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Systems Engineer: Strategies for a Successful Career

Apr 21, 2023
Systems Engineer: Strategies for a Successful Career

The job of a systems engineer incorporates a wide range of disciplines, all of which contribute to the final goal: the seamless operation of a system or set of processes. Successful system operation is enabled by a systems engineer's application of engineering, technology, and data analysis principles. In this article, we will go over the steps necessary to become a systems engineer, as well as provide details about the job, typical salary, and possible career paths.

What does a systems engineer do?

A systems engineer is responsible for coordinating all aspects of systems engineering, from conceptualization to implementation and validation.

They are versatile and able to work on various systems, from software and networks to the physical components of machinery. While a systems engineer may not be an expert in every component, they understand how each piece fits into the larger picture. With this knowledge, they can create and maintain reliable and effective systems. Typical responsibilities include project management, prototyping, testing, and coordinating with other specialists.

Due to the diverse industries in which systems engineers can work, their day-to-day responsibilities vary by field and company. However, the following are some typical duties:

  • Collaborating with teams to determine and set up system and network requirements, such as design, integration, data usage, and software and hardware components 
  • Helping upper management and engineers with project cost estimation, system design, and resolving problems within those systems and networks
  • Creating project guidelines and technical specifications
  • Evaluating the scalability of system designs and verifying system architecture
  • Improving the system's usability, security, and compatibility by implementing new technological solutions
  • Making system designs more automated through the development and implementation of automated processes
  • Developing guidelines for system security and design compatibility 

Why pursue a career as a systems engineer?

Long story short, a job as a systems engineer offers a high salary, personally rewarding work, and demand that is expected to grow long-term. Below are the benefits of this profession, point by point. 


When considering a career change or making a career choice, most people's first concern is financial. After all, we work to live, not the other way around, and we all need to make enough money to support our lifestyles. So here are the figures: systems engineer yearly salaries begin at $80,000 for entry-level positions and $250,000 for senior systems engineers.

High demand

While exact employment numbers for systems engineers are not yet available from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau anticipates a 10% rise in job availability for industrial engineering-related occupations over the next decade. 

On top of that, the rising need for cloud infrastructure is outpacing the current supply of systems engineers.

Flexible schedule

In most cases, a systems engineer position in a tech company will involve a traditional 40-hour workweek with the option of working remotely and flexible hours. However, keep in mind that some projects require additional time to complete.

Growth potential

Many systems engineers begin their careers as network or systems administrators. These positions help you gain the knowledge and experience needed to become a systems engineer. As you gain experience, you can advance to a career in DevOps, security, or cloud engineering, for example.

What skills are required?

The job-specific skills required to become a successful systems engineer will vary depending on the industry. However, the following are the most fundamental skills necessary for systems engineers to succeed in almost any field.

Computer engineering and software development skills

Systems engineers in any field require a solid understanding of computer engineering and general software development. These requirements are standard for anyone looking for work in the tech sector. 

Project management skills

Since a project's success depends heavily on planning and implementation, systems engineers must be able to see the system through to completion and understand the steps required within a process. 

Effective communication

Systems engineers play a vital role in the systems development process, serving as the go-to point of contact for all the members involved in the process, from upper management to end users and developers. That is why clear and concise communication is essential. 

An example is the ability to explain complex technical concepts to teammates with less scientific or engineering knowledge. 

Detail-oriented and "big picture" thinking 

Success in this field also requires analytical thinking and the ability to foresee potential obstacles. Since systems are composed of many interconnected parts that work together to produce a final output, systems engineers must be able to both focus on the details and see the big picture to take a project from its conceptual stage to its implementation. 

How to become a successful engineer 

If you believe that you possess all of the above, or even if you do not but are happy to learn, this position may be right for you. Let us dive deeper into the qualifications you need to become a systems engineer.

Get a degree or certification

The first step toward becoming a systems engineer is to get a bachelor's degree in systems engineering, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, or a related discipline. However, remember that even an online-based bachelor's program will take you between four and five years to complete and cost at least $15,000. 

If you want to further your education, you can apply for a master's degree, which is usually more tailored and industry-specific. However, it is a good idea to gain some relevant work experience first to learn more about the field you intend to enter.

If you do not have years to devote to education, another way to gain the necessary skills and knowledge is to get certified by an accredited organization. Here are a few options:

Keep in mind that these certification programs can be particularly challenging for entry-level specialists who lack relevant experience and knowledge. 

Get some hands-on experience

Acquiring some applicable work experience is essential because it allows you to familiarize yourself with the field and the various possible areas of specialization. 

You might be wondering, "How and where can I do that?" Many systems engineers begin their careers as systems or network administrators. The skills you gain in these roles can help prepare you for a career as a systems engineer.

Or enroll now and get the job you want in less than a year

If everything mentioned above seems like a long road and you do not have that much time to spend, worry no more! You can complete all of the steps outlined above in a much shorter time by enrolling in our training program designed to help you land your dream job as a systems engineer.

With an average of six to eight hours per week and just six months, you can become a certified systems engineer and launch a successful tech career without any prior experience in the field. Curious to find out what this course has to offer? Keep reading, and we will fill you in! 

LIVE training sessions

You have a choice of either live classes twice a week or, if you prefer to study at your own pace, accessing recorded sessions at your convenience. 

Career Coaching

If you get stuck with the program material, your personal support manager will assist you with any questions. When it is time to start looking for a job, your coach will guide you through the process, from building your resume to practicing for interviews and following up with a prospective employer.

Internship included

Interning in systems engineering is a great way to gain experience and insight into the field. Careerist can assist you in finding one! When you graduate from the program and begin applying for jobs, you will have relevant experience that looks good on paper and demonstrates that you have already tried your hand in the industry.

Interview preparation

Our number one goal is to help you land the job you want, so we will show you how to create a killer resume and LinkedIn profile, craft persuasive cover letters, and ace mock interviews. In fact, you are free to practice as much as you like, record your responses, and receive feedback from your coach.

Automatic job application system  

In addition to our tried-and-true methods for finding work and your coach`s guidance, we will also give you access to JAS, our job application system that scours the web for openings and helps you to apply for jobs. 

Before you go

We hope this post has given you some insight into becoming a systems engineer. Thank you for reading! And now it is time to take the first steps toward your dream job. To get started, you can sign up for our Systems Engineering Program beginning. Register now to save your spot!

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