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How to become a Systems Analyst

systems analyst careers

What does a Systems Analyst do?

Systems analysts, increasingly known as business analysts, are IT specialists who are brought in by companies to evaluate their IT systems, business functions and procedures; identify areas for improvement; and design and integrate computer-based solutions to meet the particular business needs.

Solutions can range from designing new tailor-made IT networks to modifying the structure of existing information databases. An element of future-proofing is normally built in so as the business develops, the IT systems also evolve to encompass the changes. Analysts work in a wide range of sectors including IT, finance, local and central government, manufacturing, construction and engineering, and public bodies such as universities and health authorities.

The work can involve:
  • drawing up specific proposals for a modified or replacement system
  • working closely with programmers and developers who will build the system
  • carrying out assessments of the commercial feasibility of proposals
  • overseeing the installation of a new system
  • planning and working to a completion deadline
  • providing training and training manuals to users of a new or upgraded system.

After the solution is drawn up, the analyst oversees the testing and evaluation process to ensure any faults are corrected.

Computer Assisted Software Engineering (CASE) tools and object-orientated programming languages, such as Visual Basic, C++ , Java and Smalltalk, are increasingly used, which allow the analysis and programming functions to be combined and carried out within the same role.

What's the working environment like working as a Systems Analyst?

Most systems analysts work 37 to 40 hours a week. However, the intense nature of the work, which often involves deadlines and emergency problem solving, can lead to overtime and weekend work.

Work is office-based at their own company or on-site with the client. This may involve some travel or being away from home for lengthy periods.

What does it take to become a Systems Analyst?

As a systems analyst, you should:

  • have an extensive knowledge of hardware, software and programming
  • be able to gather and interpret data
  • have excellent communication skills, for discussing ideas with colleagues from technical and non-technical roles, and clients
  • have excellent analytical skills and creative approach to problem solving
  • have good negotiating skills
  • be able to plan and manage a project
  • have an appreciation of wider business demands
  • be able to work within a budget
  • be willing to update skills in line with developments within the sector
  • be able to work as part of a team.

Systems Analyst Career Opportunities

Opportunities are good with systems analysts employed across the whole range of commerce and industry, public services, utilities, defence and research.

Opportunities are available overseas, working for UK-based organisations, foreign companies or multinationals.

Career progression often involves promotion to senior or principal analyst and movement between companies is quite common to achieve this. There may be the option to become a specialist analyst in a particular field, for instance, finance or security. Experienced analysts can move into project management then strategic business planning; they can also become self-employed and work on a contract or consultancy basis.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Systems Analyst that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

e-skills UK
1 Castle Lane
London
SW1E 6DR
www.e-skills.com

British Computer Society
1 Sanford Street
Swindon
Wiltshire
SN1 1HJ
www.bcs.org.uk

Institute for the Management of Information Systems
5 Kingfisher House
New Mill Road
Orpington
Kent
BR5 3QG
Tel: 0700 002 3456
www.imis.org.uk

Institution of Analysts and Programmers
Charles House
36 Culmington Road
London
W13 9NH
www.iap.org.uk

Skills Framework for the Information Age
www.sfia.org.uk

Courses to help you become a Systems Analyst