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Become A Principal Analyst

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Working As A Principal Analyst

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Processing Information
  • Getting Information
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $103,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Principal Analyst Do

Computer systems analysts study an organization’s current computer systems and procedures and design information systems solutions to help the organization operate more efficiently and effectively. They bring business and information technology (IT) together by understanding the needs and limitations of both.

Duties

Computer systems analysts typically do the following:

  • Consult with managers to determine the role of IT systems in an organization
  • Research emerging technologies to decide if installing them can increase the organization’s efficiency and effectiveness
  • Prepare an analysis of costs and benefits so that management can decide if IT systems and computing infrastructure upgrades are financially worthwhile
  • Devise ways to add new functionality to existing computer systems
  • Design and implement new systems by choosing and configuring hardware and software
  • Oversee the installation and configuration of new systems to customize them for the organization
  • Conduct testing to ensure that the systems work as expected
  • Train the systems’ end users and write instruction manuals

Computer systems analysts use a variety of techniques such as data modeling to design computer systems. Data modeling allows analysts to view the processes and data flows even before programs have been written. 

Once programs have been written, analysts conduct in-depth tests and analyze information and trends in the data to increase a system’s performance and efficiency.

Analysts calculate requirements for how much memory and speed the computer system needs. They prepare flowcharts or other kinds of diagrams for programmers or engineers to use when building the system. Analysts also work with these people to solve problems that arise after the initial system is set up. Most analysts do some programming in the course of their work.

Most computer systems analysts specialize in certain types of computer systems that are specific to the organization they work with. For example, an analyst might work predominantly with financial computer systems or engineering computer systems.

Systems analysts help other IT team members understand how computer systems can best serve an organization by working closely with the organization’s business leaders.

In some cases, analysts who supervise the initial installation or upgrade of IT systems from start to finish may be called IT project managers. They monitor a project’s progress to ensure that deadlines, standards, and cost targets are met. IT project managers who plan and direct an organization’s IT department or IT policies are included in the profile on computer and information systems managers.

Many computer systems analysts are general-purpose analysts who develop new systems or fine-tune existing ones; however, there are some specialized systems analysts. The following are examples of types of computer systems analysts:

Systems designers or systems architects specialize in helping organizations choose specific types of hardware and software systems. They translate the long-term business goals of an organization into technical solutions. Analysts develop a plan for the computer systems that will be able to reach those goals. They work with management to ensure that systems and the IT infrastructure are set up to best serve the organization’s mission.

Software quality assurance (QA) analysts do in-depth testing and diagnose problems of the systems they design in order to make sure that critical requirements are met. They also write reports to management recommending ways to improve the systems.

Programmer analysts design and update their system’s software and create applications tailored to their organization’s needs. They do more coding and debugging than other types of analysts, although they still work extensively with management and business analysts to determine what business needs the applications are meant to address. Other occupations that do programming are computer programmers and software developers.

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How To Become A Principal Analyst

A bachelor’s degree in a computer or information science field is common, although not always a requirement. Some firms hire analysts with business or liberal arts degrees who have skills in information technology or computer programming.

Education

Most computer systems analysts have a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field. Because these analysts also are heavily involved in the business side of a company, it may be helpful to take business courses or major in management information systems.

Some employers prefer applicants who have a master's degree in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in information systems. For more technically complex jobs, a master’s degree in computer science may be more appropriate.

Although many computer systems analysts have technical degrees, such a degree is not always a requirement. Many analysts have liberal arts degrees and have gained programming or technical expertise elsewhere.

Many systems analysts continue to take classes throughout their careers so they can learn about new and innovative technologies. Technological advances come so rapidly in the computer field that continual study is necessary to remain competitive.

Systems analysts must understand the business field they are working in. For example, a hospital may want an analyst with a thorough understanding of health plans and programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and an analyst working for a bank may need to understand finance. Having knowledge of their industry helps systems analysts communicate with managers to determine the role of the information technology (IT) systems in an organization.

Advancement

With experience, systems analysts can advance to project manager and lead a team of analysts. Some can eventually become IT directors or chief technology officers. For more information, see the profile on computer and information systems managers.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Analysts must interpret complex information from various sources and be able to decide the best way to move forward on a project. They must also be able to figure out how changes may affect the project.

Communication skills. Analysts work as a go-between with management and the IT department and must be able to explain complex issues in a way that both will understand.

Creativity. Because analysts are tasked with finding innovative solutions to computer problems, an ability to “think outside the box” is important.

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Principal Analyst Career Paths

Principal Analyst
Project Manager Information Technology Director
Vice President Of Information Technology
12 Yearsyrs
Project Manager
Manager, Project Management
9 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Business Manager Controller
Controller, Vice President
11 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Senior Project Manager
Senior Information Technology Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Program Manager
Lead Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Product Manager Information Technology Project Manager
Infrastructure Project Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Manager Information Technology Project Manager
Service Delivery Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Manager Office Manager Accounting Manager
Reporting Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Manager Information Technology Manager Information Technology Director
Director Of Information Technology Services
12 Yearsyrs
Principal Consultant Senior Manager
Director Of Analytics
12 Yearsyrs
Principal Consultant Information Technology Project Manager
Manager, Program Management
9 Yearsyrs
Principal Consultant Information Technology Manager
Application Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Owner Maintenance Manager Material Manager
Systems Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Owner Project Superintendent Consultant/Project Manager
Manager, Project Management Office
12 Yearsyrs
Subject Matter Expert Solutions Architect
Solutions Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Subject Matter Expert Project Analyst Senior Analyst
Manager, Strategy
8 Yearsyrs
Subject Matter Expert Senior Business Analyst Implementation Manager
Integration Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Principal Engineer Software Architect
Vice President, Technology
11 Yearsyrs
Principal Engineer Software Development Manager Project Manager/Analyst
Change Manager
9 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Staff Analyst 3.8 years
Senior Analyst 3.3 years
Project Analyst 3.0 years
Principal Analyst 3.0 years
Analyst Lead 2.9 years
Analyst 2.4 years
Top Careers Before Principal Analyst
Analyst 8.1%
Consultant 7.4%
Manager 4.9%
Top Careers After Principal Analyst
Consultant 10.5%
Manager 6.0%
Analyst 3.9%
Owner 3.6%
Supervisor 3.6%
Principal 3.6%
Director 3.0%
President 3.0%
Specialist 2.7%

Do you work as a Principal Analyst?

Average Yearly Salary
$103,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$82,000
Min 10%
$103,000
Median 50%
$103,000
Median 50%
$103,000
Median 50%
$103,000
Median 50%
$103,000
Median 50%
$103,000
Median 50%
$103,000
Median 50%
$130,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Forrester Research
Highest Paying City
Urban Honolulu, HI
Highest Paying State
Hawaii
Avg Experience Level
3.4 years
How much does a Principal Analyst make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Principal Analyst in the United States is $103,816 per year or $50 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $82,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $130,000.

Real Principal Analyst Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Principal Analyst, Drilling QRI International, LLC Houston, TX Mar 11, 2015 $200,000
Principal Analyst Forrester Research, Inc. San Francisco, CA Jul 14, 2016 $170,000 -
$180,000
Principal Enterprisewide Analyst Infinera Corporation Sunnyvale, CA Aug 08, 2016 $152,122 -
$176,600
Principal Analyst Upwork Inc. Mountain View, CA Aug 15, 2016 $145,000
Principal Analyst, Marketing & Web Analytics Upwork, Inc. Mountain View, CA Aug 17, 2015 $145,000
Principal Analyst Distribution and Product Pedigree Hospira, Inc. Lake Forest, IL May 02, 2015 $140,796
Principal Analyst Statoil Gulf Services LLC Austin, TX Oct 19, 2016 $140,000
Principal Analyst, Applications Support T-Mobile USA, Inc. Bothell, WA Sep 10, 2015 $137,812
Principal Analyst Quality Management Staples, Inc. Seattle, WA Apr 15, 2016 $134,000 -
$140,000
Principal Specialist I-ERP Analyst/Sd Charles River Laboratories, Inc. Wilmington, MA Feb 23, 2015 $130,000
Principal Analyst Forrester Research, Inc. Miami Beach, FL Jun 05, 2016 $130,000 -
$200,000
Principal Analyst, Strategic Workforce Planning National Grid USA Service Company, Inc. Waltham, MA Mar 10, 2016 $128,400
Principal Analyst, Functional T-Mobile USA, Inc. Bellevue, WA Jun 01, 2015 $128,000 -
$138,000
Principal Analyst/Solutions Processing Expert Finance Mondelez Global LLC East Hanover, NJ Aug 11, 2015 $111,968
Principal Analyst IHS Global Inc. Houston, TX Apr 23, 2015 $110,569
Principal Analyst Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Pennington, NJ Mar 02, 2015 $110,000
Principal Analyst, Data Science Liberty Mutual Group Inc. Boston, MA Dec 12, 2016 $110,000
Principal Analyst E.R. Squibb & Sons, LLC Wallingford, CT Nov 22, 2016 $109,970
Principal Analyst Gpve Bristol-Myers Squibb Company New Brunswick, NJ Aug 17, 2015 $107,120
Principal Analyst, SAP Logistics & Operations Mondelez Global LLC East Hanover, NJ Apr 23, 2015 $107,100
Principal Analyst, Clinical Data Programming Quintiles, Inc. Durham, NC May 24, 2016 $107,000
Principal Analyst, Clinical Data Programming Quintiles, Inc. Durham, NC Nov 16, 2016 $98,468
Principal Analyst, Customer Analytics Staples, Inc. Framingham, MA Sep 14, 2015 $98,000
Principal Health Service Analyst Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN Jan 02, 2015 $97,760
Principal Workflow Analyst National Medical Care, Inc., A Fresenius Medical Care N.A. Company Lexington, MA Sep 23, 2016 $96,816
Principal Analyst Quality Management Staples, Inc. Framingham, MA Dec 04, 2016 $96,704
Principal Analyst Terumo BCT, Inc. Lakewood, CO Jan 12, 2016 $96,678 -
$115,000
Principal Analyst Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Princeton, NJ Jun 09, 2016 $95,829

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Top Skills for A Principal Analyst

  1. Financial Statements
  2. Ensure Compliance
  3. Data Warehouse
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Prepare IRS Forms 5500, compile financial statements and prepare audit reports for qualified plans.
  • Develop, maintain, ensure compliance with and monitor IT Security Policies in the areas of administrative/physical/technical safeguard policies.
  • Directed ongoing development of internal data warehouse with systems team.
  • Supported sponsors at DOD and the National Infrastructure Protection Center, providing strategic recommendations on critical infrastructure protection issues.
  • Managed administration and supervised development of logistics policies and programs to ensure they met the changing conditions in program requirements.

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Top 10 Best States for Principal Analysts

  1. Virginia
  2. District of Columbia
  3. Washington
  4. Maryland
  5. Connecticut
  6. New York
  7. New Jersey
  8. Texas
  9. California
  10. New Hampshire
  • (3,140 jobs)
  • (1,220 jobs)
  • (1,105 jobs)
  • (1,383 jobs)
  • (612 jobs)
  • (2,532 jobs)
  • (1,401 jobs)
  • (3,440 jobs)
  • (6,620 jobs)
  • (181 jobs)

Principal Analyst Demographics

Gender

Male

69.6%

Female

22.3%

Unknown

8.1%
Ethnicity

White

58.3%

Black or African American

13.1%

Hispanic or Latino

12.3%

Asian

12.1%

Unknown

4.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

28.1%

French

18.8%

Chinese

9.4%

German

9.4%

Mandarin

9.4%

Carrier

6.3%

Arabic

6.3%

Japanese

3.1%

Dakota

3.1%

Burmese

3.1%

Cheyenne

3.1%
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Principal Analyst Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

10.0%

George Washington University

9.4%

George Mason University

7.5%

Defense Acquisition University

5.6%

University of Maryland - University College

5.0%

Arizona State University

5.0%

University of Texas at Austin

5.0%

American University

5.0%

Colorado Technical University

5.0%

Michigan State University

4.4%

North Carolina State University

4.4%

Community College of the Air Force

4.4%

Johns Hopkins University

4.4%

Troy University

3.8%

National University

3.8%

Pace University - New York

3.8%

Harvard University

3.8%

University of Missouri - Columbia

3.8%

Golden Gate University-San Francisco

3.1%

The Academy

3.1%
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Majors

Business

26.4%

Finance

10.9%

Computer Science

8.4%

Management

8.0%

Computer Information Systems

4.9%

Accounting

4.5%

Economics

4.2%

Political Science

3.3%

Marketing

3.3%

Management Information Systems

2.9%

Information Technology

2.7%

Electrical Engineering

2.5%

Computer Engineering

2.5%

Mathematics

2.4%

Supply Chain Management

2.4%

Project Management

2.2%

Public Administration

2.2%

Criminal Justice

2.2%

Physics

2.2%

Information Systems

2.0%
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Degrees

Masters

44.7%

Bachelors

29.1%

Other

11.9%

Doctorate

6.0%

Associate

4.2%

Certificate

3.6%

Diploma

0.4%

License

0.1%
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