How Do I Become a Systems Analyst?

If you love working with computers and enjoy the challenge of analyzing problems and developing creative solutions, you might wonder how to become a systems analyst. Businesses in many industries rely on computers more now than ever for attracting customers, managing day-to-day operations and developing new products, services or marketing campaigns. To use computer technology in the most effective way possible, they hire systems analysts, professionals who are both skilled in computers and well-versed in business practices.

Systems analysts are sometimes referred to as computer systems analysts. They form the bridge between business leaders and strategists, who understand the company’s computer goals but not necessarily how to achieve them, and the information technology (IT) department which possesses the necessary technical skills. As the name implies, these professionals must analyze computer software, hardware, memory capacity and other systems currently at work and determine how to improve their usage so that the company can reach its goals.

Systems analysts explore alternatives to current technology and try to determine how they can make the company’s use of technology provide the greatest return on investment. They may optimize software that is currently being used by altering its settings to provide the services that the business finds most useful. If necessary, systems analysts may locate new software that can fit the company’s needs better and assist with the installation and transition to that new software. Sometimes these professionals are called upon to modify software themselves or create new systems themselves. Systems analysts are also responsible for maintaining the computer systems by performing periodic tests and instructing new users on how to operate the systems.

Because systems analysts work so extensively with computers, computer skills are a must for this occupation. Some candidates develop these abilities by earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology or information science. Others take enough computer programming classes to develop proficiency in the application of principles while pursuing a business major or another course of study. The exact educational requirements for a systems analyst position vary by employer, some of whom seek candidates with graduate-level degrees while others will consider a prospective employee with only an associate’s degree but extensive experience in the field.

Computer systems analysts earned a median salary of $83,800 per year as of 2012, somewhat more than the $80,180 median annual salary for all computer and mathematics occupations, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Systems analysts can also expect a positive job outlook, as the BLS anticipates a 22 percent increase in job opportunities in this profession between 2010 and 2012. This outlook is brighter than that of all occupations, where only a 14 percent growth rate is expected. Do you have smart business sense, superior computer skills and a drive to combine the two talents to boost a company’s productivity? If so, knowing how to become a systems analyst might be the start to a satisfying, well-paying career in a rapidly growing field.

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