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Systems Analyst Career Guide

Systems analysts deploy, maintain, and support IT systems. They create and analyze tests, and develop specifications and requirements for developers and programmers to follow. They collect data, observe workflows, and monitor systems to identify vulnerabilities or areas of improvement. System analysts deploy new systems and procedures and troubleshoot system, application, and hardware issues.

Do you enjoy working with computers? If you’re already an expert at troubleshooting and analyzing problems, a systems analyst position could be the perfect fit. 

Sample job description

We are looking for a detail-oriented systems analyst to optimize our procedures. You will be contributing to planning, preparing reports, and implementing best practices. [Your Company Name] needs someone who is a self-starter that can identify, analyze, and solve technical issues quickly, communicate effectively, and collaborate well with team members. As an ideal candidate, you have an in-depth knowledge of IT systems and solutions, an analytical mind, and are an exceptional problem solver. Your communication skills are impressive, and you possess the ability to explain technical solutions to a non-technical audience.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Implement, monitor, maintain, and upgrade internal and external systems
  • Troubleshoot application, hardware, endpoint, and database issues
  • Provide end-user support
  • Provide project management for designing new products, programming, and testing 
  • Develop, analyze, prioritize, and organize requirement specifications, data mapping, diagrams, and flowcharts for developers and testers to follow
  • Translate highly technical specifications into clear, non-technical requirements
  • Configure systems
  • Test systems for overall quality assurance and validate results
  • Document processes and training procedures
  • Develop and implement maintenance procedures, monitor system health, gather system statistics, and troubleshoot reported errors and alarms
  • Perform system upgrades to meet the business and user needs
  • Implement best practices for scalability, supportability, ease of maintenance, and system performance

Education and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or computer information systems, or equivalent experience
  • 4-6 years experience working with information technologies and systems analysis

Required skills and qualifications

  • Strong computer hardware, software, and analytical skills
  • Proven ability to assess business needs and translate them into relevant solutions
  • High level of understanding and knowledge of the principles and practices associated with database maintenance and administration
  • Experience installing, configuring, documenting, testing, training, and implementing new applications and systems
  • Working knowledge of a wide variety of programming languages
  • Excellent analytical skills

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience with advanced computer installation, configuration, and/or networking principles and techniques
  • Working knowledge of various operating systems
  • Experience managing and utilizing databases
  • Strong project management skills
  • Ability to communicate technical information to a non-technical audience
  • Experience in software design, documentation, testing, and troubleshooting

Typical work environment

Systems analysts generally work in office environments and typically sit in front of a computer for long periods. They might spend their day running tests, interpreting data, implementing or upgrading systems and applications, meeting with internal and external stakeholders to determine computing needs, and troubleshooting system issues and failures. They also might make determinations on hardware needs based on cost and potential benefit to the company.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a systems analyst are 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Some systems analysts work overtime and weekends to meet deadlines and assist in crises such as system outages.

Available certifications

The role of a systems analyst is diverse and evolving, and many certifications are available to help you stand out from your peers. Here are some top certifications for systems analysts: 

  • CompTIA Linux+ Certification. The CompTIA Linux+ credential shows your knowledge of Linux in managing servers, cloud services, cybersecurity, mobile, and web administration applications. Candidates must pass one exam for certification. The exam covers tasks associated with all major distributions of Linux, including the Linux command line, basic maintenance, installing and configuring workstations, and networking. The certification is good for three years. 
  • Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC). The CRISC focuses on enterprise IT risk management based on the latest work practices and knowledge to help certification holders stay ahead of the game in tackling real-world threats in today’s business world. The CRISC confirms your experience in creating a well-defined, agile risk-management program utilizing best practices to identify, analyze, prioritize, and resolve risks. Certification is good for twelve months.
  • CompTIA A+ Certification. The CompTIA A+ certification is designed to help professionals land entry-level positions in IT by ensuring that they know the basics of working with hardware, networks, and computer systems. The CompTIA A+ is composed of two exams that test your knowledge of operating systems, data, security, networking, hardware, and help desk services.

Career path

Those aspiring to become systems analysts should have an aptitude for and desire to work with computers. Next, obtain a bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science, or a related field. It’s always beneficial to achieve certification from an accredited institution. CompTIA, Linux Academy, Microsoft, and Cisco are all outstanding sources for certifications and continuing education in the IT field. Sharpen your analytical and technical skills through on-the-job training. Develop excellent written and verbal communication skills as well. 

Systems analysts work in many different industries, such as in government, private corporations, and non-profit organizations. The career path might lead them to become database administrators, computer network architects, computer programmers, information security analysts, software developers, or IT Managers.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 15-1121

2020 Employment607,800
Projected Employment in 2030650,600
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 7% Increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift42,800 Increase

As technology evolves at a blistering pace, systems analysts will have to be constantly learning to keep up. One of the latest trends in IT is edge computing. This technology is emerging as the next-level solution over cloud computing. Edge computing bypasses the latency associated with cloud computing, increasing the speed at which users retrieve data. Another trend is quantum computing, which enhances the ability to query, monitor, analyze, and act on data. This is especially useful in fields such as banking and finance to manage credit risk and improve fraud detection. Cyber security has been around for a while, but it is evolving quickly to handle the constant barrage of new threats by hackers trying to illegally access data. As a result, the number of cyber security jobs in the US is growing three times faster than other IT jobs.