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Information technology (IT) has become the lifeblood of operations in many organizations. From supply chain management to the ability to successfully market products to unique customer segments, organizations can use information technology in a number of ways to reduce costs, increase revenues and successfully compete with other companies in the same industry. Although organizations continue to adopt information technology at a rapid pace, in order to make technology work, companies require specialists that know how to make information technology work effectively and efficiently to support operations. These professionals are known as systems analysts.
Systems analysts are responsible for constructing information technology systems that meet the organization’s needs. Analysts typically meet with managers to acquire a broad understanding of operations and the specific goals that organizations are seeking though their use of IT systems. Based on this information, systems analysts evaluate existing technology and IT system to determine which technologies will meet the organization’s needs. Once a plan for information technology has been approved by the organization, the systems analysts will then be responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of the system in the organization. In this role, systems analysts will be responsible for tracking how the system operates to determine where improvements can be made.
In general, careers in systems analysis focus on specific areas for system development. For instance, professionals working in the field may choose to focus on one specific facet of the organization’s operations (e.g., human resource management, supply chains or accounting). Specialized work in systems analysis can prompt the professional to focus on a particular dimension of systems analysis to provide expertise. For instance, individuals working in the field may choose to work as system architects or designers. These individuals are responsible for helping the organization select the right hardware and software for specific operations in the organization. Additionally, individuals working in the field of systems analysis may choose to specialize in quality assurance. In these roles professionals are responsible for overseeing system implementation to ensure that the system operates as planned. Quality assurance analysts may be responsible for debugging the system if problems arise. Individuals may also choose to focus on program analysis. In these roles, professionals update software and create custom applications needed by the organization.
Computer analysts are required to have extensive technological expertise to provide organizations with the best possible IT support for their operations. Because of the technical nature of the work and the education involved in securing a job in this field, systems analysts typically command high salaries. Salaries will be contingent upon the particular organization in which the professional is employed. Median annual salaries for systems analysts were $75,500 in 2008. Professionals at the upper echelons of the industry were able to command median annual salaries of $118,440). Those just entering the field or staring their careers had median annual salaries of $45,390. Professionals working in professional and commercial equipment supplies had higher salaries than systems analysts working at insurance carriers: $89,670 and $74,610 respectively. Most of the positions for systems analysts are full-time and provide the professional with access to benefits such as health insurance, paid time off and paid vacation time.
In 2008, computer analysts held 532,200 jobs. This number is expected to grow at rapid pace through 2018. In particular the number of jobs for systems analysts is expected to increase to 640,300 by 2018. Demand for systems analysts will increase as more organizations utilize information technology to aid in their operations. Businesses are expected to take advantage of information technology tools such as networking and telecommunications to help bolster their operations. As more organizations follow this pathway, systems analysts will be needed to provide support for the development of IT systems. Professionals that have advanced education and experience in the field will be able to move into management positions in the organization. These positions will provide higher salaries and opportunities for advancement. Professionals working as systems analysts may also choose to seek careers as consultants or freelancers. Systems analysts that become self-employed will have access to additional job opportunities.