Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline

Entry Level Systems Analysts: What Does the Industry Want?

Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline

Entry Level Systems Analysts: What Does the Industry Want?

Article excerpt


This study investigates the skill sets necessary for entry level systems analysts. Towards this end, the study combines two sources of data, namely, a content analysis of 200 systems analysts' online job advertisements and a survey of 20 senior Information Systems (IS) professionals. Based on Chi-square tests, the results reveal that most employers prefer entry level systems analysts with an undergraduate Computer Science degree. Furthermore, most of the employers prefer entry level systems analysts to have some years of experience as well as industry certifications. The results also reveal that there is a higher preference for entry level systems analysts who have non-technical and people skills (e.g., problem solving and oral communication). The empirical results from this study will inform IS educators as they develop future systems analysts. Additionally, the results will be useful to the aspiring systems analysts who need to make sure that they have the necessary job skills before graduating and entering the labor market.

Keywords: System Analysts, Information Systems, Education, Skills, Content Analysis, Empirical Study


The Information Systems major (we hereafter use IS to refer to Management Information Systems, Information Systems, Computer Information Systems, as well as the other variants of the IS related majors) is characterized by rapid growth and constant evolution. Likewise, systems analysts are required to have a range of skills and knowledge and to constantly update their skills and knowledge in order to remain competent (Joseph, Ang, Change, & Slaughter, 2010). The skills and knowledge requirements for system analysts are encapsulated in the IS 2010 model curriculum (Topi et al., 2010), in which System Analysis & Design (SA&D) is described as the course that,

"....discusses the processes, methods, techniques and tools that
organizations use to determine how they should conduct their business,
with a particular focus on how computer-based technologies can most
effectively contribute to the way business is organized. The course
covers a systematic methodology for analyzing a business problem or
opportunity, determining what role, if any, computer-based technologies
can play in addressing the business need, articulating business
requirements for the technology solution, specifying alternative
approaches to acquiring the technology capabilities needed to address
the business requirements, and specifying the requirements for the
information systems solution in particular, in-house development,
development from third-party providers, or purchased
commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) packages.... "

Based on the course description, it is apparent that students enrolled in the SA&D course(s) should have a myriad set of both technical and business oriented skills and knowledge. Thus, the aim of this research is to find out if there is consensus between IS professionals and the labor market on the skills and knowledge requirements for entry level system analysts. The answer to this question is important to the prospective students as well as graduating seniors who are getting ready for the job market. The question should also enable those who teach SA&D to gauge whether they are adequately preparing system analysts to take advantage of the open positions in the job market. The following section provides a brief review of the literature on systems analysts. Thereafter, the research method, analysis, discussion, and conclusions are presented.

Literature Review

The current Information Systems 2010 (IS2010) model curriculum has designated Systems Analysis and Design (SA&D) as one of the seven core courses in the IS curriculum (Topi et al., 2010). The designation of SA&D as a core course is a slight deviation from the previous curricula - IS97 and IS2002--in which the SA&D course was closely matched with the Analysis and Logical Design course (Gorgone, Davis, Valacich, Topi, Feinstein & Longenecker, 2003). …

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