Program AnalystJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

If you’re analytical, well organized, like working with computers, and have stellar communication skills, becoming a program analyst might be perfect for you.

Program analysts are information technology professionals who evaluate, optimize, and improve organizations’ computer systems by monitoring program metrics and performance and analyzing data to identify system trends. They make optimization suggestions and prepare reports based on their findings. 

Program analysts collaborate with program managers to develop budgets and schedules for system optimization. They also test, plan, and implement new systems. They evaluate the effectiveness of systems and will prepare presentations on the results. Program analysts may provide support and training to relevant personnel.

Sample job description

As a program analyst, you will perform high level financial modeling and solve one-of-a-kind problems to improve efficiencies and operations across a broad range of groups with organization-wide impact. We need a forward looking, strategic yet realistic problem solver to work closely with internal groups and senior leadership to help. In this role, you would provide recommendations for developing or modifying applications or databases, using research and fact-finding. As an ideal candidate, you have proven experience optimizing systems, procedures, and processes, evaluating operational and program effectiveness, and developing solutions to make improvements or address performance issues. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Develops and implements data management collection procedures
  • Participates in strategic planning meetings
  • Documents all changes in programs and outcomes
  • Validates data and implements quality control measures to ensure the continued success of programs
  • Assists with grants and event coordination
  • Creates budgetary controls and financial management processes
  • Analyzes programs, policies, procedures, and systems and makes recommendations to optimize them
  • Creates and implements new or revised policies and procedures
  • Identifies and resolves issues

Education and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science, business, or similar field
  • 3+ years of experience with project management or program analysis

Required skills and qualifications

  • Understanding of industry best practices
  • Excellent presentation skills
  • Strong analytical and organizational skills
  • Exceptional math and statistics skills
  • Ability to work independently and with a team 
  • Ability to adapt quickly to changing technology
  • Effective communication skills 
  • High proficiency in computer technology and programming 
  • Strong project management skills.

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience creating and delivering budgets
  • Experience in software design, debugging, and development
  • Familiarity with a variety of databases and software systems

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a Program Analyst is $92,200 per year in the United States. Salaries will vary based on education, certifications, additional skills, years of experience, market, and industry.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$91,700$124,050
Los Angeles, California$103,450$139,950
Denver, Colorado$86,200$111,650
Washington, DC$105,000$142,100
Miami, Florida$85,800$116,100
Orlando, Florida$79,150$107,100
Tampa, Florida$79,950$108,150
Atlanta, Georgia$83,850$113,450
Chicago, Illinois$96,400$130,400
Boston, Massachusetts$104,250$141,000
Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota$83,000$112,400
New York City, New York$109,700$148,450
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$89,350$120,850
Dallas, Texas$87,000$117,700
Houston, Texas$86,200$116,650
Seattle, Washington$100,300$135,700
National Average$78,400$106,050

Typical work environment

Program analysts typically work in an office environment. They spend a good portion of the day sitting at a desk using a computer. Program analysts sometimes need to travel to collect data. Some program analysts may work remotely.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a program analyst are during standard business hours, 9 AM to 5 PM from Monday to Friday. They might sometimes work overtime, which can include evenings and weekends, depending on the needs of the business. 

Available certifications

Program analysts work in various industries, and many institutions offer certifications for finance professionals. Here are some of the top certifications:

  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Certification. The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is the pre-eminent framework for managing IT service delivery around the world, defining the processes for the design, development, delivery, and support of IT services. ITIL offers five levels of certification: foundation, practitioner, intermediate, expert, and master. Each certificate earns credits, and with 22 credits, you can achieve ITIL Expert certification. The ITIL Master certification demonstrates the ability to apply the ITIL framework in real-world situations. It requires the ITIL Expert certification, 5 years of ITIL experience in a management or leadership role, submission of a proposal for a service improvement, submission of a work package demonstrating your ability to apply ITIL principles to a real-world business case, and an interview with an ITIL assessment panel.
  • Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA). The PMI-PBA, offered by the Project Management Institute, is for IT professionals who manage requirements or product development and project or program managers who perform business analysis. The PMI-PBA demonstrates your competency in all facets of business analysis. This credential is highly sought after because a certificate holder is considered an expert in business analysis and gives you a solid edge over your peers. The eligibility requirements include passing a rigorous exam and various combinations of experience and education.
  • Capacity Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) certification. The CMMI model provides businesses with a framework for developing better products and services, from development to acquisition. Three levels of certifications are offered through the CMMI Institute. The CMMI Associate certification demonstrates your commitment to performance improvement. The CMMI Professional certification proves your ability to apply the CMMI model in an organizational structure. The Certified CMMI Lead Appraiser is qualified to help organizations determine their capability level or maturity level. If you want to teach others how to use the CMMI model, you can become a certified CMMI instructor.

Career path

The path to becoming a program analyst begins by earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science, business, or a related field. Some program analysts participate in internships to gain experience. They may work in a variety of industries, including accounting companies, health care, manufacturing, and government. Program analysts should have some experience managing large amounts of data and a good understanding of how to process that data for practical applications. Many companies prefer candidates with a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or a related field. Obtaining a certification is not required but it is a good way to advance your career.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 13-1111

2020 Employment907,600
Projected Employment in 20301,032,000
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 14% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift124,400 increase

Data security is a major objective of companies today, and the need for program analysts who are focused on data security is becoming increasingly important. Program analysts will have to work with cybersecurity experts, architects, and engineers to design, deploy, and integrate enterprise-wide security processes. As many companies have, or plan to, permanently shift some employees to remote work, new data analysis techniques will need to be adapted to better support workers’ ability to securely access resources remotely and remain productive. 

Sample interview questions

  • What are the roles and responsibilities of a program analyst?
  • What steps do you follow when evaluating new programs or systems?
  • Can you describe a time when you had to resolve a critical operational or program issue?
  • How do you handle uncooperative employees?
  • How would you characterize your management style?
  • What tools and techniques do you utilize as a program analyst?
  • Can you share a time when you implemented a new technology?
  • Can you give an example of when you successfully coordinated a project with a cross-functional team?
  • How do you prepare, organize, and prioritize your work?
  • Share a time when you thought outside the box? 
  • What is the most difficult project you worked on?
  • How do you stay up to date on new technologies?
  • What are some of your best practices to ensure that you perform good, accurate, and informative data analysis?
  • What are the characteristics of a good data model?
  • Can you give an example of when you analyzed information and evaluated results to choose the best solution to a problem?
  • What is an effective approach to working with a large amount of data? 
  • Can you tell us of a time when you gathered information from multiple sources and how you determined which information was more relevant?
  • What factors do you consider in determining the feasibility of designs within time and cost constraints?

Are You Interested in Becoming a Program Analyst?

If you’re interested in becoming a program analyst, we will connect you to one of our headhunters or recruiters to see if you are a perfect fit for one of our open positions. If a job opening does not suit you, we will keep you in mind as new opportunities open up. We have vast experience connecting top IT professionals with some of the most well-known organizations in the country. Your next job or career path as a program analyst might be right around the corner. Check out our latest job openings and our blog for career advice.

Similar Job Titles and Careers 

  • Systems Analyst
  • Management Analyst
  • Program Manager
  • Business Analyst
  • Data Analyst
  • Functional Analyst.
  • Product Owner
  • Product Manager
  • Project Manager
  • IT Project Coordinator
  • Information Technology Lead

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