Computer system analysts play several key roles in developing computer applications and systems. This job requires excellent communication skills and interpersonal skills, as well as the ability to organize information and see the big picture. The job outlook is bright for systems analysts, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, with the median salary as of 2010 being $77,740, and expected job growth between 2010 and 2020 at 22 percent.
Gathering Users' Application Requirements
Systems analysts must interview users and gather their requirements for new software systems. The analyst then organizes and documents her findings into design specifications for a new computer system. This is a difficult task, since many users do not have enough technical knowledge about computers. Many times they will leave out a requirement because they think the computer cannot possibly do it.
Design specifications help the systems analyst logically work through the various requirements and develop programming specifications for the computer programmer. The systems analyst’s understanding of information technology helps her determine the best technical solution for the problem at hand. Design specifications include text documents and flow charts for visual understanding.
While a programmer writes code, the systems analyst produces system documentation. This includes inputs, outputs and user-initiated processes. Documentation helps users learn to use the new application, and is also useful for training sessions. System documentation also helps programmers troubleshoot when the application does not behave as expected.
End-user training is where the systems analysts communication and interpersonal skills are put to the test. Users often resist change, opting for the old system rather than adapting to the newer, perhaps more challenging software. Good systems analysts are able to present the new system in a positive light and make difficult processes look easy.
2016 Salary Information for Computer Systems Analysts
Computer systems analysts earned a median annual salary of $87,220 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, computer systems analysts earned a 25th percentile salary of $67,460, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $111,040, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 600,500 people were employed in the U.S. as computer systems analysts.
Alan Hughes has more than 30 years of experience in IT including mainframes, programming, client/server, networks, project management, security, disaster recovery, information systems and hardware. He holds a master's degree in applied computer science and several certifications. He currently teaches information technology at the university level.