What's the Difference Between Systems Analysts & Systems Administrators?

While a systems administrator focuses on setting up and maintaining the networks associated with a computer system, a systems analyst configures specific software and hardware to solve problems and improve the performance of computer systems. Schools offering Computer Systems Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Systems Analysts Versus Systems Administrators Overview

While both positions play intricate parts in the advancement of almost any organization, there are subtle differences between systems analysts and systems administrators. Outlined below are some specifics about each profession.

Important Facts About Systems Analysts Versus Systems Administrators

Systems Analyst Systems Administrator
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 21% growth 8% growth
Required Education Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Key Skills Analytical thinking; clear spoken and written communication; creativity Multitasking ability; problem solving; analytical thinking
Similar Occupations Computer network architects; database administrators; information security analysts; software developers Computer hardware engineers; computer and information systems managers; computer support specialties; web developers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Type of Work

Systems Analyst

Systems analysts typically focus on the computer systems required by a company operating in a specific industry, such as financial, engineering or healthcare, or for the government. They design and improve computer systems that work best for the different needs of each organization. They generally begin their work by consulting with management and identifying the computer needs of a company. They then design software and hardware systems that achieve a set of goals. The systems analyst is also responsible for performing cost-benefit analysis on proposed improvements to the computer system.

Systems Administrator

Systems administrators focus on the network of a computer system, including the wide-area network (WAN), local-area network (LAN), the Internet and intranets. Their work is not as industry specific as that of a systems analyst, as networking tends to be the same for different organizations and different industries. Systems administrators are also responsible for network security, protecting the computer system against security breaches and ever-increasing cyber-attacks and cyber-crime. A systems administrator may work with a systems analyst by suggesting possible changes and improvements to software and hardware.

Training and Education

Systems Analyst

Employers prefer to hire systems analysts with at least a bachelor's degree. However, the desired area of study depends on the employer. An engineering firm may want a systems analyst with a degree in computer science, engineering or information science, while an accounting firm may prefer applicants with a business-related degree, such as management information systems or even an MBA.

Systems Administrator

Depending on the employer, a systems administrator may need a bachelor's degree or just a relevant associate's degree. A high-level position may require a bachelor's degree in computer science, while an entry-level position may only require a certificate in information technology or even specific vendors' certifications, such as an Oracle development certification and Unix certification.

Employment Opportunities

Systems Analyst

A systems analyst can work in nearly any industry. The most popular options include the insurance, healthcare, financial, consulting and educational industries as well as the government.

Systems Administrator

Systems administrators are employed in computer systems network design, maintenance and support. They may work for the government, financial companies, insurance companies, educational institutions and hospitals, as well as other areas. Some may work for technology companies designing computer networks.

Earnings

Systems Analyst

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median income of a computer systems analyst was $82,710 in May 2014. The highest earners worked in support activities for mining.

Systems Administrator

The BLS reported the median salary of a network and computer systems administrator was $75,790 in 2014. The highest earners worked in pipeline transportation of crude oil.

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