Systems analysts are the ultimate problem solvers of the IT field, designing and implementing computer systems to match an organization’s technology and business needs. According to Glassdoor, the national average annual salary for a computer systems analyst in the US is $85,559.
Here, we’ll go over what a systems analyst does, how to become one, and the factors that influence a systems analyst’s salary (and your preference for Star Wars or Star Trek may just be one of them).
What does a systems analyst do?
So, what is a systems analyst? And what exactly does a systems analyst do?
A systems analyst manages the computer systems and procedures within an organization. It might sound simple enough, but the job of a systems analyst is anything but easy.
A systems analyst may also be referred to as a business systems analyst, information systems analyst, or computer systems analyst
One of the top priorities of a computer systems analyst is understanding an organization’s needs, workflow, and end goals. Systems analysts are responsible for analyzing an organization’s computer and information systems to design solutions and procedures that make them more efficient. They also take care of a wide range of tasks, including:
Computer systems analysis
Information system design
System installation and testing
Research on emerging technologies
Running systems reports
What does a typical systems analyst career path look like?
There are several career paths that aspiring systems analysts can choose from:
Cybersecurity analyst: Protect an organization’s IT infrastructure from security threats
Systems architect: Create hardware, software, and IT systems
Systems manager: Plan, install, and monitor an organization’s network to meet IT needs
Cloud systems administrator: Develop and maintain cloud computer resources
Data scientist: Interpret large data sets using analytical and statistical computing skills
Each career requires a specific specialization, education, and training. While not all systems analyst career paths look the same, most systems analysts generally start with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a computer- or business-related field. This can include computer science, data science, mathematics, computer or electrical engineering, or even a business degree.
Over time, systems analysts can advance to positions like project manager, IT director, and chief technology officer (CTO), especially with expertise or experience in other areas of information technology. Higher positions often manage teams of analysts or other IT professionals and oversee the implementation and management of computer systems and IT infrastructure.
Systems analyst salary by seniority
The average salary range of a system analyst is between $77,964 to $88,683 per year in the United States. However, the average systems analyst salary can vary based on multiple factors, like location, industry, job experience, education, and skill specialization.
According to Glassdoor, the average systems analyst salary breaks down as follows:
Entry-level systems analyst: $76,964 per year
Mid-level systems analyst: $85,599 per year
Senior systems analyst: $88,683 per year
According to the latest BLS report, the highest salaries are reported in industries involving oil extraction and aerospace manufacturing. The states with the highest salary for a systems analyst also have a high cost of living and a high concentration of corporations and Fortune 500 companies. These include:
New York: $111,150
Washington D.C: $108,470
The states with the lowest average salaries include Alaska, Arkansas, and Mississippi, where systems analyst jobs tend to be limited to smaller businesses and local education and government.
Systems analyst vs. systems admin
While both systems administrators and system analysts are concerned with the health and efficiency of an organization’s computer system, their roles are slightly different. Systems administrators focus on the day-to-day operations within a system, managing repairs and installations, maintaining network security, and overseeing the ins and outs of an organization’s hardware and software.
On the other hand, systems analysts are concerned with the bigger picture. They build the bridge between IT and business, consulting with managers and analyzing an organization’s needs to determine what systems, hardware, and procedures make them more efficient and productive.
Think of it this way: If you need help hanging a picture, you call your systems administrator. If you need to feng shui your entire apartment for greater inner peace and oneness with the universe, you call your systems analyst.
Both roles require technical expertise and extensive knowledge of all things IT. However, systems analysts also need to have expert analytical skills to evaluate a system and mold it to fit an organization’s needs. They should also have excellent communication and multitasking skills since they’ll work on many different projects simultaneously with both IT and non-IT employees.
How do you become a systems analyst?
Get a degree
As with most IT careers, the first step towards becoming a systems analyst is a degree in an IT-related field. A bachelor’s degree is enough to get a job as a systems analyst in most industries, though master’s degrees are becoming more desirable.
Many analysts enroll in part-time or online master’s degree programs as they work to advance their skills, make themselves more competitive, and demonstrate a commitment to their careers. Most analysts opt for a master’s in computer science. Analysts that want to specialize in a specific field might also select a master’s degree in software development, business administration in information technology, or another related area.
Get a job as a systems analyst
Getting an entry-level job allows graduates and other professionals crucial opportunities, including:
Developing technical skills
Networking with IT and business professionals
Gaining interpersonal and leadership experience
Applying analytical, technical, and communication skills
An analyst’s first job can position them for specific growth opportunities and career choices in the future. Analysts should research new job opportunities thoroughly to make sure the role is in line with their career goals.
Even more critical to a career as a systems analyst is on-the-job training and continued higher education. Information technology is a constantly evolving field and requires professionals to stay up to date on the latest and greatest in tech. This looks different for every analyst, depending on their specific career path, skills, and interests. Enrolling in a boot camp, course, or certification program can provide analysts with specialized knowledge or skills in areas like cybersecurity and coding.
With the right combination of job experience, training, and higher education, systems analysts have plenty of opportunities for advancement, success, and professional growth. Even better, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment opportunities for systems analysts are anticipated to grow in the next decade, so prospective analysts can expect to find plenty of job opportunities within the tech industry.
The role of systems analyst comes with tons of incredible professional and personal growth opportunities if you’re willing to put in the work. If you feel like you’ve got what it takes to be a systems analyst, you can begin by looking into job opportunities that put you on the right path. While you’re at it, stay tuned to PDQ to get the latest tips, trends, and resources for all things IT.
Part writer, part sysadmin fangirl, Meredith gets her kicks diving into the depths of IT lore. When she's not spending quality time behind a computer screen, she's probably curled up under a blanket, silently contemplating the efficacy of napping.