What Does a Computer Systems Analyst Do? (With Key Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 2, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Computer system analysts examine organizational goals and develop systems or programs to meet them effectively. They combine business and information technology expertise to update systems. Understanding the role of a computer systems analyst in innovating efficient technology among other IT careers can help you decide on a career path. In this article, we answer the question "What does a computer systems analyst do?", explore how to become one, consider essential skills to their role, detail their national average salary, and provide an example of a job description you can expect to see for this role.

What does a computer systems analyst do?

If you're wondering, "What does a computer systems analyst do?", they're information technology professionals who evaluate businesses and modify technology to realize company objectives. Their innovations may involve updating existing business technology and designing custom solutions directed to their client's goals. They complete analyses, reviews, recommendations, and reports to help their clients realize their business objectives. Analysts are vital to companies and industries looking to maintain their competitive advantage through innovation and efficient systems. They also troubleshoot computer systems to pinpoint deficient areas in their applications, systems, networks, and databases.

Computer systems analysts often collaborate with quality assurance teams, user experience designers, computer programmers, and clients to build computer systems that best serve their objectives. They typically specialize in industry-specific media, financial, or manufacturing systems. These analysts also document the performance of existing computer systems, project the performance of future ones, and prepare cost analysis reports for system upgrades and present them to company executives. In some cases, they train computer system end-users and provide them with instruction manuals.

Related: 18 High-Paying IT Jobs (With Salaries and Responsibilities)

Types of computer systems analysts

Computer systems analysts are typically experts in different aspects of information technology, and each may choose one of the following specializations:

System designers or architects

System designers analyze their client's long-term needs and goals and provide the most effective combination of IT components to realize them. They explore how to achieve business objectives through products, processes, and functions and decide on the best architecture to realize the outlined components. This relates closely to service design and involves decisions about IT strategy, framework, software, and hardware.

Software quality assurance analysts

These professionals analyze a software's development data to help ensure the accuracy of software packages. This involves developing automation tests, maintenance protocols, and various troubleshooting applications to keep software error-free. Their responsibilities include creating and reviewing quality assurance systems and ensuring application coding meets industry standards.

Programmer analysts

Programmer analysts design information systems and write the application programs that operate within these systems. Their role usually combines the responsibilities of a computer programmer and a systems analyst. They work to create new software and troubleshoot, update, and educate end-users about existing programs to meet changing client demands.

How to become a computer systems analyst

If you're interested in a career as a computer systems analyst, here are the steps to take:

1. Pursue an education

A bachelor's in computer science or a related field is the minimum requirement for a career as a computer systems analyst. A bachelor's in information science or management information systems is typically a good undergraduate basis for this career. If you've started a bachelor's in an unrelated field, you can take courses from related departments to supplement your knowledge. Relevant courses include mathematics, computer engineering, and science.

2. Acquire certifications

Graduate degrees, online programs, and professional certifications are often reliable ways to expand your professional knowledge and advance your career. They can also help you specialize in this field while increasing your competitive advantage and distinguishing you from other candidates. Some important certifications for this career include CompTIA A+, CompTIA CASP+, CompTIA CySA+, and CompTIA Security+.

3. Get industry-related job experience

When selecting individuals for the role of computer systems analyst, clients and employers usually choose candidates with substantial experience. As a result, getting industry-related experience in technology, business, information management, or computer science can improve your chances. Completing undergraduate or graduate internships can offer this kind of training. You may contact your career advisor for internship options during your program, or apply directly to organizations offering internship placements.

4. Update your resume and start applying

After completing your bachelor's degree, acquiring additional certifications, and getting the requisite experience, you can update your resume to reflect your skills and experience. A well-written resume is an opportunity to introduce yourself to a potential employer and outline your compatibility with the job. Your resume may include your education, work experience in reverse date order, professional licenses and certifications, skills, and contact details. You can search locally to identify job openings and compare requirements before applying for your preferred jobs.

Related: Guide to Writing a Professional CV

Essential skills for a computer systems analyst

These skills may be essential to your success as a computer systems analyst:

Analytical skills

The duties of analysts typically involve compiling data, analyzing information and metrics to solve problems, and making informed decisions. Analytical skills involve assessing situations critically to understand them and making practical and appropriate decisions. These vital skills can also help you improve systems, innovate solutions, and strategize solutions to your client's challenges. Research, data analysis, communication, critical thinking, and decision-making are all important associated skills.

Technical skills

Technical skills allow computer analysts to perform technological and physical tasks, such as maintaining physical equipment and customizing digital tools. Having notable technical skills or technical ability is critical to your success and can help distinguish you from others in your field. These technical skills can include programming, coding, data analysis and management, equipment management, project management, and digital marketing.

Related: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples

Creative thinking skills

Although analysts often collaborate with other professionals to realize their innovation and recommendations, they also work and think independently. Strong creative thinking skills can help you innovate resilient systems, experiment with new ideas, and improve your decision-making and problem-solving processes. Associated skills can include observation, analysis, communication, brainstorming, networking, experimenting, and open-mindedness.

Related: 7 Steps to Improve Your Creative Thinking Skills

Observational skills

Innovating efficient systems for your clients can involve paying attention to details, making error-free analyses, and observing nuances between trends. Maintaining high levels of attentiveness can increase your productivity by focusing your cognitive resources on tasks and projects. These skills can also allow you to gauge the reception of your strategies as you eliminate errors and assess projects thoroughly.

Communication skills

Understanding your client's demands and providing solutions to them requires strong communication skills to facilitate the exchange of information. These skills include written, verbal, and non-verbal communication, which comprises active listening, electronic communication, and body language. Improving your communication skills can help you nurture your professional relationships, interact effectively with clients and colleagues, and advance your career.

Organization skills

Analysts often handle multiple projects, evaluating the efficiency of systems, innovating solutions, and designing new systems. Organizational skills are important in using your time efficiently, meeting deadlines, and maintaining high productivity levels. These skills can make it easier to adjust priorities, set goals, and allot the appropriate amount of time for each task.

The work environment of a computer systems analyst

While analysts work in various industries as independent contractors or directly with organizations and have varying responsibilities, they often have similar working environments. Working as an analyst usually involves full-time engagements, long working hours, and sitting at screens for extended periods. The demands of a client or project can significantly influence your working hours and travel plans. Computer systems analysts work in a fast-paced environment where they're responsible for the continued functionality of computer systems.

Choosing this career provides many opportunities for growth and specialization, as analysts often learn from their jobs. They also receive training and can pursue certifications that improve their knowledge of hardware and software systems. As a computer systems analyst, you can work in technology, finance, media, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, insurance, or consultancy.

The average salary of a computer systems analyst

The salary employers offer for this position varies according to your experience, expertise, and location. The national average annual salary of a computer systems analyst is $68,353 per year. Some cities pay their analysts higher than others, and salaries can vary even within provinces. For example, the average annual salary of a systems analyst in Scarborough, Ontario, is $96,563, while the salary in Toronto, Ontario, is $75,898, and in Edmonton, Alberta, it's $85,527.

Example of a computer systems analyst's job description

Here is an example of a call for employment describing the job of an analyst:

Yellow Gravel Consultants is seeking an experienced computer systems analyst to join its IT department. Analysts have the responsibility of researching hardware and software options and deciding which can most improve the company's functionality. They also manage the network's support and maintenance, its hardware and software components, and project design and execution. Their duties extend to overseeing technical training for all end-users and acting as a project lead under the supervision of the IT director.

The position requires a bachelor's degree in computer science or any related field and a minimum of three years of working experience in an IT department. An ideal candidate has strong attention to detail, can work independently, and has strong written and verbal communication skills.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.

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