Nick Knowlton is the sort of person who regards a broken household appliance as an opportunity to troubleshoot. He’d rather figure it out himself than call in an expert.

It’s a characteristic that many computer systems analysts have in common, Knowlton said.

The analyst job description is a bit vague, even for a career field that embraces abstract language. Knowlton’s job is to act as an outsourced head of information technology for his clients. His title at managed services provider SymQuest Group in Lewiston is virtual chief information officer, or vCIO.

Knowlton’s job is to solve all of his clients’ technology challenges, whether it’s upgrading hardware, installing new software or moving IT infrastructure to the cloud.

A good computer systems analyst must embrace constant change and always keep abreast of the latest advancements in technology, he said.

“Training is probably the hardest thing,” because it never ends, Knowlton said. “It’s almost like something is invented every day.”

And forget the stereotypical notion of the tech support guy who has no patience for the technologically challenged. Knowlton said an important part of his job is explaining technology to clients in plain language that anyone can understand and answering even the most basic questions about it.

“You’ve got to have patience with the customer,” he said.

Knowlton said careers in computers appeal to young people because “you get to play with gadgets and write cool software.”

So if you enjoy solving problems and keeping up with the latest in technology, a career as a computer systems analyst may be just the thing for you.

“It can be very rewarding,” Knowlton said “You have to want to continue to learn.”