area in which you specialize. You also need to have good communication skills and the ability to explain technical subjects to non-technical individuals in a team environment. Computer careers such as this help the business world integrate new technologies that emerge into regular business tasks and utilize adequate security measures to protect confidential data stored on a network.