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What Is a Systems Engineer and How to Become One

What Do Systems Engineers Do?

The role of a systems engineer varies based on the company they work for, but in every industry systems engineers use computerized systems to keep track of all the moving parts within their organizations. The term systems engineer usually refers to a computer systems engineer, which combines several disciplines to create, purchase, and install a computer system that suits the needs of each particular client. They will also work in a hands-on manner during the installation, acquisition, testing, and implementation phases of the project. Duties typically include making recommendations for scalability, troubleshooting any problems that arise during the use of the system, reviewing a company’s security requirements, and recommending security measures to allow the company to avoid compromising any sensitive data.

How Do I Get a Career as a Systems Engineer?

Earning an associate degree in computer systems engineering and science is a good start for entry-level opportunities for individuals interested in this career path. In undergrad, you should take courses in network design and maintenance, computer systems programming, business telecommunications, electrical circuits, and computer science. A bachelor’s degree is required for most advanced positions in this field and will provide a more in-depth study of subjects such as data transmission, microprocessors, and security. General coursework includes calculus, computer science, physics, engineering, and specialized classes in differential equations, electromagnetics, computer design, and wireless networking. In order to work in education or academic research, a master’s degree or doctorate in systems engineering will likely be necessary.

What Is the Difference Between a Systems Engineer and a Software Engineer?

A software engineer designs and creates engineering specifications for software programs based on a broad knowledge of information systems. They typically work with QA and hardware engineers to develop testing plans. Software engineers might also determine what development methodology to use after documenting software requirements. Systems engineers do some of the same work as software engineers, also developing software components; however, systems engineering involves specifying, maintaining, and supporting technical infrastructure. Systems engineers also perform high-level root cause analysis for service interruptions and help ensure that the services and system get back online after the problem is resolved.

What Is Systems Engineering?

Systems engineering is a fusion of engineering management and engineering with a focus on designing and managing complex systems. Systems engineers deal with work-processes, risk management, and organization methods when going through the steps of a project. They ensure that all elements of a project or a system are taken into account and integrated into a whole.

Systems Engineer Job Description Sample

With this Systems Engineer job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Systems Engineer role.

Job Summary

We are currently seeking a systems engineer to work within our team, helping to build out, maintain, and troubleshoot our infrastructure. He/she must be equipped and able to work in a dynamic and rapidly expanding environment. This person will serve as part of a talented team of engineers who collectively demonstrate excellent technical competence, reliability in delivering mission-critical infrastructure, and who continually ensure the highest levels of accessibility, optimization, and security. Qualified systems engineers applicants will have a strong background in IT, computer systems engineering, or systems engineering and analysis.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Ability to manage and monitor all installed systems and infrastructure
  • Oversight of infrastructure including installing, configuring, testing and maintaining operating systems, application software and system management tools
  • Ability to see potential issues and proactively ensure the highest levels of systems and infrastructure accessibility
  • Monitor and test performance of applications, foreseeing potential bottlenecks and identifying possible solutions
  • Ability to work with developers to implement those fixes
  • Continual maintenance of security, including backup and redundancy strategies
  • Competency in writing and maintaining custom scripts to increase system efficiency and lower downtime due to required human intervention
  • Desire to work alongside the team to help design information and operational support systems
  • Consistently and successfully provide 2nd and 3rd level support
  • Excellence in communication as a liaison with vendors and other IT personnel to resolve issues

Requirements and Qualifications

  • BS/MS degree in Computer Science, Engineering or a similar field
  • Proven working experience in the above fields including installing, configuring and troubleshooting UNIX /Linux based environments
  • Evidence of experience in the administration and performance tuning of application stacks (e.g., Tomcat, JBoss, Apache, Ruby, NGINX)
  • Significant Cloud experience, preferably in AWS
  • Evidence of experience with virtualization and containerization (e.g., VMware, Virtual Box)
  • Proven ability to successfully and efficiently monitor systems
  • Experience with automation software in order to optimize efficacy (e.g., Puppet, CFEngine, Chef)
  • Proven scripting skills (e.g., shell scripts, Perl, Ruby, Python)
  • Strong networking knowledge (OSI network layers, TCP/IP)