Data Communications Analyst: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a data communications analyst. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Cisco Network Systems degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Data Communications Analyst?

Data communication analysts, also called computer systems analysts, oversee the operations of information and network systems, including their design, maintenance and testing. They work with managers to determine the computing needs of companies, then conducted extensive research on available technologies that may help companies meet those needs. With this research they assemble cost-benefit analysis of various IT systems and present them to managers. If approved, they oversee the installation and testing of the system to ensure it does what it is supposed to and meets company needs. Alternatively, they may find ways to integrate new technologies in existing systems. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Key Responsibilities Design and implement new hardware and software systems
Remain abreast of latest technologies
Maintain client's computer system infrastructure
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 21% (for all computer systems analysts)*
Median Salary (2015) $85,800 (for all computer systems analysts)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Education Is Required for Becoming a Data Communications Analyst?

Educational requirements vary according to the needs of employers, but you should obtain a minimum of an associate's or bachelor's degree if you want to become a data communications analyst. If you opt for a 2-year associate's degree, you could major in management information systems, computer science or information science. Your classes might include computer science foundations, systems programming and operating systems.

Be aware, however, that if you obtain only a 2-year degree, employers will also require some technical skills. Analytical and troubleshooting skills will be necessary, along with hands-on computer experience. Make certain that your educational program will provide you with thorough knowledge of computer hardware and software and the ability to evaluate and analyze the performance of computer systems. In general, you should be familiar with electronic equipment, processors and circuit boards.

Although an associate's or bachelor's degree is sufficient for a career as a data communications analyst, contemplate whether or not you'd like to advance into management or perform more complex job duties. Some employers prefer postgraduate credentials for such positions. If, at some point, you'd like to become an information systems manager, software engineer or a systems architect, consider obtaining a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in an area such as information systems or information technology. An MBA program may include marketing, electronic business, accounting and database management courses.

What Jobs Will I Qualify For?

With the right training and preparation, you can qualify for several positions related to data communications analysis. Potential job titles include systems engineer, network analyst, computer network technician, network engineer or computer systems specialist. Computer systems programmer, telecommunications manager and systems administrator are some other job choices.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

Your duties will include computer network planning and analysis; assisting or supervising the installation of communications equipment; and researching hardware and software used in data communications. You may be responsible for examining wide and local area networks, intranet and Internet systems. Monitoring of system performance, evaluating the efficiency of hardware and determining areas where new equipment is needed will be necessary. Other aspects of your job may entail consulting with customers in their offices and working with other professionals such as engineers, programmers and scientists.

What Salary Could I Expect to Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that computer systems analysts earned an average annual salary of $90,180 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Workers in mining support activities and in security and commodity exchange typically earned the highest annual salaries of the field, at an average of $112,430 and $109,070 respectively.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Computer and information systems managers are another group of professionals who need to have a firm understanding of the technology needs of their company. Sometimes working with data communications analysts, these professionals are put in charge of organizing the computer related activities of a company to meet IT goals. To get into this profession, individuals need at least a bachelor's degree in a computer or information technology related field. Less related to the IT aspects of a data communications analyst's job and more with the cost estimating part of the job, actuaries are hired to run risk analysis. This involves using statistics and financial theories to estimate financial risks and help come up with ways to lessen these risks. Often these professionals have a bachelor's degree in mathematics, actuarial science or statistics.

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