How to Become
a Systems Analyst
Best Education Tracks, Key Skills, and Top Certifications
Almost all modern companies combine business with technology. While business savvy is integral to founding a company, technology is often integrated later, through the addition of information technology (IT) professionals. Computer systems analysts provide a bridge between business and technology, helping them work together seamlessly.
In this guide, you’ll learn about a system analyst’s primary roles and the various pathways you can take to become one yourself.
What Is a Systems Analyst?
Systems analysts blend IT skills with business savvy. They work with IT workers to design computer systems that offer long-term solutions to the problems a company may be facing. They have an in-depth understanding of a company’s business practices, which helps them make the most relevant technological recommendations.
Systems analysts are also well aware of cutting-edge technologies like machine learning and cloud computing. This helps them present the best possible solution to the company.
What Type of School Should You Attend
to Become a Systems Analyst?
A systems analyst needs to be well educated and highly trained in their field to bring the most value to the company.
Best Systems Analyst Education Tracks
It is most common for a systems analyst to have a bachelor’s degree. Below are some of the education tracks you can follow to become a systems analyst yourself.
Systems Analyst Degrees
One of the prerequisites for becoming a systems analyst is to get a bachelor’s degree in a computer science-related field. If you can add a few business courses along the way, you’ll gain additional relevant skills that will be appreciated by future employers.
You can also consider a master’s degree program in computer science or a related field. However, this is not required and just depends on your personal goals.
Systems Analyst Bootcamps
Like professional degrees, boot camps can help you find the perfect role for you. While a boot camp is not a substitute for a degree, it can help you understand the technicalities of the role and ace your job interviews.
Bootcamps are available in part-time or full-time formats. Some boot camps offer individual and group projects to help you understand the practical aspects of the job. You might need to take some classes in preparation for a boot camp because they can be highly accelerated learning environments.
Systems Analyst Courses
Another way to strengthen your resume is to take relevant courses. Several computer-related courses, like those focused on cybersecurity, coding, or systems design, can help you pick up relevant skills for the job. A resume studded with cybersecurity boot camps and systems design courses is far more likely to be accepted than one without.
How to Become a Systems Analyst: A Step-by-Step Guide
Becoming a systems analyst takes time and hard work. One of the first requirements for systems analyst jobs is a bachelor’s degree, which takes around four years to complete.
Below is a list of steps you can follow to become a systems analyst.
Acquire proper education
As mentioned previously, an essential step to becoming a systems analyst is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in a computer science-related field. You can also take business courses while in school to improve your knowledge on topics that will be relevant to the job.
Build your skills
Gaining a degree is sometimes not enough. It’s important to learn practical skills that are often not taught in school. Bootcamps or online courses help aspiring systems analysts to better understand their job’s requirements and train themselves accordingly.
Gain work experience
To get your dream job in systems analysis, find some job experience by getting an entry-level position in the field. Having experience in similar roles helps you get to your desired roles faster.
Get a master’s degree
Although it’s optional, adding additional degrees and certifications always helps in boosting your career. A master’s degree is the perfect continuation to the bachelor’s degree, which you’ll already have by this stage.
Key Systems Analyst Skills
The role of a systems analyst requires you to understand many different concepts. There are a few essential skills that can help you get better at your job. Below is a short list of skills that can help you excel.
Investigation and Analysis
Businesses gather data from many sources. Systems analysts look at the available data and draw insights that can be useful for the business.
Systems analysts are required to organize multiple projects around the data they collect. They must be able to deliver these projects on time and with high-quality support. Hence, it is crucial that they have project management skills.
Systems analysts often run into issues while revamping and maintaining legacy systems. For this reason, troubleshooting is an essential skill. Good troubleshooting skills allow them to move through and complete tasks more quickly.
Systems Analyst Salary and Job Outlook
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), systems analysts receive an average salary of $93,730. This figure reflects a relatively high demand for the role across the US.
According to the BLS, the number of systems analyst roles is expected to increase by 7 percent through 2029. This figure is three percent higher than the average for all jobs.
Entry-Level Systems Analyst Job Requirements
Since this job is one of the most versatile roles in a software-focused company, most entry-level systems analysts are expected to have a bachelor’s degree. In some cases, employers will only hire candidates who already have their MBA.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average entry-level systems analyst makes close to $60,000 per year.
What Does a Systems Analyst Do?
One of the primary roles of these professionals is to manage an organization’s computer system and suggest improvements. To better support the needs of the entire company, a systems analyst must work closely with employees in other departments.
Below are some details about the critical responsibilities of a systems analyst.
Manages Computer Systems
One of the top responsibilities of a systems analyst is to manage the company’s computer systems. This includes being able to configure physical and virtual solutions for enhancing security and meeting the company’s needs.
A systems analyst typically needs to be well versed in the most common computer operations. They need to have a firm grasp on computer networking, cyber security, and software development to fulfill their duties.
Creates Technical Documentation
Besides building solutions, a systems analyst also needs to document them. To help others understand how to use or modify them in the future, you’ll need to be fluent in technical communication. The idea is to prepare documentation that the whole organization will be able to read and understand.
Trains the Staff
A crucial role for a systems analyst is to interact with the company’s staff and help them transition into using the new technological tools. You’ll be required to train the workers when a new solution is deployed and help them solve any issues they encounter while working with the software.
Systems Analyst Certifications
Certifications can help you gain the upper hand in your job search for a systems analyst role.
Below are some of the top certifications you can receive.
The CompTIA A+ certification is one of the first certifications to get when building a professional reputation as a systems analyst. This certification helps to build instincts for problem-solving. It also covers other fundamental concepts like operating system configuration, troubleshooting issues, basic IT infrastructure, and networking.
CompTIA Security+ is the first cyber security certification that an ideal candidate should earn. This certification covers the core knowledge of an average cyber security role and provides a pathway to higher-level cyber security jobs.
The CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+) is a hands-on, performance-oriented certification for advanced cybersecurity professionals. This certification validates the ability of the holder to implement solutions well within a given cybersecurity framework.
Information Systems Security Management Professional (ISSMP)
The ISSMP certification covers a wide range of topics that are necessary for a systems analyst to know. Some of the top concepts are leadership, business management, systems management, risk and threat handling, and ethics. ISSMP is recommended for cyber security and management professionals, which fits well with the role of a systems analyst.
How to Prepare for Your Systems Analyst Job Interview
A systems analyst job interview focuses on understanding your expertise in handling old and new computer systems. Most questions are focused on your technical skills and important soft skills like communication and the ability to collaborate with others.
Apart from software development, you are also expected to know the ins and outs of computer networks. Since you’ll also be handling security, a refresher on cyber security topics before the interview can help you immensely.
Systems Analyst Job Interview Practice Questions
- What would you look for when performing a software audit?
- What are your standards for evaluating and analyzing existing systems?
- How would you handle frequent changes to user and system requirements?
- Explain the top-down approach to analysis and design.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Systems Analyst?
The answer to this question depends entirely on where you currently stand in the process. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a computer science-related field, you would need an additional four to eight weeks to complete the required training. If you have yet to enroll for a degree, it might take you more than four years to complete the necessary steps.
If you have a degree in a field other than computer science, a professional certification will help you establish your credibility as a systems analyst. This takes around four to six months to complete.
Should You Become a Systems Analyst in 2021?
Considering the demand for systems analysts across the US and the job’s predicted growth, systems analysis is a great field to enter in 2021. If you are yet to decide on a career path, systems analyst is a great job to work towards. If you are already a computer science graduate, it is even easier for you.
Systems Analyst FAQ
Do systems analysts code?
Systems analysts may be required to design as well as code the solutions needed by their employers. However, it is not a routine part of their job, and you can still have software developers in your team to aid in building solutions.
What is the difference between a systems analyst and a business analyst?
Business analysts are responsible for the organizational aspects like training and cultural changes, while systems analysts are responsible for technological solutions and quality control.
What is the difference between systems analysts and developers?
The roles of both analysts and developers are focused on computer systems. The primary difference between the two is that analysts are expected to work on pre-existing systems, whereas software developers build new software from scratch.
Is a system analyst a programmer?
No. Systems analysts and computer programmers do different things. That being said, systems analysts are also expected to code, so they should have basic knowledge of programming.