Systems analyst & programmer

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Andrew, 22

People working in systems analysis need to be able to write and interpret specifications, know the programs and technology and understand the big picture. Find out more:

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Fact file

Job description: A Systems Analyst develops data and system process flow diagrams, charts and specifications to suit different systems and applications. They also analyse, plan and co-ordinate the strategic direction for an organisation's IT systems.

Subjects studied: Andrew finished school in Year 10.

Further training: Electronics Apprenticeship; self-taught; and on-the-job training.

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What do you do?

I maintain all central computing services such as the email server, web server and corporate applications. Basically I'm responsible for any core service that has to run in the background. I'm involved with creating new systems as well as maintaining the existing ones.

There is a team of 21 and we can all call on each other for help, but I tend to mainly work alone.

We have around 30,000 to 40,000 users of our management system which is very large for any organisation. Not that long ago we moved that system from a tiny database of 800 megabytes to a gigabyte and now it's over 1500 gigabytes, which is a lot of data. I have to maintain that system as well as create applications that interact with it like the online calendar, online tutorials, payslips, directories and so forth.

Describe an average day

The hours are pretty flexible. Today I came in at 11.30, but if there's a lot to be done I may end up staying until 11.30 tonight. Some days we work normal 9 to 5 hours too.

Usually I'll come in, check my emails and then start working on whatever project I'm involved with at the time. This could be hands-on like setting up a test environment, or it could be putting together a proposal. About 25 percent of my time is spent doing plans and proposals and the rest is working on the actual systems.

What technology skills are necessary in your job?

I mainly use Enterprise Backup Solutions and the Veritas Suite.

A good understanding of computers in general is important, as it is quite technical.

How did you get to where you are today?

In Year 10 I thought I wanted to be a chef but then I got a job in a restaurant and realised I really didn't like it. I did a three-year electronics apprenticeship but that still wasn't what I wanted to do.

I had a bit of self-taught knowledge on computers. When the Internet was first set up chat rooms were actually a great place to learn about technical stuff because it was only experts who used them, so I learned a lot there. I started doing some computer contracting for myself, then I got a job here as a trainee systems administrator.

What made you decide on a career in ICT?

I'd always been pretty interested in computers and spent a lot of time messing around on them even though I didn't study IT at school. I had a couple of friends who were working in the industry and I thought it seemed pretty cool.

What do you like about your job?

I like the flexible hours and being able to help clients. I really enjoy the client-focused work.

Is there anything you would change?

I'd have more people try to understand a problem instead of just throwing more money at it in the hope of fixing it.

Where do you see your career going next?

I would like to become a systems architect - looking at the current-set up and seeing how it can be improved. I would also possibly be interested in taking on more of a contract role.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in ICT?

Spend a lot of time at your computer. Don't just think about what the buttons do - think about how they work. Learn as much as you can and don't limit yourself to any one thing!

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Job specs

Personal requirements:

  • able to grasp complex concepts
  • logical and analytical approach to solving problems
  • good communication skills
  • able to work as part of a team
  • able to direct the work of others
  • willing to actively maintain personal skills and knowledge of IT.

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Getting started

Find out more about a career as a systems analyst:

Australian Computer Society
Level 3, 160 Clarence St Sydney, NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9299 3666

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).

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