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What does a System Engineer do?

Learn all about System Engineer duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become a System Engineer.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 4 min read

A system engineer is responsible for the design, implementation, and maintenance of systems. They may work in a variety of industries, including computer science, engineering, and information technology. System engineers typically have a bachelor's degree in a related field.

System Engineer job duties include:

  • Research, design, develop, and test operating systems-level software, compilers, and network distribution software for computing environments.
  • Design and develop system engineering documentation.
  • Develop system models and specifications to identify system performance requirements.
  • Perform trade studies to optimize system architecture.
  • Develop cost models and life cycle costing estimates.
  • Interface with hardware engineers to resolve driver and interface issues.
  • Generate system-level performance analyses and metrics.
  • Validate system designs through simulations and prototypes.
  • Support the fielding of new systems by developing system installation, configuration, and deployment procedures.

System Engineer Job Requirements

System engineers typically have a bachelor's degree in computer science, information systems, engineering, or a related field. They may also have a master's degree or doctorate in a related field. Many system engineers are certified by professional organizations such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) or the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE). System engineers typically have several years of experience in a related field such as software engineering, network engineering, or systems analysis.

System Engineer Skills

  • System engineering
  • Requirements gathering
  • Systems analysis
  • Systems design
  • Systems integration
  • Systems testing
  • Systems deployment
  • Systems operations
  • Systems maintenance
  • Configuration management
  • Change management
  • Problem solving

Related: Top System Engineer Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a System Engineer

Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field of engineering and engineering management that focuses on how to design and manage complex systems over their life cycles. At its core, systems engineering integrates all the disciplines and specialty groups into a team effort forming a structured development process that proceeds from concept to production to operation. Systems engineering is a holistic approach that uses systems thinking to ensure successful realization, operation, and evolution of the system.

The first step to becoming a systems engineer is to get a bachelor's degree in engineering or a related field such as computer science. Many systems engineers have master's degrees or even PhDs. The next step is to gain experience working in the field of system design and management. This can be done through internships, co-op programs, or working on projects as part of a team. Once you have gained some experience, you can then start to specialize in one or more areas of systems engineering such as requirements management, system architecture, or software development.

There are many professional organizations for systems engineers such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE). These organizations offer certification programs that can help you further your career. In addition, attending conferences and networking with other professionals is a great way to stay up-to-date on new trends and technologies.

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