All types of businesses and organizations rely on technology for day-to-day operations and to further their growth initiatives. From libraries to hospitals to local retail stores, technology is crucial for virtually all aspects of an organization’s operations. This heavy reliance on technology creates exciting career opportunities for those who are passionate about the field.
If you enjoy working with computers and have skills with SQL and Microsoft office programs and are gifted with administering IT systems, you might consider pursuing a role as a computer systems analyst. What does a computer systems analyst do and what is the typical computer systems analyst career path? Get the detailed answers here and begin planning your own pathway.
The Role of a Computer Systems Analyst
It stands to reason that a computer systems analyst would spend their days working with computers. Yet, what these professionals really do is help an organization achieve its goals and long-term growth objectives. They accomplish this by determining how to improve the company’s technology in a way that optimizes its organizational efficiency and helps its employees become more productive or effective.
The typical daily tasks of a computer systems analyst depend on their employer and the particular needs of the organization. In general, however, these professionals might do any of the following:
- Evaluate the organization’s technological systems and procedures, and consult with departmental managers and executives to assess how technology is used within the organization
- Optimize the organization’s current technology, such as by upgrading it to add new features and greater functionality
- Research new technologies to identify those that could help the organization become more efficient while achieving its objectives
- Create cost-benefit analyses to enable executives to make purchasing decisions regarding new technological platforms and systems
- Consult with clients and colleagues to best serve and address issues
- Install and configure new hardware and software, and test the new technology to ensure it works properly
- Train staff members on the usage of new technology and write tutorials
Some computer systems analysts may specialize in the technology used in a particular field. The specialization options include financial information technology (IT) and healthcare IT.
Other professionals may specialize according to their preferred tasks. For instance, software quality assurance analysts specialize in testing and diagnosing technical glitches.
There is also room for upward mobility in this profession. After acquiring extensive work experience, a computer systems analyst might pursue a role as an IT project manager. IT project managers may oversee other computer systems analysts and manage the lifecycle of a technology project from start to finish.
Preparing for a Computer Systems Analyst Career Path in High School
If the answer to the question, “What does a computer systems analyst do?” appeals to you, then you can get started working on your computer systems analyst career path. If you’re still in high school, talk to your guidance counselor about your career aspirations. See if you can adjust your course schedule to include more courses that will help you prepare for your career.
Some high schools offer classes in computer applications, programming and network technology. Keep in mind, however, that IT-related courses aren’t the only ones that are essential for an aspiring analyst. Since the primary goal of a computer systems analyst is to support an organization’s objectives and daily operations, you’ll also want to take business classes, if available.
Since this profession requires strong communication, collaboration and interpersonal skills, humanities classes are recommended. In addition to the four years of English classes you’ll take in high school, consider taking a communications course. Beyond the classroom, you can bolster your college applications by looking for:
- Relevant job shadowing opportunities
- Extracurricular activities
Computer systems analysts are generally expected to have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject. It’s common for these professionals to have an academic background in computer science, programming or IT. However, don’t forget about the importance of business knowledge as well.
Consider looking for a degree option that emphasizes both business competencies and technology skills. One such example is a Bachelor of Science in Applied Business Information Systems, which blends together both fields to produce well-rounded graduates.
Earning Your Business Information Systems Degree
If you decide to earn a business information systems degree in pursuit of your career as a computer systems analyst, you can expect a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on learning experiences. You will learn how to install and optimize technology in support of an organization’s initiatives and objectives. The specific curriculum will vary depending on the school, but in general, you can expect to study topics such as the following:
- Fundamentals of IT networks, including how to install, configure and optimize local and enterprise networks
- IT project management, with a look at outsourcing, the management of IT teams and risk mitigation
- The administration and maintenance of operating systems, software applications and computer architecture
- The design, implementation and maintenance of relational database structures
- Object-oriented programming, including how to design, develop, run and debug software applications
Any well-rounded business information systems degree should also explore timely topics in IT governance and ethics.
Should You Pursue a Master’s Degree?
It’s not mandatory to earn a master’s degree in order to become a computer systems analyst. However, at some point during your career, you may decide to go back to school. Earning a master’s degree can enable you to pursue supervisory roles and other higher-level jobs.
The specific type of master’s degree you could earn is fairly flexible. For example, some employers prefer to hire or promote individuals who possess a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in IT. However, if you’re pursuing a role that involves a heavy emphasis on technical skill, it may be best to explore a master’s degree in computer science or IT.
Essential Skills and Characteristics for an Aspiring Computer Systems Analyst
If you’re determined to pursue the computer systems analyst career path, then it will be helpful to work on cultivating the skills and characteristics that enable these professionals to be effective in the workplace. Of course, these technology experts need IT-related skills, such as programming knowledge and the ability to design and implement computer systems. However, the following skills and qualities are also important:
- Analytical reasoning
- Communication skills
- Out-of-the-box thinking and problem solving
- Knowledge of different computer programs
- Teamwork and collaboration
- Strong reading comprehension
A passion for lifelong learning is also essential, as computer systems analysts must stay on top of emerging technologies.
Are Computer Systems Analysts in Demand?
In addition to considering the answer to the question, “What does a computer systems analyst do?” while you’re planning your future career, it can be helpful to take a look at the job growth projections. The tech field is indeed experiencing strong growth right now. This growth is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates a growth rate for computer systems analysts of about 7% from 2019 to 2029, faster than average, accounting for an estimated increase of 46,600 jobs in the field.1
This job growth is partially attributable to the increasing reliance on IT by companies and other organizations of all sizes. In particular, job openings are expected to be robust at IT consulting firms. Healthcare IT is poised for significant growth, as technology continues to play an increasing role in the coordination, tracking and delivery of healthcare services.
You can pursue your passion for technology when you become a student at Grand Canyon University — an accredited Christian school with both on-campus and online courses. Apply today for enrollment in the Bachelor of Science in Applied Business Information Systems degree program, which includes hands-on learning experiences in real-world contexts. Click on the “Request Info” button above to learn about our business information systems degree.
1COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on September 2019, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer Systems Analysts, retrieved on 07/13/2021.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.