Computer systems analysts, sometimes called systems architects, study an organization’s current computer systems and procedures, and design solutions to help the organization operate more efficiently and effectively. They bring business and information technology (IT) together by understanding the needs and limitations of both.

Duties

Computer systems analysts typically do the following:

  • Consult with managers to determine the role of IT systems in an organization
  • Research emerging technologies to decide if installing them can increase the organization’s efficiency and effectiveness
  • Prepare an analysis of costs and benefits so that management can decide if IT systems and computing infrastructure upgrades are financially worthwhile
  • Devise ways to add new functionality to existing computer systems
  • Design and implement new systems by choosing and configuring hardware and software
  • Oversee the installation and configuration of new systems to customize them for the organization
  • Conduct testing to ensure that the systems work as expected
  • Train the systems’ end users and write instruction manuals

Most computer systems analysts specialize in computer systems that are specific to the organization they work with. For example, an analyst might work predominantly with financial computer systems or with engineering computer systems. Computer systems analysts help other IT team members understand how computer systems can best serve an organization by working closely with the organization’s business leaders.

Computer systems analysts use a variety of techniques, such as data modeling, to design computer systems. Data modeling allows analysts to view processes and data flows. Analysts conduct indepth tests and analyze information and trends in the data to increase a system’s performance and efficiency.

Analysts calculate requirements for how much memory, storage, and computing power the computer system needs. They prepare flowcharts or other kinds of diagrams for programmers or engineers to use when building the system. Analysts also work with these people to solve problems that arise after the initial system is set up. Most analysts do some programming in the course of their work.

In some cases, analysts who supervise the initial installation or upgrade of IT systems from start to finish may be called IT project managers. They monitor a project’s progress to ensure that deadlines, standards, and cost targets are met. IT project managers who also plan and direct an organization’s IT department or IT policies are included in the profile on computer and information systems managers.

Many computer systems analysts are general-purpose analysts who develop new systems or fine-tune existing ones; however, there are some specialized systems analysts. The following are examples of types of computer systems analysts:

Software quality assurance (QA) analysts do indepth testing and diagnose problems of the systems they design. Testing and diagnosis are done in order to make sure that critical requirements are met. QA analysts also write reports to management recommending ways to improve the systems.

Programmer analysts design and update their system’s software and create applications tailored to their organization’s needs. They do more coding and debugging than other types of analysts, although they still work extensively with management and business analysts to determine the business needs that the applications are meant to address. Other occupations that do programming are computer programmers and software developers.

Computer systems analysts held about 633,900 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of computer systems analysts were as follows:

Computer systems design and related services 29%
Finance and insurance 13
Management of companies and enterprises 9
Information 7
Government 6

Computer systems analysts can work directly for an organization or as contractors, often working for an information technology firm. The projects that computer systems analysts work on usually require them to collaborate and coordinate with others.

Analysts who work on contracts in the computer systems design and related services industry may move from one project to the next as they complete work for clients.

Work Schedules

Most systems analysts work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

A bachelor’s degree in a computer or information science field is common, although not always a requirement. Some firms hire analysts with business or liberal arts degrees who have skills in information technology or computer programming.

Education

Most computer systems analysts have a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field. Because these analysts also are heavily involved in the business side of a company, it may be helpful to take business courses or major in management information systems.

Some employers prefer applicants who have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in information systems. For more technically complex jobs, a master’s degree in computer science may be more appropriate.

Although many computer systems analysts have technical degrees, such a degree is not always a requirement. Many analysts have liberal arts degrees and have gained programming or technical expertise elsewhere.

Many systems analysts continue to take classes throughout their careers so that they can learn about new and innovative technologies. Technological advances come so rapidly in the computer field that continual study is necessary to remain competitive.

Systems analysts must understand the business field they are working in. For example, a hospital may want an analyst with a thorough understanding of health plans and programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and an analyst working for a bank may need to understand finance. Having knowledge of their industry helps systems analysts communicate with managers to determine the role of the information technology (IT) systems in an organization.

Advancement

With experience, systems analysts can advance to project manager and lead a team of analysts. Some can eventually become IT directors or chief technology officers. For more information, see the profile on computer and information systems managers.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Analysts must interpret complex information from various sources and decide the best way to move forward on a project. They must also figure out how changes may affect the project.

Communication skills. Analysts work as a go-between with management and the IT department and must explain complex issues in a way that both will understand.

Creativity. Because analysts are tasked with finding innovative solutions to computer problems, an ability to “think outside the box” is important.

The median annual wage for computer systems analysts was $88,740 in May 2018.

The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $54,360, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $142,220.

In May 2018, the median annual wages for computer systems analysts in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Computer systems design and related services $91,520
Management of companies and enterprises 91,220
Information 90,740
Finance and insurance 90,700
Government 80,320

Most systems analysts work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

Computer Systems Analysts

Median annual wages, May 2018

Computer systems analysts

$88,740

Computer occupations

$86,320

Total, all occupations

$38,640

 

Employment of computer systems analysts is projected to grow 9 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.

As organizations across the economy increase their reliance on information technology (IT), analysts will be hired to design and install new computer systems. Smaller firms with minimal IT requirements will find it more cost effective to contract with cloud service providers, or to industries that employ expert IT service providers, for these workers. This contracting should lead to job growth in both the data processing, hosting, and related services industry and the computer systems design and related services industry.

Additional job growth is expected in healthcare fields. Computer systems analysts will be needed to accommodate the anticipated increase in the use and implementation of electronic health records, e-prescribing, and other forms of healthcare IT.

Job Prospects

An understanding of the specific field an analyst is working in is helpful in getting a position. For example, a hospital may desire an analyst with a background or coursework in health management. Overall, candidates with a background in business may have better prospects because jobs for computer systems analysts often require knowledge of an organization’s business needs.

Employment projections data for computer systems analysts, 2018-28
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2018 Projected Employment, 2028 Change, 2018-28 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Computer systems analysts

15-1121 633,900 689,900 9 56,000 Get data

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of computer systems analysts.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2018

Actuaries

Actuaries use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty.

Bachelor’s degree $102,880

Computer and Information Research Scientists

Computer and information research scientists invent and design new approaches to computing technology and find innovative uses for existing technology.

Master’s degree $118,370

Computer and Information Systems Managers

Computer and information systems managers plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities in an organization.

Bachelor’s degree $142,530

Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets.

Bachelor’s degree $109,020

Computer Programmers

Computer programmers write and test code that allows computer applications and software programs to function properly.

Bachelor’s degree $84,280

Database Administrators

Database administrators (DBAs) use specialized software to store and organize data.

Bachelor’s degree $90,070

Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems.

Bachelor’s degree $98,350

Management Analysts

Management analysts propose ways to improve an organization’s efficiency.

Bachelor’s degree $83,610

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of computer networks.

Bachelor’s degree $82,050

Operations Research Analysts

Operations research analysts use advanced mathematical and analytical methods to help solve complex issues.

Bachelor’s degree $83,390

Software Developers

Software developers create the applications or systems that run on a computer or another device.

Bachelor’s degree $105,590

Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists provide help and advice to computer users and organizations.

See How to Become One $53,470

Web Developers

Web developers design and create websites.

Associate’s degree $69,430

For more information about computer systems analysts, visit

Association for Computing Machinery

Computing Research Association

IEEE Computer Society

For information about opportunities for women pursuing information technology careers, visit

National Center for Women & Information Technology

O*NET

Computer Systems Analysts

Informatics Nurse Specialists


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer Systems Analysts,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-systems-analysts.htm (visited ).