What Is the Best Degree Path for Becoming a Computer Systems Analyst?

If you’re torn between pursuing a technical computer degree and forging out into the world of business, a career as a computer systems analyst could be the perfect compromise. These professionals use their technology skills and business know-how to develop computer systems that help businesses better organize and manage information. Their work requires them to understand and configure hardware and software to create complete and efficient computer systems. Computer systems analysts have the skills to modify and update existing systems and develop new ones. In addition to allowing candidates to merge both interests, the profession includes advantages like a comfortable salary and job satisfaction.

An Undergraduate Degree in a Computer-Related Subject

First and foremost, an aspiring computer systems analyst will need to learn about computers. Most candidates develop their knowledge through a formal college education, earning a bachelor’s degree in a subject such as information science. Majoring in information science will provide students with a strong foundation in both technology and business, including coursework in database design, software development, project management and social psychology, according to U.S. News & World Report.

While an information sciences degree path is often preferable, computer science is another popular choice for aspiring computer systems analysts. Although a computer science degree program can prepare students for this career, computer scientists and computer system analysts serve different roles. A degree program in computer science often won’t have the same focus on business that a degree in information technology does.

Not every computer systems analyst prepares for the career by studying computers. Even a degree in business or liberal arts can be a starting point for this career path, as long as the student also cultivates some computer programming or information technology skills, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported.

Beyond the Bachelor’s Degree

Often, computer systems analysts continue their education beyond their undergraduate studies. Some choose to advance their careers by earning a graduate degree, most commonly a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Even professionals who don’t pursue an advanced degree often take classes to keep up-to-date on ever-evolving computer technology. Computer systems analysts can also enhance their career opportunities by taking courses related to their business niche, like finance or health management, according to the BLS. 

Work as a computer systems analyst can be both lucrative and fulfilling. These professionals earn a median salary of $79,680 per year, the BLS reported. They can also look forward to a high rate of job growth, with the BLS predicting a 25 percent increase in opportunities in this field over just a decade. Factors like the salary, demand and flexibility led U.S. News & World Report to rank the occupation highly on several career lists, including Best STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Jobs, Best Technology Jobs, the 100 Best Jobs and Best Paying Jobs. Even the opportunity to combine two passions, computer technology and business, adds to the fulfilling nature of the job.

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