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Systems analyst

Systems analysts look at a company's IT infrastructure and work out where to make improvements.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £20,000 to £62,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll usually need industry experience and a Higher National Diploma (HND), apprenticeship or degree. Relevant degree subjects include:

  • computer science
  • information management systems
  • business information systems
  • maths and operational research
  • electronic engineering

An Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) degree is also available through The Tech Partnership.

If you already have a non-IT related degree, you could complete a postgraduate IT conversion course which focuses on business skills as well as technical ability.

Companies will still want to see relevant work experience and you'll be expected to have a working knowledge of programming languages and how systems work.

You could work your way up by taking an apprenticeship in IT. They are available at advanced, higher and degree levels.

Another option is to get a job in IT or business and take part-time qualifications.

The Chartered Institute for IT (BCS) has details of Business Analysis Certifications. There are no entry requirements for the Foundation Certificate.

The Institution of Analysts and Programmers (IAP) has information on education and training.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • programming skills
  • the ability to understand systems and solve problems
  • excellent communication and presentation skills
  • project management and budgeting skills
  • strong attention to detail

3. What you'll do

You could work ‘in-house’ for a large organisation like an IT corporation, or for a small business. You could also work for a firm of consultants who go into many different businesses for specific projects.

Your work could be in the public sector like government departments or the NHS, or in the private sector like financial services.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • working out the business needs of your employer or client
  • drawing up plans to improve or replace an IT system
  • working out the costs and time needed to make your plans work
  • working closely with programmers and software developers to build systems
  • overseeing testing to find problems before the final version of a system goes live
  • training staff and writing instruction manuals for new or upgraded systems

You'll need to make sure that your designs are future-proof, and are flexible enough to adapt as the organisation or business grows.

You'll use various computer-assisted software engineering (CASE) tools and programming methods.

4. Salary

Starter: £20,000 to £25,000

Experienced: £30,000 to £45,000

Highly Experienced: up to £62,000

Salaries will depend on the size and location of the company you work for and the sector you work in.

Self-employed consultants set their own rates.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work 37 to 40 hours a week. You may have to work overtime, including weekends, to meet deadlines or solve critical technical problems.

Overnight stays away may sometimes be necessary. You may also be expected to travel outside the UK, if your company has clients in other countries.

You'll usually be based in an office, working either at your employer's premises or at your client's site. As a consultant you may be able to work more flexibly or from home.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could be promoted to senior analyst. You might also move into project management or strategic business planning.

You could become a specialist analyst in a particular field like finance or retail.

You could set up your own business and work on a contract or consultancy basis.

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Last updated: 25 October 2017