How to Become a Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems, also known as information systems, are a bit like your wardrobe. Just because you buy a new item doesn’t mean it’ll match any of your existing outfits or even fit in your closet! The same goes for businesses and their IT environments. That’s why companies need to perform what's called a computer systems analysis.
What is a computer systems analyst?
Think of them like digital stylists and organizers of information technology—they make sure that all the extra programs, services, and apps purchased by a company can fully integrate with their existing system. These tech fashionistas make sure that every new solution matches the solution stack and that applications work smoothly and efficiently.
They tread the line between business and IT, considering business strategies when planning out digital optimization. And with an unemployment rate of only 1.4% and a median salary of $88,740, this versatility is rewarded.
Interested in joining their ranks? This guide will provide information regarding the ins and outs of how to become a computer systems analyst.
A Day in the Life: What Does a Computer Systems Analyst Do?
While it may be clear enough that computer systems analysts improve, well, computer systems, you may still be wondering what that means for their daily routines.
What exactly is a computer systems analyst’s day-to-day like?
Every company has different IT requirements based on the information technology they are dealing with. However, some daily tasks are the same for computer systems analysts across the board. These may include:
- Running system tests and enhancing compatibility during data sharing and processing.
- Optimizing existing systems infrastructure constantly.
- Collaborating with upper management to implement business goals into their IT strategy.
- Implementing user testing strategies to validate new tools and features.
- Evaluating the efficacy of potential new platforms to make informed purchases.
- Drafting detailed guides and instruction manuals for the rest of the company.
- Calculating speed, latency, bandwidth, and memory requirements for a computer system.
These standard practices can be applied to jobs in a large variety of industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, including:
- Information, which employs 7% of all analysts.
- 6% of all analysts work in government.
- Computer systems design understandably employs 29% of analysts.
- 9% of systems analysts hold jobs in enterprise management.
- Finance and insurance, which boasts 13% of all systems analysts.
This job variety comes to show how adaptable computer systems analysts can be. Click the link to learn about the highest paying coding jobs on the market.
What it Takes
Computer systems analysts need to be able to perform the tasks listed above on a diverse range of information systems, both new and old. This versatility is precisely what makes the job both daunting and exciting.
Successful computer systems analysts will back their love of tech up with these vital skills:
- Technical evaluation and research
- System optimization
- Agile workflows
- Computer programing
If this seems like a lot, don’t worry—the career path to becoming a computer systems analyst isn’t as overwhelming as it appears to be!
There are plenty of ways to get the training and education you need without spending four years in a college program or sinking thousands on a boot camp.
Becoming a Computer Systems Analyst: A Roadmap
A computer systems analyst’s job is unique for its mix of business and tech, requiring experts to be familiar with both aspects of a company. To get to a place where you are confident in both of these areas, you’ll need some basic steps.
The roadmap to your dream career looks a bit like this:
- Educate yourself
- Learn how to code
- Gain experience
- Get certified
- Never stop learning
Step 1: Educate Yourself
One path to achieving the right education for a job such as a computer systems analyst is through a university program. Because the job is so versatile, you have a few options for majors. Most systems analysts may receive a bachelor's degree in one of the following areas (some even strive for a master's degree):
- Computer science
- Computer programming
- Business Administration
- Information sciences
- Database management
- Management information systems
Whatever major you choose, remember that you’ll probably have to seek supplemental education outside of school due to the job’s dual demands. If your academic focus is in computer science, take some extension classes in business or pursue an M.B.A. If you majored in business, attend a coding course to beef up your technical skills.
However, if you don’t have the time, means, or interest to pursue a traditional education, don’t despair. You can learn your fundamental skills through other means.
Your first task? Learning how to code.
Step 2: Learn How to Code
Whether you’re in a theory-heavy university program, you have a degree in business, or are taking your education into your own hands—learning to code is fundamental to success in this field.
No college degree program or boot camp can cover everything you need to know, especially when you’re also busy developing your business prowess alongside your technical knowledge. While you may understand AND and NAND gates, you may be missing out on the basics of practical coding.
To qualify for your top job picks, supplement your education with an online coding for beginners course dedicated to building intuition around classic coding problems. Your ability to adapt to brand new challenges depends not on how many languages you know, but on a deeper understanding of coding logic.
This ability to think like a coder will take you far. The perfect starting point? Disney Codeillusion. It's important to not settle for anything less than magical when taking your first steps towards coding mastery. (More on this later.)
Step 3: Gain Experience
The job of a computer system analyst is practical in nature. It requires hands-on participation, thinking on your feet, and a lot of pivoting between teams and systems. Thus, your job prospects only increase when you’ve gained first-hand experience in the field.
Luckily, you can take your hands-on practice into your own hands.
Here are some standard (and out-of-the-box) ways to gain experience as a computer analyst:
- Apply for an internship at a major tech company, startup, or financial institution. Larger companies may offer joint programs that give you both coding and business experience.
- Tinker with your personal computer system at home by creating your own virtual machine, playing around with networks, and manipulating your storage systems through virtualization.
- Do part-time work under the computer systems analyst at a local company. Smaller companies will offer you a better chance of hands-on participation.
- Visit a data center in your town and ask to see any retired hard drives or solid-state drives. Shadow the operators there to understand how to send commands directly to the hardware and create storage volumes with existing programs.
Step 4: Get Certified
To gain credibility in such a technical, ever-changing field, especially if you don’t have a college degree in a related subject, you’ll want to pursue a certification program. Even if you do have a college education, pursuing further training will only benefit you.
Here are some of the most common certificates and educational institutions to consider:
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
- Microsoft C# Certification
- Certified Software Business Analyst (CSBA)
- Association for Information Systems (AIS)
- International Association for Computer Information Systems (IACIS)
- Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)
Acquiring one of these certificates will not only boost your resume, it will also give you the most up-to-date knowledge on existing computer systems, which are constantly evolving. Like a doctor, lawyer, or other type of engineer, you’ll always need to be updating your understanding of your technical landscape.
This leads to the last point...
Step 5: Never Stop Learning
The tech world's demands are constantly shifting, inviting innovation, new frameworks, and new languages every day. This creates an added challenge for computer systems analysts, who have to be familiar with several digital environments to ensure compatibility.
This means you will need to be ready to adapt to a new programming environment at a moment’s notice. Whatever it may be, don’t see this demand for continuous growth as a deterrent—see it as an opportunity to live an exciting, dynamic work life!
And remember, the easiest way to keep up with your coding skills is to follow along with an engaging online learning platform designed with you in mind.
Let Disney Codeillusion Take You Closer to Your Dream
Wishing upon a star is not enough to transform you into a top-notch computer systems analyst. Whatever your dreams may be, you have to match that fire with hard work and dedication.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use a little magic to get you started.
See for yourself by giving our free trial a try. Enjoy the process; it’s worth it.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. Computer Systems Analyst. https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/computer-systems-analyst
Indeed. How to Become a Systems Analyst: Career Requirements and Steps to Take. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-become-a-systems-analyst
Noodle. How (And Why) to Become a Systems Analyst. https://www.noodle.com/articles/how-to-become-a-systems-analyst-training-and-careers
USNews. What is a Computer Systems Analyst? https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/computer-systems-analyst