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How to Become a Systems Engineer

Are your computer and IT skills at a high level? Do you have outstanding problem-solving skills and exceptional interpersonal abilities? If so, a great career opportunity for you might be to become a systems engineer.

Systems engineers are responsible for the design and implementation of the computer infrastructure of an organization. You’ll ensure that systems and software are installed properly and run efficiently. You may support internal or client-facing systems, installing, configuring, and troubleshooting them. You must have exceptional computer skills and have advanced knowledge of the hardware, software, and networking implications of the company. You will upgrade and patch servers as needed, as well as perform backups, testing, and maintain up-to-date virus protection for all servers. 

In-depth knowledge of relevant scripting, software, performance tuning, automation, and network technologies is vital to being successful as a systems engineer. Systems engineers should have excellent verbal and written communication skills to understand company and customer directives and goals and to plan, design, and implement systems and software to meet those goals. 

Sample job description

Systems engineers needed urgently to begin work at [Your Company Name]. The ideal candidate will have previous experience in systems engineering as well as the correct qualifications, degrees, and certificates for this position. The ideal candidate’s daily tasks will include implementing new systems and updating old systems to ensure they work properly, training other engineers throughout the company, and troubleshooting any systems that may not be working properly. It will be your aim to improve the operating efficiency of our company as much as possible through the systems you implement. Being data-minded is a large benefit for any systems engineer, as well as having a good ability to communicate and instruct. If this sounds of interest, please apply! We are urgently looking for a new systems engineer and would love to have you on our team.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Manage and monitor all installed systems and infrastructure according to company guidelines 
  • Assist in testing and evaluating application software and system management tools
  • Write and maintain custom scripts to reduce the need for human intervention 
  • Test software development methodology
  • Lead ongoing maintenance, support, and enhancements in existing systems and platforms
  • Collaborate cross-functionally with data scientists, business users, project managers, and other engineers to achieve software solutions
  • Recommend software and process improvements where necessary
  • Work alongside other engineers on the team to elevate technology and follow best practices

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, applied mathematics, or a related field. Many employers prefer candidates who have a master’s or doctorate and certification from INCOSE, the International Council on Systems Engineering. 

Required skills and qualifications

  • Experience creating automated scripts
  • Understanding of best practices for systems security measures 
  • Excellent problem-solving and analytical abilities
  • Ability to lead a development team
  • Several years of hands-on software development experience
  • Experience with modern programming languages including Python and Java
  • Expertise in written and verbal communication skills
  • Keen attention to detail 

Preferred qualifications

  • Master’s degree
  • Understanding of and experience with system design, including writing IC design specifications, developing algorithms, and creating system reference models
  • Knowledge in structured and/or object oriented programming (C, C++) and signal processing tools (Matlab)

Typical work environment

A systems engineer is required to be skilled in both engineering and systems management. Their daily tasks can include mentoring other engineers within the company, assisting engineers with tasks, creating schedules and implementing the correct systems, providing goals for a project, and much more. Because of the extreme qualifications a systems engineer needs to have, a systems engineer should aim to be an expert in both fields of qualifications that are required. As a systems engineer, it will be your job to understand both engineering and management, which will include working in various departments and developing systems for a company. Systems engineers attempt to improve productivity in the workplace by ensuring that systems are operating properly.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a systems engineer are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, in an office setting. 

Available certifications

As a systems engineer, you can benefit from becoming certified in the field or relevant fields. Some of the ideal certifications of a systems engineer may vary depending on the specific field, but common certificates include:

  • Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE). A Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer will benefit from being certified by one of the most widely recognized certification companies for systems, security, and systems engineering. This certification ensures a basic and advanced level of competency in systems engineering and can be immensely beneficial to any systems engineer looking to further their career. Because it is widely recognized, this certificate can prove to be beneficial when acquiring a job as well.
  • CompTIA A+. The CompTIA certification is an industry standard for all sorts of computer technicians and system managers. Because of this, acquiring this certification can be beneficial for systems engineers to demonstrate their competency in the computer and systems fields. This certification is offered with the ability to take the test online, so it is broadly available to any engineer looking to acquire the correct certifications for their position.

Career path

The path to becoming a systems engineer starts with earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, applied mathematics, or a related field. Many employers prefer candidates who have a master’s or doctorate, have a strong background in computer programming, and certification from INCOSE, the International Council on Systems Engineering.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 15-1299.08

2020 Employment442,200
Projected Employment in 2030479,700
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 8% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift37,500 increase

A trend in the systems engineering field in the coming years is the increased use of progressive web apps (PWAs). They’re a kind of website that functions like a mobile app but runs in a web browser. Companies are using them to save money because they eliminate the need for a mobile app or a mobile version of their websites. Instead, PWAs give companies the same benefits as a mobile app and offer faster load times and better functionality for customers. 

Increased demand for the Internet of Things (IoT) is another trend for systems engineers to watch in the coming years. Devices that can be connected to the internet, from smart appliances to wearable technology, are becoming increasingly popular. Many software companies are expected to begin specializing in programming for the IoT sector, so applicants who are knowledgeable about smart technology software will be more in demand.