Computer systems analysts play important roles in most companies

Sydney Cardwell has been fascinated with computers since she was a child.

"It was like a big toy, and when I got older I realized the computer could take you into the worlds of law, health care, business and, of course, information technology," said Cardwell, a junior at Herzing University Atlanta, who is working toward a bachelor's degree in information technology with a concentration in security technology.

Cardwell’s nimble mind and love of computers could serve her well in the years ahead if she lands a job as a computer systems analyst. Greater reliance on computer systems in organizations throughout the economy has accelerated the demand for computer system analysts.

Nationally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says computer systems analyst jobs are expected to grow by 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average of all occupations. In Georgia ,  those jobs are expected to increase 3 percent, or about 330 new jobs annually, according to the Georgia Department of Labor’s Office of Workforce Statistics and Economic Research.

In the workplace, computer systems analysts study an organization’s current computer systems and procedures. They look for ways to help the organization operate more efficiently and effectively, and make recommendations to management. They may be responsible for design and the development of new computer systems, or customizing an existing system. They typically perform testing to make sure systems are working, and they may train end users or write instruction manuals.

The average entry-level salary for computer systems analysts in Georgia is $46,370. The average wage for all those jobs is $77,070 annually and an experienced computer systems analyst could expect an annual wage of $113,170, according to data from the Georgia Student Finance Commission.

Upon graduation from Herzing University, Cardwell plans to join the U.S. Air Force to continue her education while she serves in the military. Cardwell’s goal is to earn advanced degrees that will qualify her to be an Air Force cyberspace operator. In that role, she hopes to work on security systems that protect data that is transmitted via satellite from being hacked.

Cardwell said the learning environment at Herzing has bolstered her confidence.

“They make sure you are career-focused here and have all the materials you need to do well,” she said. “I also like the classes because there may only be 10 in the class, so you get the one-on-one time if you need it. We are like a family."

“Technology is always changing and the pace is very fast,” said Jose Cardenas, who chairs the computer science department at Herzing University Atlanta. “There is always something new, like you are on a high-speed rollercoaster. People who love the field are going to find that amazing.”

Cardenas said many systems analysts continue to take classes throughout their careers to remain competitive, or they learn systems that are specific to the industry in which they work, such as retail or hospital billing systems.

“You must constantly update your skills, but it’s fun,” he said.

Cardenas said many organizations require a computer systems analyst to have an appropriate bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field, or an associate degree and experience in a related occupation.

“Entry-level jobs do exist, but typically the entry-level person will simply execute what has been planned by someone else,” Cardenas said. “A systems analyst must have a solid foundation in mathematics and statistics, computer programming and logic, database and web development and good communications skills.”

Herzing’s  computer program offers associate of science degrees in computer networking and security technology, and bachelor’s degrees in computer science and software engineering. Classes are offered online, on campus or a combination of both.

Students who are returning to college can often transfer credits from other institutions, which can save time and money spent toward their Herzing degree. The school’s accelerated program makes it possible to complete a bachelor’s degree program in three years.