what is a systems engineer?

A systems engineer is a professional who applies engineering principles to develop and maintain efficient systems. They play a crucial role in various industries by solving multiple problems in systems. Unlike other engineers who solve issues in independent parts, a systems engineer takes a holistic approach by studying the interconnections of systems. When a systems engineer develops a system, they ensure it provides a positive user experience while considering the company objectives and operations.

what does a systems engineer do?

As a systems engineer, you are the interface between the stakeholders in the systems development process. That means your primary role revolves around defining, developing, testing, maintaining and replacing systems. You incorporate the views of the management, end-users, speciality engineers and suppliers to create an efficient system for your employer.

Systems aren't strictly related to computers, but they rely on engineering advancements and the latest technology. As a systems engineer, you can work in computer, mechanical, electrical and manufacturing systems to ensure all the components work together and meet the needs of the consumers. You also collaborate with various departments in a company to ensure a smooth production process and proper maintenance of the existing systems.

Would working as a systems engineer suit your problem-solving and innovation skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a systems engineer role.

systems engineer jobs

average salary of a systems engineer

According to ONS, a systems engineer’s average salary is £41,692 annually. When starting your career as a systems engineer, your earnings start from £33,516 per year. Experienced systems engineers with additional skills and expertise in various specialisms earn over £63,090 per year. Your compensation package will also include allowances and non-monetary benefits. Systems engineers enjoy medical, transport and house allowances and some employers provide overtime pay or bonuses. The non-monetary benefits include paid vacation days.

what factors increase your salary as a systems engineer?

A systems engineer's salary depends on experience level and qualifications. At an entry-level position, you have minimal skills and work experience; hence, your pay will be low compared to experienced systems engineers. Your skill level is also based on educational qualifications or specialism. Systems engineers with a degree earn more compared to someone with an apprenticeship. If you focus on a specific study area, you are likely to make more than a general systems engineer. For instance, specialising in computer systems increases your compensation package due to the additional expertise in the area.

Your employer's location can also impact your pay. Companies in major cities pay more due to the high cost of living and increased demand for systems engineers. Smaller towns have a low cost of living and lower demand for engineers, limiting your salary prospects.


Randstad employer brand photo, internal, people, consultants, branch, branches
Randstad employer brand photo, internal, people, consultants, branch, branches

types of systems engineers

  • computer systems engineer: your job is to design computer systems that fit your clients' needs. If a retail company requires a sales management system, you incorporate all the functions relevant to retail management like invoice and inventory management systems. You also advise on the best software and hardware tools for the computer system to function efficiently.
  • product development systems engineer: your job is to improve product development systems to help your company remain competitive. You develop systems that eliminate inefficiencies and troubleshoot problems that affect the product's quality standards.
  • biosystems engineer: as a biosystems engineer, you develop and maintain systems relating to the natural environment. Your duties may include analysing resource conservation or waste treatment systems. You can also create food processing systems for various industries.


working as a systems engineer

Are you wondering what a systems engineer does daily? Read on to find out the work routine and duties of a systems engineer:


education and skills

You need a firm grasp of engineering and business concepts to become a systems engineer. That requires educational qualifications, including:

  • university degree: if you are considering a career as a systems engineer, you should begin with an undergraduate course in industrial or systems engineering. The minimum requirements for the degree are 3 A-Levels, while a foundation degree requires 2 A Levels.
  • master's degree: while an accredited bachelor's degree can get you an entry-level position, the job's complexity requires a master's degree. A graduate qualification in systems engineering increases your prospects and chances of getting a managerial position.
  • work experience: to become a systems engineer, hands-on experience is invaluable. The work experience prepares you for chartered status and helps you secure a job.

skills and competencies

Systems engineers require hard and soft skills, including:

  • technical skills: as a systems engineer, you need technical skills role like using various software. Your job involves using modelling software, specialised equipment and multiple computer programmes. Technical skills will also help you accomplish your tasks faster.
  • analytical thinking: your role requires meticulous analysis of each task. For instance, you have to analyse a system as a whole or a sum of its parts before implementing changes. Analytical thinking and attention to detail help you factor in every aspect of the system before recommending alterations.
  • time management: a systems engineer prioritises tasks to meet deadlines. You are also responsible for determining project milestones and adjusting the timeline when changes occur. Your work will be easy if you have time management skills.
  • teamwork skills: as a systems designer, you collaborate with various professionals, from manufacturing employees to researchers, security experts and salespeople. You need teamwork skills to offer constructive feedback and direct teams to achieve a project's objectives.



FAQs about working as a systems engineer

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