According to a NASA systems engineer job description, being a systems engineer is both an art and a science. It is an art because of the creativity required in design and needing to lead people. It is a science because of the rigorous process and protocols they must follow. However, three major things matter most: people, processes, and products. This systems engineer job description will cover everything such as typical responsibilities, essential skills required education, and job outlook.

What Does a Systems Engineer Do?

Systems engineers need to have a background in mechanical, industrial, or electrical engineering. They oversee the entire computer system and make sure that everything is working together. The network of equipment is very complex and requires someone who knows everything about it. Ideally, a systems engineer will work with a team to build the computer network together. However, this does not always happen. Sometimes, the system engineer must perform damage control while fixing pieces of the system that are not working as well as they could.

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The system engineer job salary is $69,351 on average, according to Payscale. However, there is a large range depending on the size and structure of the company. Full-time work is typical, and they are sometimes expected to spend extra hours. There are approximately 80,000 systems engineers. A systems engineer job description will show that a bachelor’s degree is mandatory.

Systems Engineer Job Description for Resume – Responsibilities

Systems engineers can work in practice or research. However, testing systems and understanding how all components work together is vital to the job. The system engineer roles and responsibilities are vast and crucial to a company.

  • Establish a direction for the computer systems in a company. Additionally, make sure that the requested specifications from the company are into the system.
  • Stay current on data privacy and security features. Also, determine if they fit in your respective company’s system.
  • Force clients to discern between needed and wanted features of the system. Part of systems engineering is judging the most vital features that need implementation.
  • Institute the necessary training for other engineers. Therefore, you should establish a shared understanding of the requirements of the system.
  • Use research and development processes to prioritize quick updates and those that will take more time.
  • Explain in common terms what the system can and cannot accomplish.
  • Engage in continuous professional development to stay current in the field.

Systems Engineer Required Skills

  • Process oriented skills. The engineering design process is all about what happens from start to finish to make an idea come to reality. These professionals must decide the steps of the process and ensure that the system will work.
  • Software skills. Systems engineers need to be knowledgeable in many different software. These include Linux, Cisco Networking, VMware ESX, and Microsoft Active Directory. Understanding what these tools can do and how they can help you do your job are crucial.
  • Problem-solving skills. Systems engineers will regularly encounter problems in their job. Whether it is a part of the system that needs updates, a potential security breach, or a failure in the network, these professionals need to think on their feet. In addition, they should develop a repertoire of solutions to commonly encountered problems.
  • Risk-analysis skills. Systems engineers will constantly need to balance risks and potential data entry points with the cost of security. Therefore, they need to resolve possible annoyances to employees for having to complete tasks like double authentication or password management. However, they also need to consider what risk is worth taking.

How to Become a Systems Engineer

Systems engineers will need their bachelor’s degree, typically in an engineering field. However, a degree in computer science is also acceptable. There is no prior experience required to be a systems engineer. Those without experience will start in lower positions.

Education & Training Requirements

Systems engineers need a bachelor’s degree, and some employers prefer a master’s degree in engineering or business. Also, a student should look for an engineering program that is accredited by ABET. Degrees from those programs are preferable for employers. The systems engineering course load should be heavy in math and science.

Engineering students can gain practical experience in a few ways. First, they will work on projects in their courses that prepare them for the type of work they will do. Second, they can obtain at least one internship with a company to connect to the field and apply theory to practice. Third, exceptional students will job shadow to get a further understanding what systems engineers do at different companies.

There are no required certificates for systems engineers. However, they should have an interdisciplinary understanding of how systems work. A current systems engineer recommends that students read a variety of case studies to see how they solve problems in the field.

Work Experience

There is no required prior work experience for systems engineers. This job is highly in demand, and many entry-level positions are available. Also, because of the popularity of this position, many free online courses can give added experience to include in a portfolio. Udacity offers an example of one of these programs.

According to the systems engineer job description, entry-level positions will naturally have less responsibility and more oversight than senior level positions.

Work Schedules

The majority of these professionals work full-time and in a technology firm. This is one of those positions where working on-site is not always necessary. Therefore, they can work virtually and at different hours of the day depending on the nature of the project. Systems engineers who have a management role will have stricter hours. In addition, they will need to be on location. These professionals may work in research prototyping possible systems or within a company actually implementing the system. While there are no on-call hours per say, if an issue arises within the system it would not be unusual to troubleshoot at inconvenient hours.

Career Prospects

Unlike the hardware side of technology, which will see minimal growth, systems engineers can expect a projected job increase of 13 percent through the year 2024. There are constantly new devices, software, and security threats to deal with in the world of information technology. More and more people are gaining access to the internet. Thus, systems engineers have a significant role to play in this world. Although job opportunities are plentiful, there will be a lot of qualified candidates. The most competitive applicants will have an awareness of programming and fluency in one or more programming languages.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median systems engineer salary is $98,260. This is slightly higher than the average reported to Payscale. The highest paying industries are computer product manufacturing and software publishers. This is a detail-oriented job and requires a high level of precision and focus. You can also check out other best paying engineering jobs.


Overall, a systems engineer job description will point to different aspects of managing the entire system of computing. They have an excellent salary but are expected to work long hours and get projects completed on tight deadlines. Being skilled analytically is an asset that will make the system engineer more productive and efficient in their job. As a systems engineer, you will need to work closely with the CTO, so make sure to learn about their responsibilites as well.