What is a Computer Systems Analyst?

Rachel Burkot

Computer systems analysts use computer technology to meet the needs of a company or organization. Since businesses rely on the most up-to-date information systems for operating most efficiently, a computer systems analyst is the person responsible for incorporating these technologies with the company’s business plan and procedures. The work of a computer systems analyst is constantly varied as he or she strives to stay current in the technological arena.

A computer systems analyst typically begins an assignment by consulting with the managers at a company to define the goals of the system.
A computer systems analyst typically begins an assignment by consulting with the managers at a company to define the goals of the system.

Typical computer systems analyst jobs include solving computer problems, developing new computer systems, configuring a computer’s hardware and software and coming up with ways to apply technological resources to a company’s methods. A computer system analyst usually works with one system, depending on the industry of the corporation for which he or she works. Business, financial, scientific or engineering systems can all be used by an analyst to meet the needs of the company. The analysts who pick out the proper software for the company are referred to as system architects. Those who invent and maintain the systems are called system designers.

A computer systems analyst may be tasked with configuring hardware.
A computer systems analyst may be tasked with configuring hardware.

A computer systems analyst will typically begin an assignment by consulting with managers at the company to define the goals of the system in conjunction with the needs of the corporation. The analyst will then design the system, giving consideration to the inputs that will be accessed and processed and the output that must be formulated around the goal of the system. Structured analysis, data modeling, information engineering, mathematical configuration and cost accounting are all different stages of a system project that the analyst will go through. Depending on the size of the companies, it may also be the responsibility of computer system analysts to prepare financial plans for the systems.

A bachelor's degree in computer science is required to become a computer systems analyst.
A bachelor's degree in computer science is required to become a computer systems analyst.

Tasks that will typically fall under a computer systems analyst description include updating old computer systems for new tasks, networking systems so they can communicate with other computers and testing or debugging new systems before they are used by the company. Besides managers, a computer systems analyst will work with other information technology representatives, including programmers, software engineers and network security specialists. Analysts who perform more in-depth testing of computer systems are called software quality assurance analysts. After running initial tests, their tasks also include ensuring program requirements were met, diagnosing computer or software problems and finding solutions.

A job as a computer systems analyst requires at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. Analysts must also possess proficiency with computers, strong analytical, problem-solving and communication skills, and some understanding of finances. Analysts typically work 40 hours per week, although some overtime may be required to solve a specific problem or to complete a project on tight deadline.

Strong analytical skills and computer proficiency is generally required to become a computer systems analyst.
Strong analytical skills and computer proficiency is generally required to become a computer systems analyst.

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Discussion Comments

MrMoody

@Charred - I hear that Unix systems analysts are as good as gold in the IT career field. Fewer people know Unix than Windows, so organizations that build their backbone on Unix servers treat their systems analysts like VIPs.

miriam98

@Charred - The information sytems analyst does enjoy job security, but with that security come extra responsibilities and a load of stress. If the network goes down, the systems analyst who is responsible for configuring the network will be called upon to step in.

There are no regular work hours here. If you need to work late into the night--or even into the weekends--to get things up and running, then that’s what you’ve got to do. Of course, the pay is good for all this extra stress, but the stress will still be there. It’s something to think about.

Charred

While all I.T. jobs enjoy a certain measure of job security, I’d be willing to bet that the business system analyst holds a bit of an edge over your regular programmer or programmer analyst. I worked at a big Fortune 500 company that went through a wave of layoffs. They even slashed I.T., with a lot of programmers losing their jobs.

However, not a single systems analyst got cut. I think it’s easy to see why. They don’t just write programs, they basically build the information technology infrastructure that a business needs to run. Corporate networks, email, servers, databases, security—all of these things have to be in place for a corporation to keep operating efficiently.

I have often thought about becoming a system analyst myself for that reason, but I still prefer the extra creativity that comes with programming. Still, you can’t beat the security.

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