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Computer Systems Analysts

At a Glance

  • Help organizations redesign their computer systems
  • Update their skills through self-study and classes
  • May work long hours to meet deadlines
  • Have a medium level of social interaction
  • Have a bachelor's degree
  • Some work on a temporary or contract basis

Career summary

Computer systems analysts improve existing computer systems. They also plan and develop new systems.

#review 3/21/19 lh

Systems analysts help organizations redesign their computer systems. Sometimes they add or design new software programs to make better use of computers. They often specialize in:

Systems analysts discuss an organization's needs with its managers and staff. Analysts clarify goals and determine if they need to design a new software system. They prepare charts and diagrams that show how the parts of the system will work together.

Analysts prepare budget reports that discuss the costs and benefits of a new computer system. Managers use these reports to help decide if the proposed system is worth the cost.

Systems analysts coordinate the upgrade or installation of the computer system. Some systems analysts write programming code. They test nearly completed systems on users. They observe staff as they use the system to make sure it performs as planned. They also review computer reports and programs relating to the system to find problems. They change the programs to correct those problems.

Analysts set up computer systems and train staff how to use them. They write manuals that describe how to use the system. They write documentation for the people who will maintain the system.

Some organizations do not employ programmers. A single worker called a programmer-analyst is responsible for both systems analysis and programming.

Change happens quickly in the computer field. Systems analysts read books, blogs, and websites to keep their knowledge up to date. They may also take classes.

Related careers

This career is part of the Information Technology cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to computer systems analysts.

Common work activities

Computer systems analysts perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, computer systems analysts:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Computer systems analysts frequently:

It is important for computer systems analysts to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for computer systems analysts to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Computer systems analysts need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a computer systems analyst, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Most new computer systems analysts have at least a bachelor's degree. In the past, formal training was not important and analysts learned on the job. Now, with increasingly complex computing systems and a growing number of college-trained applicants, a bachelor's degree is the usual way to prepare.

The most common areas of study are computer science, information science, and management information systems (MIS). However, you can have a bachelor's degree in any area as long as you take computer courses.

Work experience

Some people prepare through work experience. You can work your way up through computer jobs, learning new skills at each one. Eventually, you have enough knowledge to move into a systems analyst position. You can also develop advanced computer skills in other occupations and then transfer over to systems analysis. For example, an accountant may become a systems analyst who specializes in accounting systems.

You should consider participating in an internship while in college. An internship is usually part of a four-year degree program. It offers you a chance to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a work situation. It also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field.

On-the-job training

New analysts usually receive on-the-job training. It typically lasts up to one year. During training you work under the guidance of experienced analysts. You get more independence and responsibility as you gain knowledge and experience.

Because of the fast changing nature of this field, employers often offer training in the newest computer technologies, languages, and applications.

Military training

Some branches of the military train people to be computer systems specialists or officers. For specialists, training lasts from seven to 13 weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job. Computer systems officers need a bachelor's degree to enter this military occupation. They receive most of their training on the job.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link).

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers prefer applicants who have at least a bachelor's degree. They generally prefer candidates with a computer-related degree. However, applicants with other majors and computer experience are also hired. Many employers promote programmers or other computer professionals within their company.

For more complex jobs, employers prefer to hire applicants who have a graduate degree. Sometimes a master's degree in computer science or engineering is enough. A PhD is required for jobs in research laboratories or universities. It is difficult to qualify for this type of position with only a bachelor's degree. However, requirements for computer jobs vary because employers' preferences depend upon the work to be done.

Experience on a specific model or type of computer used by the employer may be required. Familiarity with current programming languages is essential.

Experienced systems analysts are often recruited by other companies. Position openings are generally passed by word of mouth or through professional placement firms. Some employers may require applicants to pass a background check and/or drug screen.

#Jobs posted by w/ CIBER Inc in Bothell & Pacific Northwest National Lab 2/27/14 required background/drug screen, cj.


Those who wish to enter this field should contact employers directly. Some employers prefer to hire those who specialize in certain fields such as business administration or accounting. Basic accounting courses can be helpful. Knowledge of different operating systems and programming languages is helpful. Experience in diagnosis and correction of personal computer malfunctions is often of value. Know the mechanics of the Internet and web page publishing.

Costs to workers

Workers may wish to join a professional association, which may have annual dues. Workers may also pay for continuing education or additional certifications to keep up with changes in the field, but often this is paid for by the employer.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Computer systems analysts (SOC 15-1121)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $31.29 $37.02 $45.12 $55.58 $66.60
Monthly $5,423 $6,416 $7,819 $9,632 $11,542
Yearly $65,080 $76,990 $93,850 $115,600 $138,520
    Bellingham Hourly $24.68 $31.74 $36.66 $42.77 $54.62
Monthly $4,277 $5,501 $6,353 $7,412 $9,466
Yearly $51,347 $66,023 $76,249 $88,971 $113,621
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $26.84 $31.88 $46.18 $65.85 $80.57
Monthly $4,651 $5,525 $8,003 $11,412 $13,963
Yearly $55,818 $66,312 $96,059 $136,965 $167,581
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $24.65 $35.38 $41.95 $47.50 $50.86
Monthly $4,272 $6,131 $7,270 $8,232 $8,814
Yearly $51,274 $73,589 $87,249 $98,815 $105,800
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $29.20 $35.26 $44.04 $54.44 $63.09
Monthly $5,060 $6,111 $7,632 $9,434 $10,933
Yearly $60,746 $73,346 $91,608 $113,247 $131,228
    Longview Hourly $27.65 $33.27 $38.88 $46.38 $53.66
Monthly $4,792 $5,766 $6,738 $8,038 $9,299
Yearly $57,522 $69,200 $80,867 $96,472 $111,603
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $32.81 $36.62 $42.21 $47.40 $50.51
Monthly $5,686 $6,346 $7,315 $8,214 $8,753
Yearly $68,240 $76,152 $87,802 $98,591 $105,065
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $29.64 $33.89 $37.95 $38.89 $46.57
Monthly $5,137 $5,873 $6,577 $6,740 $8,071
Yearly $61,652 $70,482 $78,936 $80,873 $96,864
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $33.39 $40.75 $48.45 $58.99 $70.36
Monthly $5,786 $7,062 $8,396 $10,223 $12,193
Yearly $69,444 $84,744 $100,765 $122,706 $146,357
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $27.95 $33.05 $37.95 $47.24 $68.55
Monthly $4,844 $5,728 $6,577 $8,187 $11,880
Yearly $58,126 $68,724 $78,940 $98,257 $142,584
    Vancouver Hourly $27.61 $35.01 $44.41 $54.36 $62.52
Monthly $4,785 $6,067 $7,696 $9,421 $10,835
Yearly $57,430 $72,820 $92,364 $113,067 $130,032
    Walla Walla Hourly $14.88 $24.29 $34.76 $41.19 $49.30
Monthly $2,579 $4,209 $6,024 $7,138 $8,544
Yearly $30,951 $50,515 $72,314 $85,684 $102,546
    Wenatchee Hourly $18.05 $26.20 $30.35 $37.96 $45.79
Monthly $3,128 $4,540 $5,260 $6,578 $7,935
Yearly $37,540 $54,495 $63,123 $78,955 $95,242
    Yakima Hourly $29.15 $33.54 $38.80 $44.52 $49.55
Monthly $5,052 $5,812 $6,724 $7,715 $8,587
Yearly $60,635 $69,770 $80,706 $92,598 $103,060
United States Hourly $26.14 $33.04 $42.66 $54.55 $68.38
Monthly $4,530 $5,726 $7,393 $9,454 $11,850
Yearly $54,360 $68,730 $88,740 $113,460 $142,220

Wages vary by employer. The federal government and computer systems design companies pay some of the highest wages.

An increasing number of computer systems analysts work on short-term contracts. This means they may work for several companies over the course of a year. If analysts do not have new jobs lined up, they may experience periods of unemployment. As a result, their wages may be lower than those given here.

Full-time computer systems analysts usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include health insurance, paid vacation, and sick leave. Some employers also pay tuition for computer training courses and offer a retirement plan.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Computer systems analysts (SOC 15-1121)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 19,181 26.1% 16.1% 2,367
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 113 30.1% 13.4% 15
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 218 7.3% 8.6% 17
    Benton and Franklin Counties 356 19.4% 15.0% 38
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 213 22.5% 11.9% 24
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 801 27.2% 15.2% 100
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 1,760 15.2% 14.1% 173
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 329 21.0% 14.6% 37
    King County 12,760 31.3% 19.6% 1,730
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 188 11.7% 13.8% 16
    Pierce County 541 13.9% 15.2% 51
    Snohomish County 769 10.8% 12.4% 67
    Spokane County 869 24.7% 13.9% 104
United States 633,900 8.8% 5.2% 53,400

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation will be faster than average as companies seek to improve existing computer operations. Companies are also investing in newer, faster, and mobile technologies. Growth will be highest at companies that provide cloud-computing technology.

In addition, growth in this occupation is expected in the health care industry as it moves to electronic medical records and other updates in technology.

Growth in this occupation will be driven by very rapid growth in the computer and data processing services industry. This is expected to be one of the fastest growing industries in the US economy. Demand will also result from the need to replace employees who are promoted to other positions or who retire.

Other resources

American Medical Informatics Association (external link)
Association for Computing Machinery (external link)
1601 Broadway, 10th Floor1
New York, NY 10019-7434
Association for Women in Computing - Puget Sound Chapter (external link)
3743 S. 170th Street
Sea-Tac, WA 98188
Computing Research Association (external link)
1828 L Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036-4632
Computing Technology Industry Association (external link)
3500 Lacey Road, Suite 100
Downers Grove, IL 60515
IEEE Computer Society (external link)
2001 L Street NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
Information Technology Industry Council (external link)
1101 K Street NW, Suite 610
Washington, DC 20005
Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) (external link)
244 S Randall Road #116
Elgin, IL 60123


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational clusters