Systems Analyst & Programmer

A Systems Analyst researches problems, plans solutions, recommends software and systems, and coordinates development to meet business or other requirements. They will be familiar with a variety of programming languages, operating systems, and computer hardware platforms. Because they often write user requests into technical specifications, the systems analysts are the liaisons between vendors and information technology professionals. They may be responsible for developing cost analysis, design considerations, and implication time-lines.  A Programmer is a person who writes and modifies computer software.  There are about 12,000 computer analysts and programmers within local government in the UK today.

Work Environment
Most of the work is conducted within an office environment but some travel will be required to attend meetings with customers and external consultants and vendors.

Daily Activities
Systems analysis and development is generally carried out on a project by project basis. Computer systems support an enormous range of services, from traffic flow measurement and control, to payroll systems. The analyst will first set the criteria for the project and agree timescales and costs. The analyst next conducts a thorough investigation of the function to be computerised. This may involve developing questionnaires and asking staff questions. A proposed system outline is then drawn up, possibly by using software tools to model it. The analyst will consider if existing systems can be adapted or whether a new program needs to be developed. Overseeing implementation of the new system is the analyst's responsibility, as is maintaining quality checks and training departmental staff in the new system's operation and management. Programmers have three main areas of responsibility:

  • maintenance of existing software systems; 
  • modifying existing commercial packages to suit departmental needs; 
  • developing and configuring software packages to perform specific tasks relevant to local authority demands.

Skills & Interests
A high level of information technology knowledge and skills are required, as is the need to keep up to date in a fast changing area of work. The ability to communicate effectively in writing and verbally and to relate well with a wide range of people including elected members, fellow professionals and support staff is a must.  They need to be good listeners to understand clients' requirements and to obtain an understanding of the users' business.  They must be able to work in a team and independently when required. They also need to be logical, clear thinkers who enjoy solving problems.

Entry Requirements
Councils generally prefer to recruit experienced people but may promote internally.  Specialist computing degrees may well be regarded as sufficient, as may postgraduate qualifications in systems analysis. S/NVQs in Information Technology exist at Levels 1- 4.  The relevant BTEC/SQA subject is computer studies. HND entrants require four GCSEs plus two studied at A-level and one passed. Degree entry is usually five GCSEs plus two of three A-levels.  Mature entry to this profession is common.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
Good opportunities for promotion to more senior positions exist.  Data-processing management is an option, as is a move into general management.  Programmers can progress to become systems analysts. As computer systems are increasingly put into place within councils, demand for analysts may decrease. It is more likely that programmers will always be required.  More information about career pathways in computer programming is available on the Computeach website.

Further Information & Services
The Chartered Institute for IT
Institute for the Management of Information Systems
e-skills UK
Society of ICT Management

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales ( or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

Careers Wales have produced a Spotlight article on careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths):  

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