Systems EngineerJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

Systems engineers design and implement software for a variety of information and technological applications. They combine an understanding of both engineering and management to increase productivity in the workplace. Systems engineers apply engineering and computer science principles to not just the creation of software but also testing procedures for internal systems. 

Systems engineers make sure that all IT services are appropriately supported and upgraded. Their role includes backups, imaging, testing, evaluating, and preventing viruses that could develop within the software. Systems engineers are responsible for ensuring that systems and software run smoothly and efficiently. 

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)

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a systems engineer is $123,400 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$122,700$166,050
Los Angeles, California$138,450$187,300
Denver, Colorado$115,400$156,100
Washington, DC$140,550$190,150
Miami, Florida$114,850$155,400
Orlando, Florida$105,950$143,350
Tampa, Florida$107,000$144,750
Atlanta, Georgia$112,250$151,850
Chicago, Illinois$129,000$174,550
Boston, Massachusetts$139,500$188,750
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$111,200$150,450
New York City, New York$146,850$198,650
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$119,600$161,800
Dallas, Texas$116,450$157,500
Houston, Texas$115,400$156,100
Seattle, Washington$134,250$181,650
National Average$104,900$141,900

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.

Sample interview questions

  • As a systems engineer, what would you say the ideal skills are for this position?
  • How would you go about determining what aspects of a system need to be improved and how you should improve them?
  • If you were asked to explain part of a system by an employee, how would you go about explaining it in a clear and concise manner?
  • Do you get along well with teammates?
  • What is the largest development team that you’ve managed, and how did you successfully manage the team?
  • What do you consider when updating infrastructure and systems?

Systems Engineer Jobs in Ashburn

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