Career Definition of a System Test Engineer
System test engineers work with computer hardware and software systems. Their role involves testing products that are being developed; these products use or work with computer technology. Test engineers' job is to demonstrate that the products they assess operate properly and are ready for production or distribution.
Part of their role involves creating a strategy for testing specific products; this may include using existing testing tools or creating their own automated scripts. They run the tests to gather relevant information about how the product performs. They use that test data to determine if there are issues that need to be addressed prior to end-user access. System test engineers may be involved in a range of tasks at this point. Some may need to review program code to identify issues in how software or applications are programmed. Some may collaborate with other staff teams to discuss test results and develop solutions to the issues identified. They may also prepare reports outlining their testing methods and results.
|Educational Requirements||Bachelor's degree|
|Job Skills||Analysis, communication, organization, computer programming, leadership, project management, problem-solving, design|
|Mean Salary (2018)*||$84,846|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)**|| 6% (engineers, all other)
9% (computer occupations, all other)
Sources: *Glassdoor.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Employers expect system test engineers to have a bachelor's degree and relevant experience. Common fields of study include computer engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, computer systems and information technology. Programs that include internships will provide students with an advantage when seeking work because they will have relevant practical experience. Industry-related training may be preferred for some opportunities, so courses in physics, aeronautics or robotics may be an asset when seeking some positions. For other roles, demonstrating programming proficiency and knowledge of programming languages such as C++, Java and Python may be an advantage.
System test engineers must have strong computer skills and the ability to work with computer hardware and software. They need programming skills to identify issues in programming code. Design skills are also important for system test engineers because they must develop effective methods to test different types of products. They also need strong analytical skills to process test data. Problem-solving skills are essential since they need to not only identify issues but also present options for correcting those issues.
Some of the largest employers of systems test engineers are government contractors. Some of these positions therefore require security clearances, including at the highest, Top Secret level. For any level of clearance, the government will look into where the applicant has lived over the past 10 years, employment history, military service, citizenship status, foreign contacts, police and financial records, drug and alcohol use, and more.
Career Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that from 2016 to 2026, the average rate of job growth for all occupations is expected to be 7%. While the BLS does not have information specific to the job title systems test engineer, looking at its engineering and computing categories suggests that test engineers can expect average growth as well; hardware engineers fall under the engineering category and software engineers and testers fall under the BLS computer category. The BLS reports a job growth rate of 6% for 'engineers, all other' and a rate of 9% for 'computer occupations, all other'; both rates fall into the average range.
As of 2018 Glassdoor.com indicated that system test engineers took home average annual incomes of $84,846. PayScale.com indicated that in 2018 the median annual salary for senior system test engineers was $100,196.
There are many different career options within the field of internet technology and individuals who are considering becoming a system test engineer may be interested in other computer-related roles. Explore what computer hardware engineers, software engineers and systems architects do through the links listed below.