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What does a Systems Operator do?

By Carol Francois
Updated May 16, 2024
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The primary role of the systems operator is to run the different programs and reports and execute the appropriate commands on large, back-end computer systems. This type of position is typically organized into the technical services or operational support department of the information technology division. Every large computer system or architecture requires specific programs or routines to be run on a regular basis. A systems operator typically has a university or college degree in computer services, information technology systems, or computer programming. Systems operators can find employment opportunities in large companies, operations service providers, and information technology departments.

As computer systems became more entrenched in business operations, it was recognized that many programs require a human decision maker to input information, check the results of a prior program, or modify the selection criteria. These programs may also move data from one system to another, modify the data tables, or create user authorizations. The systems operator typically has much broader access than other IT staff, and is able to access information and run programs in a broad range of modules.

People who enjoy working with technology, have an excellent attention to detail, and can work as a team member report the greatest satisfaction as a systems operator. Information technology professionals must work together, completing tasks independently, but ensuring that the work of the team can continue. The role of systems operator is critical to keeping the overall system performing correctly and ensuring that the data is processed properly.

Talk with people who work in the information technology industry, and they should be able to advise you about the work environment in this industry. In most large organizations there is a department of systems operators. The size of the department and the number of systems operators is dependent upon the enterprise software structure and if the system requires 24-hour support.

A career as a systems operator requires dedication to continuing education. The technology is constantly changing, and it is necessary to invest time and effort to stay current. This career is forecast to have a greater than average growth in the next five to ten years. Career advancement in this field typically requires further education in management or certification in a specific technology or hardware.

Many systems operators specialize in a specific technology or solution. This focus allows them to act as a resource to developers and business analysts when exploring possible solutions to business problems. Training programs for these tools are typically very expensive and are often provided by the employer.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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