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There are many positions and topics that revolve around "system(s) [x]" and a few other base words.

  • Systems Analyst vs System Analyst
    • Does it change if we reference a function instead of a job title? e.g. Systems Analysis vs System Analysis, Systems Engineering vs System Engineering
  • Solutions Architect vs Solution Architect, Solutions Engineer vs Solution Engineer

But then there are topics that are definitively singular, like Network Engineer or Application Analyst.

Of course, one could make the argument that if someone works with more than one system, they'd be a systems engineer, but to me, there is more nuance there.

Is there a "correct" variant or a way to determine which variant (singular or plural) is more appropriate for a given situation?

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  • Does this answer your question? When are attributive nouns plural? May 7, 2020 at 16:33
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    The correct way to check on an accepted form is, as usual with word usages, to check in a couple of reputable dictionaries. If the string isn't common enough to have been picked up, Google Ngrams show useful usage data. There is no logical way to be sure. As has been said elsewhere, singular-form attributive usages far outweigh plural-form ones, though there are some well-known (and some less well-known) exceptions. 'sports jacket' 'drivers licence' 'travellers cheque' 'dogs home' (but 'donkey sanctuary'!) 'working mens club' (no apostrophe is the norm). Often, etic plurality is conveyed. May 7, 2020 at 16:50

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Here is Ngram ... So I would not rule out "systems analyst".

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Neologisms such as System(s) Analyst are less standardised than job titles that have been around a while. You will see both posted frequently on job boards; so, it could be argued that one or the other is more right.

The argument For "Systems Analyst"

This is the more commonly seen variation of the job title so it could be seen as more proper on that level, but over time this variation has seen more decline in usage.

The argument For "System Analyst"

Pretty much any profession that includes what you work on in the name refers to that thing in the singular, even if you work with a variety of them: pipe fitter, shoe maker, metal worker, etc. Your examples of network engineer and application analyst fit this as well. If you think about it, most network engineers work on many networks and application analysts work on many applications.

Over time as this term matures I would expect System Analyst to become the more common variant since it will feel more natural to native English speakers.

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    Needs reference..
    – GEdgar
    May 6, 2020 at 22:46

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