Computer systems analysts, sometimes called information technology analysts or systems analysts, work at the interface between information technology and business. Their job is to analyze an organization's IT needs, assess the current IT infrastructure and make specific suggestions for improvements. Computer systems analysts are employed in virtually all industries, and some analysts choose to earn one or more professional certifications to attest to their expertise.
Educational requirements for computer systems analysts vary by employer, but many employers prefer candidates with at least a bachelor's degree in computer science or information technology. A few systems analysts are self-taught programmers with educational backgrounds in the liberal arts or natural sciences. Senior systems analysts are often expected to have a master's degree, typically a master's in business administration with a focus on information systems.
A few organizations offer entry level IT-related certification for systems analysts. The Institute for the Certification of Computing Professionals awards the associate computing professional certification with no educational or experience requirements -- you just have to score at least 50 percent on one specialty ICCP examination. The ICCP also offers the information systems analyst certification, which requires a bachelor's degree and passing a comprehensive exam covering important topics in information systems.
The ICCP also awards the certified computing professional certification, which requires four years of industry experience and passing three exams. ICCP offers five other specialized certifications for IT professionals. The International Software Certification Board has the certified software business analyst designation. Becoming a CSBA requires at least six years of IT-related education or professional experience, and a comprehensive two-part exam. The American Society for Quality offers the software quality engineer certification. SQE certification requires eight years of professional experience, up to five years of which can be substituted by education, and passing a rigorous four-hour exam.
Systems Analyst Wages and Prospects
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer systems analysts earned a median wage of $79,680 in 2012. Systems analysts based in Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut earned the most, garnering an average wage of $116,560 in 2012. Those employed in Bloomington, Indiana came out toward the bottom of the pay scale, earning an average wage of $61,150. The BLS is projecting a strong 22 percent job growth for the profession from 2010 to 2020.