Types of Analyst Careers

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If you have strong analytical skills, great people skills, and excel at logical thinking, a career in analysis may be what you’ve been searching for. Analysts generally evaluate investment opportunities by studying trends, evaluating data, and meeting with company officials to glean insights. Analysts can specialize in a variety of fields, including computers, finance, and management. Degrees are available at all levels, but graduate degrees offer the best advantage to jobseekers.

Analysts generally work in banks, insurance companies, security firms, and IT companies. Examples of specific types of analysts include business analysts, computer systems analysts, IT business analysts, ratings analysts, and risk analysts. The average salaries for careers related to analysts range from $65,000 - $84,000, depending on specialty. Employment growth is strong for analyst careers, at about 16%, which is higher than the national average.

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Here is an overview of different analyst careers:

Business Analyst

Business is all about staying one step ahead of the competition. This requires constant innovation. Business analysts, also known as management analysts, take a close look at businesses to find ways they can reduce waste and become more profitable.

What Is Business Analysis?

Business analysts identify changes that businesses can make to reduce the bottom line, streamline processes, and improve quality. Usually business analysts are hired by businesses as consultants. In many cases, the business has a particular area of its operations that it wants to improve, and the analyst’s job is to develop solutions. There are many dimensions to business analysis, just as there are many working parts in a business. Major areas of analysis include:

  • Business process modeling
  • Business strategy
  • Information technology solutions
  • Organizational structure & behavior
What Can I Learn in Business Analyst Training Courses?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most management analysts have at least a bachelor’s degree; 28 percent have a master’s.[1] Since formal training in management analysis or business consulting is not usually part of an undergraduate curriculum, prospective business analysts may choose to take supplementary courses.

Business analyst training courses help students develop the skills required in this career, such as good communication, analysis, problem-solving, and time management. Students also study the process of business analysis, from meeting with the client, to gathering information, to analyzing the situation.

What Classes Can I Take?
  • Business analysis project management
  • Business modeling
  • Communication with clients
  • Management & team building
  • Testing and validation
Where Can I Take Business Analysis Training Courses?

Business analyst training courses are now available from a variety of outlets.

  • Online Schools: Online institutions may offer single courses or certificates in business analysis, with a more flexible schedule.
  • Professional Organizations: Professional business groups such as the American Academy of Financial Management and the Association of Management Consulting Firms have their own professional development classes.
  • University Extension Programs: These branches of traditional colleges and universities offer enrichment courses to the local public.
Can I Earn a Business Analysis Certificate?

A certificate in business analysis provides a deeper look at analyst skills. These programs require 3-8 classes and typically allow students to choose a few electives in the specific analysis area that interests them.

What Work Environment Should I Expect as a Business Analyst?

The business analysis career is a good fit for individuals who enjoy a fast-paced work environment. Analysts travel often to meet with clients. Analysts who work for themselves have the added pressure of networking and finding new clients. Many business analysts report working more than 40 hours a week.[2]

What Job Opportunities Can I Look Forward to in This Field?

About one-quarter of business analysts are self-employed. The largest industries employing management analysts include management, scientific, and technical services; finance and insurance; the federal government; state and local government; and computer systems design.[2]

A 22 percent increase in positions is expected in the next few years. This is faster-than-average job growth. More businesses will be using consultants to find success in an increasingly competitive business world. Business analyst training courses may help analysts improve their skills and find a job in this competitive career. Due to the high salaries in this profession, job competition is predicted to be strong even for the well qualified.[3]

What Earning Potential Will I Have as a Business Analyst?
  • Average Salary: $78,000
  • Lowest 10%: $44,000 and less
  • Highest 10%: $139,000 and up[4]

Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts help businesses build the most effective information systems possible. To do this, they combine an understanding of management and information technology (IT).  Systems analysts use information science tools to evaluate a business's IT systems. Then they make recommendations for ways the systems could be improved. A bachelor's degree in a computer or technical field is the most common way to enter this career.

What Should I Know About the Computer Systems Analyst Career?

Computer systems analysts often work as consultants. This allows them to provide an outside perspective on an organization's computer systems. Other computer systems analysts work within a company. The analyst's job is to upgrade information systems or shift resources to help the organization meet its goals. The following tasks are major responsibilities of computer systems analysts:

  • Developing budgets for the future purchase of information systems.
  • Discussing the business's overall strategy with managers, to see how IT fits into the organization's goals.
  • Instructing members of the organization on the use of new information systems.
  • Purchasing new IT systems and seeing that they are installed correctly.
  • Using software and information modeling to understand an organization's use of information systems.
What Education and Training Do I Need to Become a Computer Systems Analyst?

A bachelor's degree in management information systems, computer science, information technology, or another technical area is the usual path for entering this career. Management information systems (MIS) is more tailored to the job than a purely technical degree. The MIS program combines business and information systems coursework.

The type of degree you will need for a computer systems analyst job will depend on the career path you want. Some positions require more management and communication expertise. In this case, a liberal arts or nontechnical degree, combined with programming experience, may be sufficient. On the other hand, analysts that deal with complicated technical problems may need a master's degree in computer science.

Since computer systems analysts often work with managers, employers may prefer applicants who have the Master of Business Administration (MBA). These degrees require two years of upper-level business coursework.

What Courses Would I Take During a Management Information Systems Degree?

Management information systems is one of the most relevant majors for people set on entering the computer systems analyst career. The following are common courses in the MIS degree:

  • Business systems application development
  • Database management systems
  • Finance and accounting
  • Information systems project management
  • Managing innovation
  • Network security
  • Strategic management
What Skills Will I Need To Succeed in This Career?
  • Ability to analyze information: Analysts have to process complicated information and create actionable steps based on this information.
  • Ability to communicate clearly: Analysts have to work with management and technical professionals in the IT department. They need to be able to speak the language of business, as well as the language of technology.
  • Ability to see the big picture: Analysts have to assess how all the information systems components, form hardware to networks, work together to help a business achieve its goals.
What Work Environment and Career Opportunities Can I Expect in This Field?

Analysts are employed in a number of industries. About 25 percent work in computer systems design services, while 14 percent work in finance and insurance. Other important industries include information, private-sector management, and government. In general, computer systems analysts can expect to work standard 40-hour weeks.[1]

What Job Growth Can I Look Forward to as a Computer Systems Analyst?

Overall, the computer systems analyst job market will be growing at a faster-than-average rate during the next few years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This isn't too surprising, since the power and usefulness of IT continues to expand at a rapid rate. New jobs will be springing up in the healthcare sector, as recent laws require care facilities to move to electronic medical records. There is also expected to be an expansion of hiring by IT consulting firms. This is due to the fact that small businesses will need additional computing services and are likely to hire consultants to help them expand their information systems.[2]

Professional organizations such as the Association for Computing Machinery and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society are good resources for finding available job opportunities.

What Salary Would I Earn in a Systems Analysis Career?

Computer systems analysis is a well-paying career. The average salary is just under $78,000 a year. Pay varies by industry, with those in computer systems design earning about $81,000 a year and those in government earning about $70,000.[3]

IT Business Analyst

Information technology business analysts help businesses through their combined understanding of information systems and business strategy. They help organizations use their computer systems more effectively and incorporate new technologies into their approach.

What Would I Do as an IT Business Analyst?

Also known as computer systems analysts, IT business analysts work with business managers to leverage information systems. Systems analysts are often outside consultants who are hired to provide a clear perspective on the business's computer systems use. These analysts first collect information on the organization's information technology use. Then they use a variety of tools to dissect this data. For example, most use computer software and modeling programs to look for ways to optimize the information technology performance. IT systems analysts might work with managers to do the following tasks, after examining data on the business's information systems:

  • Code and debug new information systems, to make them work for the organization's specific needs.
  • Craft long-term goals for upgrading information technology.
  • Develop budgets and timelines for installing new computer systems.
  • Run diagnostic tests to optimize new and old systems.
  • Select new computer hardware or software that could improve productivity.
  • Test the new systems they have implemented.
What Training Do I Need to Become an IT Business Analyst?

A bachelor's degree is the usual entry-level requirement for becoming a computer systems analyst. For those without an undergraduate degree, the management information systems (MIS) bachelor's program can be a good choice. These programs combine training in information technology with a core of business classes. Students study IT trends, IT strategy, finance, leadership, management, project management, networking, communication, and Web development. Many MIS bachelor's require an internship in a business technology setting, during the degree.

If you already have a bachelor's degree, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) can be a good option. These two- to three-year programs include classes in practical business operations, like financial management, economics, strategic management, marketing, and human resources. Many MBAs also offer specializations in information systems and information technology. During the final year of the degree, students take electives in technical areas like IT strategy, IT project management, and enterprise information systems.

On the other hand, if you hope to work in a more technical capacity rather than on the business side of systems analysis, a master's in computer science might be a better fit. Students take a core of advanced computer science classes, and many programs also require a research-based thesis. This degree would be more appropriate for individuals who want to work mainly on programming analysis, optimizing software and hardware for a particular organization. Software quality assurance analysts, who debug information systems, can also benefit from the computer science program.

What Additional Coursework Will I Need to Succeed in Computer Systems Analysis?

If you hope to work on information systems in a particular industry, such as finance, healthcare, or engineering, it helps to have a background in the basics of that sector. For example, healthcare systems analysts might also take classes in healthcare administration and healthcare security, and analysts who want to work in finance could take classes in financial management and financial software. The Association for Computing Machinery, Computing Research Association, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Computer Society have more information about starting a career in systems analysis.

What Work Environment Can I Expect in IT Business Analysis?

The largest industry employing IT business analysts is computer systems design firms, which employ about one-quarter of all analysts. Other major industries include finance and insurance, information, and government. About 7 percent work in management positions within businesses. Many systems analysts work as consultants. They may work as part of a consulting firm, or they may work independently. Consultants can expect to travel often to different businesses. Consultants may also teleconference to work remotely with business managers.[1]

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