If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This is one cliché that barely ever works, and it especially never works when it comes to computer systems. If you would like a job where you keep computers healthy and users happy, consider becoming a systems analyst. How do you do that? Read on.
A systems analyst has two major job responsibilities, which includes understanding the various processes involved in a business and how computers can be used to optimize these business processes.
This requires them to collaborate with the information technology manager on a continuous basis. The two together decide:
- Cost effective options for systems upgrades available to the company.
- Identify suitable technologies to augment the efficiency of work.
In addition to the above, the systems analyst may be required to undertake new system design and implementation responsibilities, provide training to users, and modify software and hardware configurations to meet the existing work demands.
Basic requirements to get a job as a systems analyst
The basic eligibility criteria to secure a job in this field will usually include:
- Education — A bachelor’s degree in computer science is ideal. A Master of Business Administration (MBA), focused on Information Systems will be considered a plus point (the University of Phoenix has an excellent MBA program — online or in the classroom, your choice).
- Experience — Work experience ranging from 3-5 years in computers could also be a prerequisite for this position.
Somebody with a combination of both education and experience can expect to move to the role of computer systems analyst with ease.
Anyone looking to pursue a career as a systems analyst should possess skills such as:
- Ability to read and understand technical documents.
- Ability to apply knowledge in critical situations.
- Ability to address and resolve complex issues.
- Out of the box thinking.
- Working in teams.
- Basic programming knowledge.
- Ability to analyze and evaluate systems.
Becoming a system analyst — a step by step guide
Get a bachelor’s degree
Computer Information Systems degree programs aim to prepare students for a system analyst’s job. Their curriculum typically includes topics related to:
- Workflow processes in businesses.
- Automation/integration of businesses.
- Project and data management.
- Database design and management.
- Design and development of web applications.
- Programming (for example, Java).
- Business Information Systems (BIS).
- System analysis.
- Marketing/financial management.
Take up an internship
To maximize the benefits of the bachelor’s degree a student can pursue an internship with an IT company. Internships are an integral part of most degree programs. Internships will offer:
- Hands on experience and an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in class.
- Opportunity to network and land a job offer.
Pursue a minor
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, to work in certain fields, specific training in that domain is mandatory. To work in health care, for example, one might need to be acquainted with practices in the industry. Based on the industry someone prefers to work in, a minor in that field can help secure a job more easily.
Acquire work experience
System analyst positions are common in the public sector, independent businesses, and the health-care arena. Most companies require five years of related experience along with a bachelor’s degree. Some may treat college credits as experience.
Colleges offer specialized courses in specific technologies and management practices as part of their continuing education programs. With the rapidly changing business environment, these kinds of upgrades have become vital for career progressions.
Consider obtaining more education
Options for post-baccalaureate courses include:
- Master’s degree.
- Certificate courses in computer information systems.
Through these courses, one can learn deeper aspects of:
- System analysis and integration.
- DBMS (database management systems).
- AI (artificial intelligence).
- Digital image processing.
- Network administration.
- Web servers.
- Information systems — consulting and project management.
As per the BLS researchers, having an advanced degree could help in fulfilling the demands of senior roles in system analysis which are technically more complex.
Their key result areas would be to study the existing system and processes and implement improvements to increase operational efficiency of the company.
Technology toolkit of a systems analyst
A systems analyst’s skills fall into two categories:
- Technology skills.
- Business skills.
Their aim is to streamline systems and processes so that the employees, business processes, and computers integrate seamlessly. For this purpose, a computer system analyst must be conversant in the following technologies:
- Oracle — the world’s leading DBMS.
- SQL (structured query language) — used to retrieve data from databases (soon this type of language will be taught in high schools).
- UNIX — a vintage multiuser, operating system invented in the 1960s.
- Linux — an open source version of UNIX.
- Java — a popular platform used to develop and host software applications in servers and desktops.
Since the system analyst is expected to integrate technology and the business processes, a good understanding of both is essential to excel in the job. The functions of a computer system analyst could include:
- Reviewing data processing indicators to improve the efficiency of computer systems.
- Improve ease of data sharing by optimizing system compatibility.
- Determining the ideal hardware configuration for each user.
- Interacting with senior management to identify the business’s IT goals.
How much does the job pay?
An analysis of BLS’s May 2016 salary data for systems analysts showed:
- Average annual salary earned was $87,220.
- The bottom 10 percent earned approximately $53,110 annually.
- The top 10 percent made at least $137,690 annually. This was probably in major cities where it is expensive to live in and for those who had more to offer the organization.
The industries where the role was in maximum demand in 2016 included:
- Computer system and design sector.
- Financial services and insurance.
- Information technology.
- Government (both state and local).
The BLS reported that jobs for computer system analysts were expected to grow at 21 percent per year for the next seven years.
This rate is well above the average rate of growth of all other occupations. The ever-increasing dependence on technology is driving organizations to increase the number of computer systems analysts in their ranks.
They are now required to design, develop, and implement technology solutions to improve the efficiency of business operations. Related fields such as data warehousing and data administration are also predicted to show a spike in hiring.
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