What Do System Analysts Do? (With Salary and Key Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

System analysts work with computer software and ensure their clients have the best software for their needs. There are many job opportunities for system analysts, whether they wish to work with several clients or for one specific company. Understanding the role of a system analyst helps those interested in this career to determine if it's a good fit for them. In this article, we discuss what do system analysts do, the entry requirements for system analyst roles and salary expectations for the position.

What do system analysts do?

If you're interested in this career, you may wonder, 'What do system analysts do?' These professionals, also known as system architects, work with organisations to ensure their software systems are meeting the needs of the business. They survey current systems, assess the needs of the organisation and advise management about innovations to improve productivity. They're also responsible for researching new technology and software, so they can advise about the suitability of new innovations for the business. Some of their responsibilities include:

  • maintaining and troubleshooting database programme issues

  • researching emerging technologies and evaluating whether they may be beneficial for the business to implement

  • discussing users' needs to advise how to use systems and software most efficiently

  • identifying areas of poor performance to find solutions that improve productivity

  • training users to utilise new software and creating instruction manuals for them to refer to

  • conducting cost-benefit analysis and preparing reports about new technologies

  • communicating strategic decisions with other members of the IT department

System analysts work across a diverse range of industries and both large organisations and startups require their services. They may work on systems analysis for one organisation, with a range of clients on behalf of a large organisation or with their own clients as a freelancer.

Related: 10 Computer Science Careers (With Salaries and Duties)

System analyst entry requirements

System analysts typically have a broad skill set, formal education and certifications in their speciality too. Entry requirements for system analyst roles typically include:

Key skills

System analysts have a balance of technical expertise and soft skills, such as communication and interpersonal skills. A passion for information technology is necessary, as their work is heavily technology-focused. Essential skills include:

  • Technical analysis: Employers and clients rely on their system analysts to be knowledgeable about emerging technologies. System analysts remain up to date about new hardware and software to assess and evaluate which products are worthwhile for their clients.

  • Business analysis: System analysts rely on their business analysis skills to identify the needs of their clients and suggest solutions for them. Analysts investigate product options and consider the long-term and short-term results of implementing new products, all while weighing up the cost of new technologies.

  • Critical thinking: Problem-solving is an important part of system analysts' roles. To effectively resolve business systems challenges, system analysts use their critical thinking skills to identify problems, consider available options, implement technological solutions and study the results of the change to monitor if it has worked.

  • Communication: System analysts liaise with a variety of different people on a daily basis, including supervisors, colleagues from other departments, clients and software providers. They often communicate effectively via all mediums so that they're able to effectively train colleagues, learn about emerging technologies and assess clients' technological needs.

  • Systems administration skills: While large organisations may have a dedicated systems administrator, system analysts may also complete administration duties. Some of the system administration tasks that analysts complete include overseeing user access, troubleshooting issues and installing new software.

  • Technical skills: These refer to the essential hard skills system analysts use to perform complex tasks involving both hardware and software. These skills are essential for systems analysts to use, evaluate and implement new technology solutions.

This combination of interpersonal skills and technical competence enables system analysts to provide technological solutions to clients, liaise with colleagues and excel in their careers.

Related: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Education requirements

Employers typically require system analysts to hold a bachelor's degree. While technology-focused courses are desirable, other programmes that entail computer-related coursework also help. Subjects to consider for a bachelor's degree include:

  • computer science

  • information technology

  • computer engineering

  • information systems

While it's not a requirement for all system analyst roles, a master's degree in business administration gives candidates an advantage, as system analysts often understand the complex needs of a business. System analysts typically pursue further certifications relating to IT, online security and software specific courses.

System analysts' average salary

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for system analysts in Australia is $88,196 per year. This may vary depending on experience, location, employer and the industry analysts work in. With extensive experience, salaries for system analysts can increase significantly.

Related: Salary vs. Wage: What's the Difference?

How to become a system analyst

There are a variety of pathways you can tread to become a systems analyst. To meet the entry requirement for many system analyst positions, you may consider taking the following steps:

1. Pursue a bachelor's degree

Many employers require system analysts to graduate from a bachelor's programme in an IT or computer-related subject. To determine whether a degree is essential, review open vacancies for system analysts in your area and review the job descriptions to better understand what employers are looking for. While this helps to identify suitable bachelor's degrees, ensure you're interested in the subject. As degree programmes are a significant investment of time and money, it's important to be passionate about the subject to help you remain committed.

Pursuing advanced degree programmes, such as a masters course in IT-related subjects or business, gives candidates an edge as they have a greater understanding of business and IT challenges.

2. Gain relevant work experience

Many employers look for candidates with extensive experience to qualify for system analyst roles. For recent graduates, it can be difficult to enter the field without relevant work experience. To gain experience alongside your studies, look for internship opportunities. Internships provide a chance for prospective system analysts to gain real-world experience within an IT department.

Other ways to gain work experience include graduate programs and entry-level positions within IT departments. Once you're working in an IT position, look out for system analyst vacancies with your employer as internal candidates have the benefit of already understanding how the business operates.

Related: How To Show Work Experience on Your Resume (With Example and Tips)

3. Consider additional certifications

Earning additional certifications in your field shows employers that you're passionate about the work you do and are committed to developing your skills. Additional training can also help system analysts to specialise in a particular field, whether that's cyber security, software engineering or cyber solutions. There are several vendor and non-vendor certifications available that can be beneficial for systems analysts, with vendor certifications providing analysts with in-depth knowledge about how to optimise their software.

For those wanting to progress into senior management roles, pursuing management courses alongside further IT training helps prepare them for the challenges of leading an IT team or department.

4. Update your resume

Keeping your resume up to date is important. As you pursue further training and gain experience in relevant roles, add these details to your resume so that hiring managers can see your efforts to pursue professional development. If you've undertaken several professional certifications, include the most advanced and relevant certificates rather than an extensive list of all training you've undertaken.

Tailoring your resume to each role you apply for helps to show employers you're exactly the candidate they're looking for. Review advertised positions carefully and read job descriptions to identify the key skills and qualifications needed for the role. Once you've established what each employer is seeking, adapt your resume to highlight the skills and qualifications you have that match their requirements.

5. Apply for systems analyst positions

Perform a search in your geographic area for open positions for systems analysts. Identify the roles for which you're most qualified based on your education and experience levels. Apply using your updated resume and a cover letter highlighting any quantifiable results you have achieved in previous roles.

If you're already working in an IT department and an internal opportunity arises for a system analyst, consider approaching your manager or the hiring manager for the role. An informal conversation with a manager offers the chance to find out more about the role so that you can prepare the best possible application. Arranging an informal conversation with the hiring manager also presents the opportunity to introduce yourself in a relaxed environment, express your interest in the role and ask questions you may have about what the role entails.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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