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Computer Systems Analyst

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Overall Score
(8.2 out of 10)

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Unemployment Rate

3.6 percent

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The ideal for a computer systems analyst is perfect harmony between an organization's employees, work flow and computer system. With the number of variables involved and the constantly changing conditions within most companies, aligning the three doesn't come as easy as a snap of your fingers. To pull this off, these professionals must be big-picture oriented and have a clear understanding of how the components within a computer system – hardware, software and networks – work together. They're charged with analyzing that interaction and making recommendations to help a company or organization operate more efficiently. Computer systems analysts juggle a lot of responsibilities, which can include choosing and configuring hardware and software, matching technology to users' needs, monitoring and testing the system in operation and troubleshooting problems after implementation. The job also has a financial component: Computer systems analysts must assess the costs and benefits of system improvements to determine whether the money spent will be sufficiently offset by gains in efficiency and effectiveness. Introverts need not apply: Collaboration is a big part of the job, as analysts frequently consult with management and users, as well as convey system requirements to software developers and network architects.

To succeed as a computer systems analyst, it's not necessary to know the nitty-gritty details of specific technologies, says David P. Bieg, chief operating officer for the International Institute for Business Analysis. "You need to understand how systems interact, but you don't really need to understand the core of every technology – it's really about how information and process flows through the system," he says. Although a little more than a quarter of analysts work for computer systems design firms, they are also employed in a range of industries, from science to health care to banking and finance.

Demand for computer systems analysts should grow at a steady clip this decade, as businesses and organizations increasingly rely on information technology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 24.5 percent employment growth for computer system analysts between 2012 and 2022, faster than the average of all occupations. During that time period, about 127,700 jobs will need to be filled. The profession's strong growth prospects helped boost computer systems analyst to the No. 2 spot in our ranking of The Best Jobs of 2014.


The Labor Department reports that computer system analysts made a median salary of $79,680 in 2012. The highest-paid 10 percent in the profession earned $122,090 that year, while the lowest-paid earned $49,950. Some of the most highly compensated analyst positions support the mining industry and securities and commodities exchanges. Two niche industries that pay computer systems analysts particularly well are animal slaughtering and household appliance manufacturing, but job seekers should note that there are relatively few positions available in these fields. Location-wise, the highest-paying jobs can be found along the East Coast, from Bridgeport, Conn., to North Port, Fla., with State College, Pa., in between.

Salary Range

75th Percentile $100,030
Median $79,680
25th Percentile $63,030


Most employers prefer applicants with bachelor's degrees in a relevant field, such as computer science. For technically complex jobs, a master's degree may be preferred, and some employers seek applicants who hold a master's degree in business administration with a concentration in information systems. This is also a field that values technical skills, so people who have degrees in other areas may be able to snag a computer systems analyst job if they have courses in business systems analysis or related subjects under their belt. Practical experience also helps. "Someone may not think they qualify in this area, but depending on the curriculum taken, that may, in fact, qualify them," Bieg says.

Reviews & Advice

Whether you're pursuing a bachelor's or master's degree, Bieg advises taking courses that specifically pertain to business systems analysis. "[Students] need to learn about business systems analysis in order to determine if this is the type of thing they want to do and also recognize the opportunities being offered," he says. Think of these classes as a gateway to the profession. "There's this gap that exists where students want to understand how to get into a career [as a computer systems analyst] and corporations want to identify students who want to be in that career ... and there’s nobody bringing them together to make that happen," Bieg says.

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility fair Average
Stress Level fair Average
Flexibility good Above Average
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Last updated by Nathan Hellman.

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