Systems engineer jobs have always been in high demand. But now that technology is more widely used, the need for these professionals is more pressing than ever.
Systems engineers are the brains behind all product development. They design, integrate, and manage complicated systems from the initial to the final stage of production. Their involvement in the entire process allows them to create, validate, and verify products to achieve higher quality and customer acceptance.
Systems engineering jobs are quite popular in many IT-based firms and software development companies. To learn more about these jobs, here’s an article that you can use as a guide to starting an exciting career in this field.
What Do Systems Engineers Do?
These professionals work in various industries and have different roles. A system engineer can design a spacecraft or build a bridge. Therefore, the systems engineer job description in one industry is different from the other. But to give you a brief, here are their typical responsibilities.
Systems Engineers Duties
- Studying and monitoring current systems to maintain structural integrity.
- Optimizing output by researching available software, hardware, and equipment.
- Installing operating systems, new software, and other essential equipment.
- Designing and implementing security systems.
- Overseeing safety procedures.
- Providing technical assistance and backup support.
- Monitoring all software, hardware, equipment, and systems and giving feedback.
- Collaborating with other engineers to resolve issues and determine optimal solutions.
In most cases, professionals at systems engineer jobs find that their tasks overlap with those of system administrators, network engineers, and software engineers. That should come as no surprise since systems engineering is an interdisciplinary job.
Types of Systems Engineer Jobs
A quick look at job listings is enough to understand that tech companies are always looking for good systems engineers. More specifically, a large number of systems engineering professionals are hired at software engineer jobs. That said, their skills and knowledge are in high demand in other fields, such as the manufacturing, petroleum, and even aerospace industries. Below you can find the types of jobs available for systems engineers.
Software Systems Engineer Jobs
People holding a software-related position create, modify and write code for software systems programming applications. They deal with software and, at the same time, maintain and support technical infrastructure.
Any software systems engineer job description revolves around the application of systems engineering knowledge in designing new software. Therefore, these professionals are usually employed in software development companies, and such positions are typically in high demand.
Embedded Systems Engineer Jobs
An embedded system combines computer hardware, software, and mechanical parts to perform a real-time specific function. Some examples include mobile phones, hybrid cars, and even rocket ships. The best way to understand what professionals in an embedded systems engineer job do is this: the exact second you tap an app on your phone, an embedded systems engineer is behind the function that’s activated to open said app.
Embedded systems engineers have a vast knowledge of robots, printed circuit boards (PCB), and coding. This knowledge allows them to create systems with real-time functions, such as opening an app once you touch its icon on your smartphone.
Control Systems Engineer Jobs
Control systems engineering encompasses other engineering disciplines. These experts design, develop, and implement solutions that manage dynamic systems.
An example of a dynamic system is the anti-lock braking system in cars. Therefore, a control systems engineer job description in the car manufacturing industry is all about controlling a vehicle’s brake system under whatever conditions it operates, such as different speed, brake temperature, and road surface conditions.
IT Systems Engineer Jobs
The professionals who oversee that technology works seamlessly and support IT are the IT systems engineers. Their role is to plan, install, and program IT systems in computer companies. But apart from this, an IT systems engineer also manages servers, upgrades systems, solves problems, and automates processes to sustain a business’s operation. In short, these professionals are in charge of the overall health of an IT system.
Since systems engineers work on different projects, from designing spacecraft and computer chips to integrating software, and even robotics, they may work indoors and outdoors. Some days they work in the office, while other days they’re in testing centers. Therefore, especially at entry level systems engineer jobs, the willingness to work both in-office and out of the office is a primary requirement.
Injuries and Illnesses
For many systems engineers, their job is a blend of working on a desk and outdoors. While in the field, where heavy equipment may be involved, accidents can happen. So, it’s imperative to always follow safety measures, like wearing a helmet, before engaging in any tasks in testing centers.
On the other hand, people at computer systems engineer jobs, or any desk jobs for that matter, may experience eye strain or back pain due to prolonged sitting and exposure to screens. However, these can be avoided by taking frequent breaks while at work and incorporating exercise in your daily routine.
Systems engineers have a standard workweek, which is 40 hours. They may be required to work longer when a deadline is approaching or to study new methods and techniques. Remote systems engineer positions are also available for those who prefer to work from home. This option offers more flexibility and control in terms of schedule.
How to Become a Systems Engineer
To secure a system engineer job, you need an engineering degree. You may then proceed to a Master’s or PhD to have better chances of being hired. With only a Bachelor’s degree, you may get a job, but it’s better to have an advanced degree. With it, you can get promoted to a senior role and be entitled to a higher senior systems engineer salary.
Furthermore, many job postings cite work experience as a requisite. For fresh graduates, this is when an internship program or certification can be useful. It’s not as important as work experience, but having a credential or finishing an internship carries a certain level of an advantage when applying.
Once your CV is ready, decide if you want to pursue an in-office job or one of many systems engineer jobs remote positions. It’s better to determine your preferred work set up before sending applications. This way, not only will you avoid wasting your precious time, but also you’ll have better chances of landing a job that suits your needs and expectations.
Essential System Engineer Skills
Many jobs in science, IT, and engineering require technical expertise. A day in a systems engineer’s life involves developing complex technology systems, troubleshooting technical problems, and fixing various system errors. To perform all these tasks, a systems engineer should have advanced technical skills and knowledge.
Problem-Solving and Troubleshooting Skills
Systems engineering companies look for individuals who can diagnose a problem, trace the root cause, and restore systems to their working state by applying solutions. Addressing all types of issues using reasonable measures is a fundamental quality for systems engineers.
Entrepreneurial Thinking Skills
Jobs for systems engineers require having the skill to recognize marketplace opportunities and how to capitalize them. A mindset that adopts critical questioning, innovation, service, and improvement under changing circumstances is crucial.
A considerable part of the job is to collaborate with other teams of engineers. Therefore, the skill to convey ideas efficiently and in a manner that’s understood easily by others makes a good systems engineer.
An associate’s certification may qualify you for many systems engineering jobs entry level positions. But, you usually need to have several years of job experience to back you up. Some employers consider experience as the most critical factor when hiring.
However, in other companies, you can’t apply for entry level systems engineering jobs if you don’t have a Bachelor’s degree in engineering, computer science, business, or IT. If you aim to work in a well-established organization, you need to have an impressive educational background. Some engineers even advance into a Master’s or Doctorate to equip themselves for higher-level job roles.
As this job relies so much on technology, which is dynamic, people in systems engineering job roles need to keep up to date on the latest tech trends. So, even after getting a job, expect that you’ll have to attend training sessions and conferences to upgrade your existing skills.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Certifications don’t only prove you’re suitable for the job. They’re also an excellent strategy to establish your career in the long term. Whether you wish to work in-office or apply for remote systems engineer jobs, getting certified by the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) will benefit your career. Below are the three-tier certifications to explore.
- Associate Systems Engineering Professional (ASEP)
This certificate is for individuals who don’t have any systems engineering experience but wish to prove their knowledge and skills.
- Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP)
This certificate is for systems engineering practitioners who have the job experience, can carry out tasks, and are ready for an advanced systems engineer career path. Keep in mind that you must be a degree holder with at least five years of experience to be eligible for this certificate.
- Expert Systems Engineering Professional (ESEP)
This certificate is for systems engineers who have experience and technical leadership skills. If you want to get a Chief Systems Engineer title and receive an above average systems engineer salary, this certificate is the first step to that dream job position.
Applicants should be degree holders who possess 20-25 years of working experience. Listed references should confirm at least ten years of systems engineer job experience. Finally, applicants should present evidence of Professional Development leadership training.
It takes talent, skills, and experience to advance to a senior, principal, or chief systems engineer role. Professionals who can build viable systems to help streamline business processes and exhibit excellent performance at work have the best opportunities to get promoted to senior system engineer jobs.
According to PayScale, the median salary for systems engineers is $80,392, with entry-level professionals earning an average of $72,379. However, certain factors affect compensation. Moreover, the type of engineering also calls for different salaries. For instance the average embedded systems engineer salary is $97,532 a year.
Therefore, the systems engineering jobs salary can go below or above the determined average figure. Some organizations also offer bonuses, commission, or profit-sharing, which further increase the total take-home pay for systems engineers.
As far as entry level systems engineer salary is concerned, business industry, education, and business location are the standard drivers determining it.
Engineering jobs, in general, are predicted to take a positive turn. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a total of 140,000 new positions from 2016 to 2026 for all types of engineering jobs. Therefore, the current projection for engineering jobs across all industries is ascending, and the same goes for systems engineering jobs.
In the future, businesses will need to enhance their current systems for millions of products, such as mobile phones, self-driving cars, software integration, and robotics, to stay relevant. For this reason, systems engineers jobs will continue to thrive.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a system engineer do?
Systems engineers create systems to simplify complex processes. These systems experts work in many industries. However, no matter which industry they are in, their main job revolves around integrating, connecting, and merging different components to materialize successful products.
Compared to other engineers who are proficient with only one discipline, systems engineers are familiar with multiple disciplines. They understand many engineering fundamentals, concepts, and techniques that other engineers don’t. That’s how they’re able to work in various industries and, eventually, land their desired senior systems engineer jobs.
What jobs do systems engineers get?
If you have a systems engineering degree, you can apply for many jobs across multiple industries. Most systems engineers work in IT-based companies. However, others work in the automobile, aerospace, infrastructure, and other top industries. All in all, it’s up to you to decide what industry to pursue a career in.
For instance, if you want to work in a colossal e-commerce company, you can apply for available warehouse systems engineer jobs. Millions of employers need systems engineers for various roles within companies, so there are countless job choices.
How much does a systems engineer make a year?
Statistics reveal that the median systems engineer salary is $80,392, with the bottom 10% earning $59,000 and the top 10% making $126,000 per year.
On the other hand, according to recent data from PayScale, the average systems engineer starting salary is around $71,812, which is quite reasonable for a systems engineer with less than a year’s experience.
Is systems engineer a good career?
In the past, a career in systems engineering may not have been ideal because job openings were few. Nowadays, technology advancements have brought forth complex production systems, so businesses have no choice but to employ systems engineers to simplify and manage these systems.
Systems engineers are sought after by companies in several industries. Apart from being a promising career, systems engineer salaries shouldn’t be overlooked either. Last but not least, systems engineers also receive benefits, such as health insurance, retirement accounts, vacation leaves, and other job-related perks.
What skills does a system engineer need?
The essential skills needed are technical, analytical, problem-solving, troubleshooting, communication, and technical writing skills. Moreover, as a systems engineer, you need to have a fair amount of mental power.
That’s because, unlike other engineering jobs, systems engineer jobs entail the application of multiple engineering disciplines into one product. It’s an interdisciplinary field, so it can be quite challenging to switch from one engineering subject to another while at work. But, again, skills can be honed through experience. The longer you’re exposed to work, the better your skills become.