Applications Analyst

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Applications Analyst


A lot of people understand more than one language. French, Mandarin, Portuguese...Java. Java? Those who understand and communicate in Java may be ready to start a career as an applications analyst, working with computer programs.

Java, along with Pascal, Visual Basic, and C++, to name a few, is a computer language used by programmers who create, modify and test the forms, scripts and codes that tell computers what to do. They use the languages to teach the computer how to respond to users and different programs.

Most computer networks will function with one or two languages. Using that language, application analysts create application programs, which are designed to perform a specific function for the user or for another program. These are things like word processors, database programs, and web browsers, to name a few. Applications analysts adapt existing application programs, but they may also write new programs in computer code, for daily use and for problem solving. Analysts sometimes test and debug pre-written computer programs or software packages.

Applications analysts determine which software programs users need. In order to know what kind of programs are required, they speak with the people who will be using them, and analyze the current programs and systems being used in order to design and plan new systems to implement. They must be good at communicating not only in computer languages, but with program users as well. They not only research and develop the programs, but write up descriptions of them and prepare manuals, help screens, or explain the new systems in person to users. They might have to adapt the programs once they're in use, to make them more suitable to the users. They may also manage a small staff of programmers, who put their visions into place.

Computers are inescapable. They are everywhere. Children use them to research for school projects, adults use them to file their taxes and pay the bills. Computers and their programs connect us in many ways, and nearly all industries require the expertise of applications analysts in order to keep up with the changing world.
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  Interests and Skills  
Successful applications analysts should have lots of experience with hardware, software, and computer systems and processes. They need to know about programming languages and techniques and should have a genuine interest in computers and computer capabilities. Applications analysts should be methodical, logical, patient, careful and accurate. They should be adaptable to new things and work well under pressure. They also need to be good communicators, and be able to work well with others, but also possess the self-discipline and stamina to work on their own when necessary.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Consult with management and staff on how work is done in an organization
  • Draw diagrams of how the work is done
  • Make detailed cost estimates of different system options
  • Plan how the programs will fit together
  • Write programs
  • Oversee the system's development, including design, choice of hardware and software
  • Write manuals or explain program's functions
  • Run tests to ensure programs and computer systems are working properly
  • Prepare reports on programs
  • Maintain and upgrade programs
  • Solve computer problems for users
  • The typical day for an applications analyst will involve working with computers, analyzing, developing and implementing programs. They will spend some of each day with others, answering questions, explaining how the programs work and troubleshooting problems with existing programs. The job doesn't allow for much travel, as most of the work can be done from home or a head office, unless they need to examine computers at locations all over their community.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Applications analysts can find work just about anywhere that computers are in use. Software development and consulting companies, government agencies, electronics companies, hospitals, universities, banks and law enforcement agencies are some of the places they could find work. They can also work independently, and contract out their services to different clients.
  • They work regular hours in offices, or set their own hours and work from home, depending on the nature of their employer. They work alone, or in a small team of other programmers and computer staff.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Applications analysts can specialize in other aspects of computer programming. They can get into computer graphics and web design. There are also jobs in administration, PC support and web maintenance. Systems analysts can open their own businesses, or write a column or book about computers for the general public. There is also IT instruction at colleges and universities.

  Educational Paths  
In order to become an applications analyst you should complete either a bachelor's degree in computer science or in another discipline with a significant programming component, such as mathematics, information systems or a college program in computer science. There are numerous three-year and four-year degree programs, two-year diploma programs and one-year certificate programs in this field offered by universities, colleges, technical institutes and private vocational schools. It is a good idea to consider taking a few psychology and business management courses.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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