How to Become an Information Systems Designer

Here are the 6 essential steps for becoming an information systems designer:


1. Excel at math, physics, computer science and design studies in high school

2. Determine if this career suits your interests

3. Pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science

4. Get work experience in business analysis or computer programming as a student

5. Get an entry-level job after graduation

6. Advance your career as you gain experience


Continue reading below to get a good idea of what you'll need to begin a career as an information systems designer in the United States or Canada. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as a list of possible employers, actual job postings, and much more!



What Education Will I Need?

To become an information systems designer, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in a field such as computer science, computer engineering, software engineering, or another closely related field. You can also get into this field with a science or math degree, provided you have relevant work experience, such as work in business analysis or computer programming.


Success Tip: Excel at math, computer science, design studies and physics in high school. This will both prepare you for this career, and help you earn acceptance into computer science programs in university.





What is an Information Systems Designer?

An information systems designer is an information science professional that helps shape how people interact and get things done through information systems. They play a crucial role in today’s society; innovations in information processes and systems for business are critical for competitiveness and survival, and our personal and social lives are now mediated by an ever growing array of information systems. 



What Do They Do?

Information systems designers take input from systems and business analysts (who determine the client needs of a project) and then define the architecture, components, modules, interfaces, and data for a system, to satisfy specified requirements. 


They use this input to create a 'design specification' for a project, which is then given to programmers and testers, who ultimately build the system.



What Are Their Job Duties?

The work of systems designers can be broken down into ‘technical duties’ and ‘people duties’:



Technical Duties


• Design and plan an entire information system

• Pass plans off to programmers to program the system

• Select the proper technologies to use in terms of software and hardware

• Write the design specification that the developers will use to guide their work

• Produce a test plan for the testers

• Stay abreast of developments in relevant hardware and software



‘People’ Duties


• Liaise with the System Analyst once the Requirements Specification is available

• Confer with the programmers, technicians and engineers before the development stage begins

• Effectively communicate what will be needed before the formal design specification is released

• Explain to the client, in non-technical terms, how the system will work and to get their feedback and opinions

• Consult with System Analyst regarding changes, and have them update the Requirements Specification



Is Information Systems Design Right for Me?

If you have the following traits, you should be a good fit for this career:


• A natural aptitude for math and science

• A keen interest in computers and IT

• An interest in influencing the future of technology

• An inquisitive and inventive mind

• A strong capacity for details

• An ability to see the big picture of a project

• An interest in a very well-paying career

• An interest in the possibility of self-employment

• An interest in a career that involves the use of both technical skills and 'people' skills





Who Employs information Systems Designers?

Job opportunities for systems designers typically exist with the following types of organizations:


• Computer and IT consulting firms

• Large engineering, telecommunications and computer companies

• Local, regional and federal government departments and agencies

• Utilities, and 'smart grid' companies

• Educational institutions

• Applications and software development firms

• Computer hardware manufacturers

• Financial institutions 

• Major commercial and industrial companies, including retailers and manufacturers 

• Self-employment in consultancy



How Much Do Information Systems Designers Earn?

The salary level you could earn as a information systems designer can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your level of education

• Your level of experience

• The specific responsibilities of your job

• The amount of responsibility you have

• The size and type of your employer

• The industry in which you work

• The region in which you work

• And many other factors…


Information Systems Designer Salary - Canada: According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, the average salary of Albertans working in the “information systems consultant” occupational group is $87,074 per year. In British Columbia, WorkBC states that the annual provincial median salary of those in the "information systems analysts and consultants" is $81,058. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (October 16, 2019).


Information Systems Designer Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the “Computer Network Architects” occupational group is $109,020 per year.*


*Unfortunately, reliable salary information for the career “Information Systems Designer” in the United States could not be found from reliable sources. However, the salary level of “Computer Network Architects” gives us a good idea of what you could earn.



Information Systems Designer Jobs

Our job board below has "information systems designer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia:




What Career Advancement Opportunities Are There?

If you have competence and have a good work ethic as an information systems designer, you could move into better paying senior-level roles; roles in management or administration; research or teaching jobs; self-employment & consultancy, or you could move into different areas, such as sales & marketing.



What Career Fields Are Similar?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as "information systems designer":


• Business Analyst

• Chief Information Officer (CIO)

• Computer Scientist 

• Computer Systems Engineer

• Information Systems Consultant

• Network Architect 

• Technical Sales Engineer

User Interface Designer

• Web Designer



What Scholarships are Relevant for Becoming a Systems Designer?

All of the scholarships on our Computer Engineering, Computer Science, and Software Engineering Scholarships pages are relevant for becoming an information systems designer.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!




Please consult the following resources to learn more about what it takes to become a computer systems engineer:


• Occupational Profile: “Information Systems Consultant.” (March 31, 2018). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved October 16, 2019.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Computer Network Architects .” (September 4, 2019). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved October 16, 2019.

• Job Profiles: “Systems Analyst”. (Dec. 7, 2016). National Careers Service. Retrieved February 1, 2017.

• Studies & Careers: “Information Systems & Design”. (n.d.) University of Toronto - Faculty of Information. Retrieved February 1, 2017.

• Explore Careers: “Information systems analysts and consultants”. (August 28, 2019). WorkBC website. Retrieved October 16, 2019.



Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant to becoming a computer/information systems designer. Click on the link(s) to see what else you can do with these majors!


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