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Analyst Degrees

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For those who have strong analytical skills, great people skills, and who excel at logical thinking, a career as an analyst may be a good fit. “Analyst” is a broad term that covers a wide array of career options, including jobs in the fields of computer science, finance, and management. A bachelor's degree is what is typically needed to get started in one of these careers, but a master's can provide better job opportunities and advancement possibilities. Analysts may work in a variety of locations, such as insurance companies, security firms, IT companies, and the government. Three types of common analyst careers are management analyst, computer systems analyst, and budget analyst.

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Types of Analyst Careers

Management Analysts

Management analysts are professionals who study a business or organization and then propose ideas to the management on how to run things more efficiently, and how to bring in more money while spending less. Usually, they are either self-employed or work in a consulting agency, and then they are hired on a contract basis by the companies that they analyze. However, some management analysts may be hired by one business or organization and work solely for them.

The typical day-to-day duties of a management analyst include interviewing and observing employees, collecting information on the organization they are working for, studying financial data, and proposing solutions to problems that they find. They can work in a variety of settings, including technical and scientific consulting firms, insurance companies, and the federal or state government. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median salary for management analysts is $81,320, and there is an expected 14 percent increase in jobs between 2014 and 2024.

Education

Bachelor's Degree

Individuals who are interested in finding work as a management analysts will need at least a bachelor's degree. This degree will typically be earned in business or a related field, such as management, finance, or accounting. Other subjects that a student might study in college that will prepare them for a career in management analysis include government, psychology, and even English.

A bachelor's degree usually takes four years of full-time study to complete. If a student is pursuing a degree in business or a similar subject that will likely take courses that cover the topics of business systems analysis, business law, human resources, micro and macroeconomics, and business statistics.

In order to be admitted to a bachelor's program a student will need to have at least a high school diploma or GED. Depending on the school, SAT or ACT test scores may be required, as well as an admissions essay or statement of purpose. Tuition for these programs varies greatly based on the school. For instance, a student in Southern New Hampshire State University's Bachelor of Science in Business Administration program can expect to send around $9,600 a year, while a student earning the same degree through Arizona State University Online will spent about $18,000 a year.

Master of Business Administration

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is not necessary to begin a career as a management analysis, but it can be helpful when it comes to promotions, and some employers will look more favorably on job applicants who have an MBA. In an MBA program, students will study more advanced business topics, and participants may choose to concentrate their study in a specialization area, such as finance, management information systems, or management and organizations. Typical MBA classes will cover such topics as business environment and leadership, ethics and leadership, business analytics, and marketing management.

An MBA can take one to two years to complete, depending on how many classes a student takes each term and whether or not they take any breaks between terms. In order to be admitted to an MBA an applicant will need to have a bachelor's degree, although it does not necessarily have to have been in business. Other typical application requirements include a professional resume, admissions essay, letter of recommendation, and GRE or GMAT test scores. It is also not uncommon for an MBA program to be designed specifically for those who already have some professional experience.

Tuition for these programs will of course vary depending on the school the student chooses to attend. Some programs, like Kaplan University's online MBA, cost less than $15,000 a year, while other programs, such as USC Marshall's online MBA, have an annual tuition of over $45,000. Scholarships and other funding opportunities may be available, and prospective students should check with the school they wish to attend to find out about program-specific funding opportunities.

Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts help businesses build effective information systems. 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.

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. Day-to-day duties for a computer systems analyst may include 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, and purchasing and installing new IT systems.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer systems analyst jobs will increase by 21 percent between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also reports that the median yearly salary for one of these professionals is $85,800, as of May 2015.

Education

Bachelor's Degree

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.

Students enrolled in a management information systems degree can expect to take classes covering the topics of business systems application development, database management systems, finance and accounting,information systems project management, network security, and strategic management. In order to be admitted to one of these programs applicants will need to have at least earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Tuition for these programs will vary. Online degree options can be found for around $10,500 or less a year.

The type of degree that an individual need for a computer systems analyst job will depend on the career path they 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.

Master's Degree

A master's degree may be required by some employers and can also lead to advancement opportunities in the field. There are different types of graduate degrees that may be beneficial for a computer systems analyst to earn. For instance, analysts that deal with complicated technical problems may need a master's degree in computer science. Also, since computer systems analysts often work with managers, employers may prefer applicants who have the Master of Business Administration (MBA). Those who are pursuing the MBA option will want to look for a program that offers a concentration in information systems.

A Master of Science in Computer Science will typically take around two years to complete. This type of degree program will provide students with a greater understanding of topics relating to computers and computer systems. Coursework will include classes on web technologies, artificial intelligence, algorithms, software development, and programming.

In order to be admitted to a computer science master's program a student will need a bachelor's degree, though it does not necessarily have to be in computer science. Applicants that don't have a computer science bachelor's degree will need to have some other background in the field that shows that they have the foundation of knowledge that they will need to succeed in the program. In addition, prospective students will need to submit a statement of purpose, GRE test scores, and letters of recommendation. Tuition varies by program, and can run anywhere from less than $10,000 a year to $20,000 a year or more.

Budget Analysts

Budget analysts are professionals who work to organize finances for various organizations and businesses. They use their strong background in math and accounting to assist a variety of groups, such as businesses, colleges, nonprofits, and government agencies. Their day-to-day duties may include reviewing budget proposals, working with management to create a budget, reviewing financial information to make sure budget goals are being met, and making recommendations on spending. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that budget analyst jobs will increase by three percent between 2014 and 2024. As of May 2015, the median salary for a budget analyst was $71,590.

Education

Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree is the minimum required education needed to become a budget analyst. Students who are interested in this career should pursue a degree that will give them a strong basis in math and analytical thinking, such as accounting, business, or statistics. A degree in an area such as public administration, sociology, or political science could also prepare someone for this career.

A degree in accounting may be one of the most fitting to get an individual ready for this job. Students who are enrolled in an accounting bachelor's degree will not only get a firm basis in accounting but business principles as well. Coursework will include such classes on such topics as cost accounting, federal taxation, auditing principles, business law, organizational behavior, and finance.

Admissions to a bachelor's degree program will require a high school diploma or equivalent. Other requirements will vary by program and school and may include an admissions essay, SAT or ACT scores, or a letter of recommendation. Tuition also varies from program to program. Some bachelor's degree program will cost less than $10,000 a year, while others may cost close to $20,000 or more.

Master's Degree

Though a master's degree likely won't be required to enter this career field, some employers may prefer job candidates who have one, and a graduate degree can help secure opportunities for advancement. A Master or Science in Accounting in one type of degree that an individual might pursue. Coursework in one of these programs will cover such topics as international accounting, corporate finance, economics for business, professional research for accountants, and current issues in accounting.

A master's degree in accounting may take anywhere from as little as 15 months to complete to two years, depending on the program. In order to be admitted a prospective student will need to have a bachelor's degree in accounting. Other admission requirements may include submitting GRE or GMAT scores, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose or admissions essay. Tuition for a master's program in accounting will vary based on the school attended. It is possible to find programs with tuition rates falls between $7,000 and $10,000, but there are also programs with higher rates reaching up to $20,000 a year or more.

Program Accreditation

When choosing a program, students should keep accreditation in mind. Program accreditation is when an independent, outside organization evaluates a school to see if a program meets certain standards of quality. The AACSB is the accrediting agency in charge of business and accounting programs. Those who are interested in attending a business or accounting program at the bachelor's, master's, or doctoral level should seek out programs that are accredited by the AACSB. This internationally-recognized accreditation assures students that they are receiving a quality education that will prepare them for the workforce.

Students who are interested in computer science programs should seek out one that is accredited by ABET. Like with AACSB accreditation, students who are earning an ABET-accredited degree can be assured that their program has been evaluated against a rigorous set of standards, and that the education they receive will prepare them for their professional lives.

Certification

Depending on what kind of analyst a professional works as, there may be certificates available that they can earn to show their expertise and dedication to the profession. Although not necessarily required, certification can help an individual secure advanced job opportunities.

The Certified Government Financial Manager certificate is available for budget analysts that work for the government. This certificate is provided by the Association of Government Accountants. In order to obtain this certification, an analyst must pass a few different tests, as well as have a bachelor's degree, 24 credits of financial management education, and two years of experience in government finance management. There is a continuing education requirement of 80 hours every two years in order to maintain the certificate.

Management analysts might be interested in earning the Certified Management Consultant credential from the Institute of Management Consultants USA. This certificate is available a three different levels: Basic, Experienced, and Management. The Basic certification is available to those with three to nine years of experience as a management consultant, while the Experienced level is for those with 10 or more years of experience, and the Management level is for those with 20 or more years of experience. No matter the level, applicants will also have to submit reviews written by their clients, as well as pass an exam.

References

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