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Systems Analyst

What is this job like?

Systems analysts figure out how to use computers to get things done. They tell businesses and other organizations which computers and software to buy, and they decide how to get those tools to work together.

Computer systems analysts start their work by asking people what they need their computers to do. Then, they plan a computer system that can do those tasks well. A system can include many computers working together and different types of software and other tools.

After analysts understand what the system needs to do, they break down the task into small steps. They draw diagrams and charts to show how information will get into the computers, how that information will be processed, and how it will get to the people who need it. For example, analysts might decide how sales information will get into a store's computers and how the computer will add up the information in a way that makes it useful for store managers.

Analysts experiment with different computer system plans. They try various tools and steps until they find the system that is fastest, easiest, and costs the least.

Next, analysts decide which computers, software, and tools to buy. They also tell computer programmers how to make any new software that is needed. They give the programmers step-by-step instructions. Some analysts help make the software, too.

The main job for some systems analysts is getting computers to work together. They connect them into a network. Analysts decide how to get information from one computer to another. Many help people get data from the Internet.

After planning a system, analysts test it to make sure it works. They check to make sure that information is processed quickly and without mistakes. They also watch to see if the system is easy to use. Often, they have to change their plans to make the systems better.

Computer systems analysts work in offices or computer labs. Some work from home. Working on a computer for a long time can give these workers eye, back, or wrist problems.

Sometimes, these workers work long hours to get a project done on time.

Analysts usually work as part of a team.


How do you get ready?

Many computer systems analysts have a college degree in computer science, information science, or management information systems. Some analysts get college degrees in other subjects. Then, they take computer classes and get computer experience.

Analysts need to understand computers, math, and planning. They need to know math so that they can solve problems and figure out how much computer power different systems would use.

Logical thinking skills are also important. Analysts need good speaking and writing skills, too, so that they can explain their systems and give good instructions.

How many jobs are there?

In 2008, there were 532,000 computer systems analysts. Many worked for computer consulting companies. Others were self-employed. They often moved from place to place working on different projects.

Analysts also worked for governments, universities, Internet companies, and financial institutions.What about the future?

The number of computer systems analysts is expected to grow much faster than average through the year 2018.

People with proper training should have good job prospects. Those who have college degrees in business and courses related to computers also should be able to find jobs in this field.

New jobs are expected as more companies try to use computers to improve their businesses. New Internet and wireless technologies are also expected to create more jobs.


How much does this job pay?

In May 2008, average yearly wages for computer systems analysts were $78,830.

Are there other jobs like this?

These workers solve computer problems:

Computer and information systems managers

Computer programmers

Computer software engineers

These workers develop plans and solve business problems:

Electrical engineers

Financial analysts

Management analysts

Mathematicians

Operations research analysts

Statisticians

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