Every company and organization that operates a computer network—which includes pretty much all of them—must accommodate a crazy mishmash of users, computing systems, and functions.
The challenges are diverse and complex. Different departments need different software suites to accomplish their work. The art department is all on Macs, while the accounting team is all Windows, all the time. Tech is running state-of-the-art machines while Bob in acquisitions still has the same Gateway desktop he’s been using for 30 years. The whole enterprise has to be kept secure and operating at maximum efficiency so that no one’s time is wasted by crashing apps and turgid downloads.
Someone has to look at this patchwork mess and figure out how to make it work. When something is jamming up the system, someone has to figure out what that something is and how to remedy the problem. Enter the IT systems analyst. Systems analysts understand hardware, software, cloud servers, and unpredictable users. They can see how all these elements interact and how those interactions can go south. And they know how to fix it all.
Based on that description, you’d probably guess that these professionals earn a million billion dollars a year. Sadly, they earn quite a bit less, but they still can make a decent living, and they also gain on-the-job experience that prepares them for higher-paying occupations later in their careers.
If you’re wondering about the average IT systems analyst salary, read on. In this article, we’ll cover:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), systems analysts earn a median annual income of $88,740. Those who work as consultants on an hourly basis—a not-uncommon work situation for analysts—earn, on average, $42.66 per hour.
The BLS reports that the bottom 10 percent of systems analysts—basically, entry-level employees—earn an average income of $54,360. The top 10 percent make $142,220 per year.
The BLS projects that jobs in this area will grow by 9 percent between 2018 and 2028, adding another 56,000 positions over that period. That growth rate in employment is about 1.5 times the rate for the US job market as a whole.
Job-posting websites generally offer lower income estimates than does the BLS:
I.T. encompasses a vast spectrum of systems and applications. They include common networks most of us use every day, such as telephone and point-of-sale systems. At the other end of the spectrum are comparatively obscure, poorly understood systems like blockchain, used in cryptocurrencies and other transactions. In between lie background systems such as databases and inventory management, crucial to businesses, corporations, and government agencies. (
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the computer and information technology job market should grow by 15 percent between 2021 and 2031, creating more than 682,000 new jobs. Earning a Master of Science in Information Technology builds skill sets in critical areas that include cloud computing, algorithms, big data, business intelligence, cybersecurity, data science, machine learning, and IT management, among others. ( )
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Multiple factors can impact an IT systems analyst’s earning potential. They include skill set, level of experience, location, and industry.
Some skills are essential to any systems analyst’s success. These include:
Other skills fall under the category of specializations. They help distinguish one systems analyst from another, and they can positively impact an analyst’s compensation. These include:
This is just a small sampling of the hundreds of skills listed as “preferred” in job postings. Obviously, no one can master them all. The more you have in your toolkit, however, the more valuable you will be to prospective employers.
Certifications are an excellent way to demonstrate areas of expertise and experience. Many job postings for systems analysts prefer or require specific certifications. Among those most commonly listed:
According to Glassdoor, a systems analyst with no previous work experience earns an average salary of $55,363. After one to three years, that figure increases to $57,526, then jumps to $63,966 at four to six years of experience. The site reports that a systems analyst with 10 to 14 years of experience earns a base salary of $73,268, plus another potential $1,000 to $15,000 in incentives.
PayScale sets the starting salaries for systems analysts at $54,611, plus another $6,000 in potential incentives. A mid-career systems analyst can expect to earn $70,000 in salary and another $6,000 in incentives, on average. Late-career analysts earn an average salary of $82,470, plus another $7,000 in potential incentives.
According to the BLS, pay for systems analysts is best in the following industries:
The average annual income in the most popular IT systems analyst industry—computer systems design and related services (178,810 jobs in 2018)—returns an annual average income of $91,950.
Unsurprisingly, top-paying systems analyst jobs tend to be located in places with a high cost of living. States in which systems analysts earn the most include:
The lowest-paying states? Mississippi ($66,790), Alaska ($70,390), and Arkansas ($71,990).
The top-paying metropolitan areas include:
So, what exactly is an IT systems analyst expected to do for all that moolah? A systems analyst’s to-do list typically includes the following:
To be an effective systems analyst, you need a solid grounding in information technology fundamentals and the principles of modern computing. For many systems analyst positions, a bachelor’s degree is sufficient to acquire the required knowledge and skills. There is no optimal college major for systems analysts, although they are most likely to have focused on least one of the following:
You don’t need a master’s degree to become a systems analyst, but having one won’t hold you back, either. More likely, you will take a job as a systems analyst once you graduate from college. After accruing work experience, you’ll go back to school to get that master’s degree to qualify for a better-paying and/or higher-responsibility job.
When the time is right, consider one of the following degrees:
After establishing yourself as a systems analyst, you’ll have several options for advancing your career. You can specialize in a more specific area of analytics, or you can angle for a management role.
Your options include:
Questions or feedback? Email firstname.lastname@example.org