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System Engineer: Career Profile

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a system engineer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about education, job responsibilities, and work environment to find out if this is the career for you.

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System engineers implement and maintain computer systems for businesses. Their work often includes implementing new systems and ensuring optimal performance. System engineers are typically required to possess a bachelor's degree.

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Essential Information

System engineers, also known as computer systems software engineers, combine their knowledge of engineering and computers to implement computer systems for businesses and organizations. A system engineer need at least a bachelor's degree to enter the workforce.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Additional Requirement Field experience
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 17%* (software developers)
Median Salary (2015) $100,690 annually* (software developers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties

System engineers carry out a variety of tasks. Their jobs require a combination of abilities, including system design and analysis as well as communication, mathematical and business skills. These professionals work with data and project managers to understand systems and consult with customers to determine their needs. They implement new systems, correct software errors in existing systems and improve performance through hardware upgrades. Systems engineers may also prepare progress and specifications reports, maintain their departments' inventory and oversee payroll.

Economic Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment of software developers would grow 17% from 2014 to 2024, which is significantly faster than average for other occupations (www.bls.gov). The development of Internet technologies, data driven communications and evolving business technologies will account for much of this growth. Additionally, companies will need engineers to update their systems and safeguard against cyber attacks. Positions will be available in a wide variety of industries, including government, telecommunications, healthcare and security solutions.

The median annual salary for system software developers or engineers was $105,570 in 2015, according to the BLS. Those in the top ten percent made $159,850 or more per year, while those in the bottom ten percent made $64,600 or less per year. Salaries varied by industry. For example, some of the highest-paid system software engineers worked for the securities and commodity exchange industry, which had an average salary of $128,980 per year.

Work Environment

Most system engineers work long hours, according to the BLS. Most positions are in clean and comfortable office environments or laboratories, in which injuries are rare. Mobile computing and communication continues to make telecommuting work possible within the industry.

Education Requirements

System engineers usually hold at least 4-year bachelor's degrees in computer science, software engineering or another related field. Computer science programs tend to include courses in programming, data structures, computer systems and software engineering. During college, students may benefit from taking industry-specific courses, such as business, management or accounting. Engineers may also be required to have extensive experience in the field, which they may gain through internships in undergraduate school. Additionally, some companies require their employees to hold graduate degrees or graduate-level certificates.

System engineers should have great technical, interpersonal, and business skills. They manage computer systems in a business environment and are responsible for resolving technical issues. Most system engineers have field experience and possess a bachelor's degree.

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