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What does a Systems Analyst do?

Almost all businesses, institutions and governments rely on computer networks to perform tasks that are central to their goals. Consequently, most of these organizations rely on computer systems analysts to design, manage and modify their computer networks to perform very specific tasks.

Depending on the needs of the organization or business, systems analysts may either design and develop new computer systems or reconfigure existing hardware and software programs to perform new or unique functions. Sometimes the systems analysts who build a new computer system from scratch are called system architects.

Skills needed by a systems analyst

Systems analysts must be familiar with an organization's needs from top to bottom in order to set up a computer network that performs all the jobs a company requires. This usually involves meeting with managers and users to better understand what their needs and expectations are.

Systems analysts then use a variety of tools--including structured analysis, data modeling and information engineering--to create the system needed. This part of the job often involves a cost-benefit study to determine if the proposed investment is worth the expense.

Once a system is installed and the software initiated, the system analyst runs tests to get the system running smoothly. At this stage, the systems analyst is looking for "bugs" in the system and works to resolve those issues before the computers are rolled out to users.

As the system is put to work, the systems analyst may be involved in training users and writing user manuals to help users get familiar with the system and utilize it to its full potential.

Educational requirements for a systems analyst

Most employers want their systems analysts to at least have a bachelor's degree. It's also helpful if a job candidate for a systems analyst job has practical experience in the organization's area. For instance, businesses hiring system analysts might prefer candidates who have a masters in business administration, in addition to formal training in computer science. Hospitals might like to see some training in health-care related issues.

Complex, highly technical jobs might require a graduate degree. This would be true for systems analyst jobs for science-oriented businesses or colleges or universities.

What's more, computer science is changing so rapidly that systems analysts all need to continually study in order to remain competitive. This kind of supplemental training may come from private institutions, colleges, and hardware and software vendors.

Personality traits are also often a factor in finding a job as a systems analyst. Systems analysts need to be able to communicate effectively with people who do not have technical training in computers and won't be able to understand technical jargon. A good systems analyst can explain computer procedures in simple, easy-to-understand terms users will remember.

Job outlook for systems analysts

There are more than 500,000 computer systems analysts at work in the US and demand for more is expected to increase much faster than average in the coming years. Businesses are increasingly relying on new technology to become more profitable, and wireless Internet and mobile computing are becoming increasingly important.

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