Program analysts, often called management analysts, can work for private companies or in local, state or federal government divisions and departments. The program analyst who works in private enterprise helps to make a business more profitable. When a program analyst works in government, her purpose is to help make improvements to operations and procedures. A thorough understanding of information technology is critical to the success of a program analyst in private enterprise or in a government position.
The program analyst must be knowledgeable of systems and activities used by government or private enterprise, depending on where she plans to work. She gathers information on these systems to find ways to improve or enhance the internal processes used in business or government. Upon completion of these system reviews, the program analyst requires writing skills to prepare all-inclusive reports that communicate recommendations to improve the process or system.
Strong analytical skills are required to examine systems and processes thoroughly. After gathering data from the system or program under review, the analyst must compile the information to analyze it. This might include reviewing and analyzing financial data, income and expense information, employment reports or purchasing systems, for example. She must be able to extrapolate solutions after reviewing the data that provide ways to improve or enhance internal processes.
At the heart of the analyst's job is her ability to solve problems. She must be creative and able to think outside the box. Each process or program that she analyzes requires her to come up with solutions distinctive to the system or process. Critical thinking that leads to a thorough analysis can help the program analyst use her problem-solving skills to arrive at solutions for system or program improvements.
Program analysts require thorough knowledge and experience working with multiple information technology systems. Advanced computer skills help the program analyst to review internal systems and processes that employ computer programs. The program analyst must understand how to work with a variety of databases, software systems and computer equipment.
Education requirements for program analysts start with a bachelor of science degree. She might choose to receive a degree in statistics, computer and information science, business, management, accounting, economics, engineering or public administration. Program analyst candidates with a master's degree have the opportunity to start work at a higher salary than those with only a BS degree.
Salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for analysts indicates a median annual wage of $76,160 in May 2010. Those in the lowest 10 percent earned $43,900, while the top 10 percent earned $138,790. Program analysts in government are paid according to their experience, background and education.
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