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How To Become a Systems Analyst & Design Efficient Systems
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How To Become a Systems Analyst & Design Efficient Systems

10 minute read | December 18, 2023
Sakshi Gupta

Written by:
Sakshi Gupta & reviewed by Akita Emmanuel

Sakshi Gupta

Reviewed by:
Akita Emmanuel

Ready to launch your career?

As digital-first companies implement increasingly complex and multifaceted networks, the role of systems analyst has become paramount in today’s digital landscape. They’re key players in determining the success of any organization that relies on an IT infrastructure and are responsible for making networks more efficient and user-friendly. 

The demand for systems analysts is already outpacing the supply, with Zippia estimating that there are over 141,000 vacancies in the United States today. And that isn’t expected to change anytime soon—in fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over 51,000 new systems analyst jobs will emerge in the next eight years. 

But if you go searching for a bachelor’s degree in systems analysis, you’re likely to come up short. For such an integral position, the path to becoming a systems analyst can seem quite murky. 

That’s why we’ve created this guide. Below, we’ll tell you all about how to become a systems analyst.  

What Does a Systems Analyst Do?

A systems analyst, sometimes called a systems architect, is a technology professional who analyzes an organization’s information system requirements and creates, maintains, and enhances those systems. 

The systems analyst position entails a range of responsibilities to help organizations with their IT requirements. Here are some of their main responsibilities: 

  • Evaluate an organization’s business goals and translate them into technological requirements 
  • Produce proposals for establishing new information technology systems and assist with the systems design process 
  • Collaborate with stakeholders to determine the performance of different parts of an IT system and come up with ways to enhance productivity 
  • Explore upgrades whenever possible and create cost-benefit analyses for those new devices
  • Document management information systems and instruction manuals to help employees use the hardware and software systems 

How To Become a Systems Analyst: An 7-Step Guide

As we’ve seen, the systems analyst role is key for any organization that is setting up its computing systems. The technological solutions that an analyst proposes help companies achieve their business goals and ensure smooth internal operations. Here’s what you need to do to achieve your dream of a systems analyst career.

  1. Educate Yourself

  2. Build Your Skillset

  3. Learn the Necessary Tools

  4. Your Network Is Your Net Worth

  5. Pursue an Internship

  6. Build Real-World Expertise With a Related Role

  7. Apply for Systems Analyst Positions

Educate Yourself

If you’re looking to gain a foundational understanding of systems analysis, one option you have is the college route. An educational background in computer science or IT can help you meet the minimum education requirement that some companies have. You can also transition into the field with a career in business administration if you’re willing to pick up the tech skills independently. 

Although college is a popular choice, there are also other education paths to consider. Nowadays, most companies are open to hiring candidates who have completed a data analytics bootcamp. Bootcamps can also be a great way to complement the skills that you’ve picked up as part of a college degree. 

It’s important that you see a degree or bootcamp as a milestone in a long journey. The theoretical knowledge that you gain from a degree is only a first step. You should keep moving forward in that process by completing courses and systems analyst certifications that help you hone specific skills. Speaking of skills, let’s take a look at the broad skillset that you need to make it in this field. 

Build Your Skillset

Systems analysts do work that contributes to an entire organization’s IT needs. For that reason, individuals in the role need to have a mix of technical knowledge and soft skills to enhance collaboration. 

Technical Skills

Here are some of the specific skills that you need to build in order to be a successful systems analyst.

Broad Hardware, Software, and Operating Systems 

Systems analysts come up with technology solutions that span both hardware and software interventions. Systems analysts who are able to come up with innovative solutions do so by having a solid understanding of different operating systems and knowledge of how they interface different hardware devices with software applications. 

Project Management

A skill that is often overlooked by system analysts is project management. It’s an important skill because this is a role where work is done simultaneously on different aspects of a system and requires inputs from various stakeholders. Having a broad understanding of project management can help you keep track of various tasks and manage your resources easily. 

Networks

Whenever large-scale hardware systems and software are involved, networks become a key component. You will, of course, work with network architects and network administrators, who will do the bulk of the heavy lifting in that department. However, it’s important that systems analysts are able to analyze network performance and collaborate with others to troubleshoot issues whenever they pop up. 

Database Management

Any system that transacts data requires a dependable database system. Systems analysts need to have a basic understanding of database design and management so that they can produce requirements and assess the output of collaborators like database administrators. 

Programming Skills

As we said earlier, you will find yourself working with different operating systems in your work as a systems analyst. In these situations, it helps if you’re familiar with some scripting languages like Python or Javascript. Knowing how to code in C++ and Java can also help you modify and manipulate system applications. 

Business Skills

The job of a systems analyst is inextricably linked to the business goals of the organization in which they work. As a result, they need to have a broad understanding of the industry in which their company operates and the specific short-term and long-term goals they have. 

Soft Skills

Hone these soft skills to bolster your career as a systems analyst:

Effective Communication

Systems analysts tend to be in constant communication with professionals such as business leaders, system administrators, business analysts, and network engineers. In such a situation, it is essential that you have strong interpersonal skills so that you can collaborate effectively with your team. 

Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills

Critical thinking skills are essential for success in systems analysis. You need to be able to think logically about what the needs of an organization are and how you can come up with technology solutions that can serve those goals. Similarly, analytical skills are an integral part of the job. They help you assess the performance of a system and determine the efficacy of proposed interventions. 

Learn the Necessary Tools

Here are a few tools that system analysts use to assist with specific tasks on the job:

  • Modern Requirements: A web-based tool that helps with project management tasks and facilitates collaboration
  • Axure: A prototyping tool that can come in handy when you need to come up with system designs
  • Ardoq: This is a tool that can help you keep track of different applications part of your enterprise architecture and automate parts of your application portfolio 
  • Databox: A performance management tool that can help you track specific metrics pertaining to business systems

Your Network Is Your Net Worth

When thinking about landing an early-career job, aspirants often focus on skills acquisition and job applications. Although those are important bases to cover, one of the easiest ways you can maximize your chances of landing a role is through networking. 

Building a network can help you gain access to roles that aren’t advertised and land jobs through referrals. Here are a few ways to build your network: 

LinkedIn

You can do part of your networking online by making sure to always have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile. Use your LinkedIn as a way to connect with recruiters and managers. Remember to post regularly and comment on others’ posts as a way to grow relationships in an organic manner. 

Conferences and Events 

Conferences bring together people who are passionate about systems analysis and related fields. You will also run into a lot of hiring managers at such events. You can find events that cater to your community on websites like Meetup.com

Online Communities

There are a number of groups that cater to system analysts on websites like Slack, Discord, and Facebook. You can look up these groups on the forums or social media channels that you’re active on as a way to connect with the larger community. Not only do some of these communities post open roles, but they’re also a great way to keep up with the latest developments in the space. 

Pursue an Internship

Internships are a great way to dip your toes in the professional world. They give you the opportunity to apply your skills in a relaxed manner and a way to determine whether you’re actually passionate about working as a systems analyst. 

You can find systems analyst internships on job sites like ZipRecruiter and LinkedIn. Once you do land an internship, try to make the most of the opportunity. Apart from completing your assigned tasks, take time to interact with different team members so that you can learn from their experience. 

Build Real-World Expertise With a Related Role

In some cases, you might find it hard to land an entry-level systems analyst role. Not to worry; you can always work in a related role and build up experience that is relevant to a system analyst role. Network engineer, database administrator, and data analyst are some of the roles you can explore as a way to gain valuable experience before applying to a systems analyst position. 

Apply for Systems Analyst Positions

Here are some things that you should do once you have the necessary skills and experience for a systems analyst role. 

Optimize Your Resume

A resume is your chance to make a strong first impression. You should make sure to have a strong resume that concisely communicates your educational background, technical skills, and relevant experience. Since companies often tend to screen resumes out using an automated mechanism, also ensure that you use the right resume keywords

Update Your LinkedIn Profile

Your LinkedIn profile should have a clean headshot along with a header that communicates that you’re looking for open roles. The meat of the profile should have the most up-to-date information on colleges you’ve attended, bootcamps or certifications you have under your belt, and any projects that you’ve worked on. 

Being active on LinkedIn can go a long way toward alerting recruiters to your availability as a candidate. So make time each week to connect with hiring managers and to post about your professional interests, new skills that you’ve picked up, etc. 

Prepare for Interviews

Practice can go a long way in helping you become a better interviewee. Doing mock interviews can help you assess your own body language and practice some of the questions that come up regularly in system analyst interviews. You can have a friend or family member throw questions at you and record your answers as part of your interview preparation process.

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How Much Can You Earn as a Systems Analyst?

The average salary of a junior systems analyst in the USA is just over $69,000. 

average salary of a junior systems analyst

The average data analyst’s salary is $98,384. 

What Does the Career Path of a Systems Analyst Look Like?

Typically, candidates enter the systems analyst role with a degree in computer science or IT. That educational background makes you eligible for a job as a junior systems analyst. At this stage, you mostly need technical proficiency in systems architecture and operating systems. 

Candidates with about five years of experience become eligible for senior systems analyst roles. You will need to upgrade your technical knowledge at this stage and familiarize yourself with systems thinking, information architecture, and database management. 

From here, you will have the option of working in management or remaining a part of the technical staff. The latter will entail assuming the role of systems analyst manager. Project management and leadership become key skills at this juncture. 

You can also consider a job as a principal systems analyst. These are professionals who are given the responsibility to oversee the construction and maintenance of entire business systems. It’s a role that requires strong analytical skills. Your responsibilities might include using business intelligence tools to track the impact of IT systems performance on business outcomes.  

However you decide to proceed, just make sure that you keep learning. Systems analysis is a constantly evolving domain, and if you want to progress in the field, you need to stay up-to-date on the latest trends. 

Becoming a Systems Analyst: Real-Life Examples

Here’s how two different systems analysts got to where they are today:

Christoph Puetz

YouTube video player for IHvDIjgUdHg

Among aspiring systems analysts, there is often very little understanding of what day-to-day life looks like in this profession. In the linked video, Christoph Puetz, who goes by IT Career Guide on YouTube, gives a detailed look at what a systems analyst’s daily responsibilities are and what specific tasks they’re usually assigned. 

Emily Billingham

how to become a systems analyst, real-life example, Emily Billingham

A job as a systems analyst at the organization that organizes Formula One? How exciting is that! Emily Billingham began her career as a timekeeper and moved up to the position of systems analyst. In the linked video, she talks about her journey and the attitude that it takes to make it as a systems analyst at a large organization. 

How To Become a Systems Analyst FAQs

We’ve got the answers to your most frequently asked questions.

Is Being a Systems Analyst a Good Career Choice?

Yes, systems analysis is a good career. It gives you the opportunity to do impactful work that connects business requirements to technological innovation.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Systems Analyst?

You can land a job as a systems analyst out of college with a degree in computer science or IT. Alternatively, you could gather two or three years of experience in a field like network engineering or data analytics before transitioning into a systems analysis role.

Do I Need a Degree To Become a Systems Analyst?

Most companies require that candidates have at least a bachelor’s degree in order to qualify for a systems analyst role.

Does a Systems Analyst Code?

Systems analysts don’t necessarily need to code as part of their job. However, it’s a valuable skill to have if you work in that role.

Since you’re here…
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About Sakshi Gupta

Sakshi is a Managing Editor at Springboard. She is a technology enthusiast who loves to read and write about emerging tech. She is a content marketer with experience in the Indian and US markets.