Both computer system engineers and and computer systems analysts do work that is critical for businesses and other organizations. However, they do different types of work and often work in different industries. Computer systems engineers create new types of computer software, and are usually employed by software publishers and electronic device manufacturers. Computer system analysts make sure that computer systems work, and support IT departments in a variety of industries.
Computer System Engineers
Computer system engineers, or systems software developers, work to develop new programs that allow computers to function properly. Unlike applications software developers, systems software developers don't spend their time inventing new games. Instead, they build the operating systems that run computers, such as Windows and Mac OS. Systems software developers also design the interface systems that allow users to interact with programs on the computer. Of course, systems software developers don't only work with computers; they also design systems for mobile phones and video game consoles.
Computer Systems Analysts
Computer systems analysts study the specific IT needs of the organization they work for or are consulting for, and take steps to meet those needs either by streamlining or reorganizing an organization's existing resources or by integrating new technology. In certain cases, system analysts may also be involved in training employees how to use new technologies. Some analysts specialize in certain areas of IT analysis. For example, programmer analysts write code to ensure that computer systems work properly, and system QA analysts test an organization's system to search for possible flaws.
Both jobs require several years of postsecondary study. Computer systems analysts usually have at least a bachelor's degree in computer science or a closely-related field. Some employers prefer to hire systems analysts who have a master's degree in computer science or business administration. Computer systems engineers are also required to have at least a bachelor's degree, usually in computer science, software engineering or mathematics. Computer systems engineers also need to have fluency in the latest programming languages.
On average, computer system engineers tend to make more money than computer systems analysts. As of 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that computer systems engineers earned an average wage of $49.30 per hour and an average salary of $102,550 per year. By comparison, computer software analysts reported an average wage of $40.29 per hour and an average salary of $83,800.