Systems analysts solve computer problems and enable computer technology to meet individual needs of an organization. They help an organization realize the maximum benefit from its investment in equipment, personnel, and business processes. This process may include planning and developing new computer systems or devising ways to apply existing systems’ resources to additional operations. Systems analysts may design new systems, including both hardware and software, or add a new software application to harness more of the computer’s power. Most systems analysts work with a specific type of system that varies with the type of organization they work for. For example, business, accounting or financial systems, or scientific and engineering systems.
Computer systems analysts, engineers, and scientists must be able to think logically and have good communication skills. They often deal with a number of tasks simultaneously; the ability to concentrate and pay close attention to detail is important. Although computer specialists sometimes work independently, they often work in teams on large projects. They must be able to communicate effectively with computer personnel, such as programmers and managers, as well as with users or other staff who may have no technical computer background.
For systems analyst, programmer-analyst, or even database administrator positions, many employers seek applicants who have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information science, or management information systems (MIS). Management information systems programs are usually part of the business school or college. These programs differ considerably from computer science programs, emphasizing business and management oriented coursework and business computing courses.
Computer systems analysts, engineers and other computer scientists normally work in offices or laboratories in comfortable surroundings. They usually work about 40 hours a week—the same as many other professional or office workers. However, evening or weekend work may be necessary to meet deadlines or solve specific problems. Given the technology available today, telecommuting is common for computer professionals. As networks expand, more work, including technical support, can be done from remote locations using modems, laptops, electronic mail, and the Internet. For example, it is possible for technical personnel, such as computer support specialists, to connect to a customer’s computer remotely to identify and fix problems.
Median annual earnings of computer systems analysts were $52,180 in 1998. The middle 50 percent earned between $40,570 and $74,180 a year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,470 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $87,810. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of computer systems analysts in 1997 were:
Computer and data processing services
State government, except education and hospitals
Colleges and universities
Computer systems analysts, engineers, and scientists are expected to be the fastest growing occupations through 2008. Employment of computing professionals is expected to increase much faster than average as technology becomes more sophisticated and organizations continue to adopt and integrate these technologies. Growth will be driven by very rapid growth in computer and data processing services, which is projected to be the fastest growing industry in the U.S. economy. In addition, thousands of job openings will arise annually from the need to replace workers who move into managerial positions or other occupations or who leave the labor force.
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