When it comes to system engineers, people will often think of a somewhat monotonous job that only fixes errors from the computing system. However, the job description for system engineer is much more than that! 

Actually, this so-called tedious job also requires creativity and flexibility. One key aspect of a system engineer’s work is designing and coming up with ideas to tackle novel problems. Let’s see how far the media distortion has misled you by digging into system engineer roles and responsibilities!

Explore other careers’ job descriptions here: Job overview

Overall Job Description For System Engineer

In general, System Engineering is one of the jobs related to the development of the entire system and the IT management process of the firm. 

More specifically, they directly plan, implement, and expand computer systems. Another building block in the job description for system engineer is software maintenance and the whole system’s performance optimization.

In general, different firms have different system requirements; therefore, a system engineer’s regular responsibilities may range flexibly from one company to another. For example, a manufacturing company may demand inventory tracking systems. On the other hand, a cybersecurity business may ask its system engineer to advise customers about the hardware suitable to support the security system. 

Systems Engineering - A Utopian Profession Of Creativity!

A system engineer is improving the whole system’s performance – Source: coder.com.vn

Let’s dig into the particular duties of a typical system engineer:

Monitor And Manage The Entire Server System

Above all, this is the most crucial role of system engineer. In the role of a professional mastering software and hardware systems, they understand deeply the operating mechanism and factors affecting the system’s performance. They ensure the normal operation of the installed system and find technical opportunities to streamline the system efficiency. Furthermore, this job scope makes sure that the system and other infrastructures are under warranty of the highest availability.

In addition, system engineers can detect potential problems that may occur to the system through monitoring and testing. Thereby, it is possible to provide timely solutions to address those incidents beforehand.

Participate In System Design And Deployment

Another task in the job description for system engineer is designing the machine operating system and deploying its operation. In addition, system engineers will be responsible for writing and maintaining custom scripts to improve system efficiency. The support from the operating system is time-saving as it can perform specific laborious tasks. Equally important, writing algorithms and instructions to ensure the systems’ efficiency is another duty of a typical system engineer.

Install And Maintain The Operation Of The Operating System

System engineers are responsible for installing, testing, and operating the operating system’s software and applications. This role of system engineer is to ensure that the installed applications and software are compatible and operate stably, contributing to better performance. Additionally, the system engineer’s responsibilities include troubleshooting potential application incompatibility issues and ensuring that management tools are in proper working conditions. 

Install And Maintain The Operation Of The Operating System

Troubleshooting is detecting and fixing mechanical or electronic system flaws – Source: Testinium from Twitter

Undertake Security And Backup Tasks

As the computing system becomes more and more complex, there is an increasingly high number of advanced hacking techniques. Moreover, the cost of a hacked system is higher and higher. The company has to deal with the possibility of confidential information leakage, not to mention the financial loss if operational disruptions happen. 

Thus, the role of security and backup tasks is undeniably essential, and the system engineer serves as the big machine of a company. This duty requires them to have a solid knowledge of network security.

In general, security and backup tasks remain a vital role of system engineer and require close coordination and consensus among system engineers.

Develop Different Types Of Software

Indeed, creating software requires a more-than-normal skill level than that of a typical system engineer. These types of software include computer games or applications assisting routine business operation tasks, which are related to operating systems, management systems, network controllers, or other middlewares.

Above all, the development of software and systems requires the in-depth level of acquired knowledge, creativity, and gray matters. 

Develop Different Types Of Software

A system engineer is on his duty – Source: vhost.vn

Coordinate With Other People

In addition to primary missions, the system engineer also coordinates with suppliers or other employees to solve problems that they cannot handle on their own. This part requires more soft skills than their typical technical expertise. 

System Engineer Vs. System Administrator – You May Misname Them

Generally, system administrators (SysAdmin) oversee the systems. They get everything already set up; thus, their main duties are identifying and correcting faults in the computer system, not to mention updating, tracking, and maintaining them. 

Meanwhile, a system engineer has greater control over the design: what operating system to apply, what infrastructure and software to run, what feasible solution for a particular problem to choose.

Related Content: Panoramic Description & How To Get Well-Paid “Computer Repair Jobs Near Me”

How Much Does A System Engineer Earn?

As of May 8, 2021, the average earning of a system engineer in the United States is $92,508 per year, ranging from $38,000 to $142,500. According to Zip Recruiter, that average is equivalent to an attractive salary of $44.48 per hour!

Undoubtedly, with the complicated system engineer roles and responsibilities mentioned in the job description for system engineer, receiving this high wage is wholly deserved.

Let’s explore what the top 10 best-paying cities for system engineers in the US are:

RankCityAnnual SalaryMonthly PayWeekly PayHourly Wage
1Richmond, CA$113,191$9,433$2,177$54.42
2Stamford, CT$110,220$9,185$2,120$52.99
3Bellevue, WA$109,971$9,164$2,115$52.87
4Mountain View, CA$107,612$8,968$2,069$51.74
5Lakes, AK$106,114$8,843$2,041$51.02
6San Francisco, CA$106,088$8,841$2,040$51.00
7Palmdale, CA$104,946$8,746$2,018$50.45
8Santa Clara, CA$104,549$8,712$2,011$50.26
9Hartford, CT$104,343$8,695$2,007$50.16
10Pasadena, CA$103,961$8,663$1,999$49.98

Source: www.ziprecruiter.com

Similarly, here are the top 10 companies for system engineers in the US:

Top companies in Indeed.com

Source: www.indeed.com

More interestingly, let’s make a comparison with similar professions’ average pay:

job description for system engineer

Source: www.indeed.com

The fruit is sweet. Now let’s see what it costs to catch the ripe food.

How To Get This Dreamy Salary? 

Step 1: Get the Bachelor Degree in Systems Engineering (4 Years)

Anyone considering climbing this ladder needs to begin with a bachelor’s degree in systems, industrial, or another similar major. 

Notably, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is a non-governmental organization specializing in the standardization of several educational programs in Systems Engineering. Its evaluation is predominantly in the United States but has gradually expanded internationally.

Note that there are several admissions requirements for Bachelor’s Programs in Systems Engineering. Overall, these entrance criteria differ among different colleges. Here are some of the most common standards and requirements for admission for Systems Engineering Bachelor’s Programs:

  • A high school degree (or equivalent).
  • A total GPA of at least 3.5 in high school (varies among educational institutions).
  • An SAT score of at least 1250 or an ACT score of at least 28.
  • An admissions essay, normally covering educational and professional ambitions.

Keep in mind that some online systems engineering programs have extra criteria besides the ones mentioned above.

In general, the nature of systems engineering sometimes requires a master’s degree, though a bachelor’s degree is generally sufficient for an entry-level position.

Step 2: Get the Master Degree in Systems Engineering (2 Years)

Many companies prefer recruiting system engineers with master’s degrees, especially for high managerial vacancies.

In terms of admissions requirements, here are typical admissions criteria to participate in a System Engineering Master Program:

  • A bachelor’s degree in systems engineering, engineering, statistics, mathematics, quantitative management, or a similar area from an ABET-accredited organization ( Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.).
  • An aggregate undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 (varies among educational institutions).
  • Calculus and statistics courseworks at the undergraduate curriculum.
  • A statement of purpose.
  • Two or three letters of recommendation from employers, professors, or anyone who can confirm the candidate’s competence and prospects.
  • A specific level of GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) score.
Step 2: Get the Master Degree in Systems Engineering (2 Years)

Some recruiters prefer a system engineer with a master’s degree – Source: ksh.dlu.edu.vn

Step 3: Gain Hands-on Experience (2 Years)

Practice makes progress, and the systems engineering area is no exception. 

Equally important, real-life experience is a preparation for a Professional Engineer (PE) license, which requires at least 4 years of experience.

Step 4: Get the PE Licensure

Gaining a PE license issued by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) is optional. Still, we highly recommend earning one, as system engineers with PE qualifications are likely to take on higher positions, undertake more responsibilities, and make more money.

If you want to increase your income even more, consider earning a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering. In fact, it is only compulsory for professors and researchers.

Job Prospects – Popular System Engineering Majors

IT System Engineer

Typically, an IT system engineer’s primary missions are developing, testing, running, and reviewing software, servers, computer network, and more. They design and implement new software, upgrade the current system and hardware, and do whatever else necessary to streamline the organization’s procedures. 

Job Prospects - Popular System Engineering Majors

IT system engineering is not only for men – Source: careers.deutsche-boerse.com

Data Center System Engineer

In brief, some of the responsibilities of a data center systems engineer include, but are not limited to developing, running, and managing information or network systems at data centers. Additionally, they regularly inspect power and cooling systems to diagnose and fix defects that may endanger network performance.

As part of their duties, data center system engineers usually install, configure and maintain routers, firewalls, and virtual private networks. They also carry out adjusting storage, troubleshooting software breakdowns on operating systems.

Furthermore, data center system engineers are in charge of systems and accounts administration by managing user accounts, file-sharing permissions, and password reset. Either deploying or reviewing software patches and updates is another crucial role of system engineer in a data center.

Data Center System Engineer - job description for system engineer

Data center system engineers regularly inspect power and cooling systems to diagnose and fix defects – Source: teamsilverback.com

Software System Engineer

In general, software system engineers are responsible for designing, configuring, and coding software system programming applications. Besides creating new software or systems, their work description also entails upgrading the existing one to make it run smoother, faster, and more efficiently.

Logistics Engineer

The logistics system engineer’s primary duty is handling all activities related to the delivery of finished merchandise. More specifically, they develop and apply new methods for key stages of the goods’ storage, distribution, and delivery process to users. 

There are many job opportunities for logistics engineers in commercial and trade areas.

Logistics Engineer - job description for system engineer

Logistics engineers handle activities related to the delivery of final goods – Source: www.mynextmove.org

Product Development System Engineer

Product development system engineers are responsible for analyzing and programming systems related to product development. For example, they develop applications, like Amazon, Facebook Messenger, or Uber, specific to certain industries or problems. Product development system engineers usually work on the back-end side.

Transport System Engineer

As part of their duties, transport system engineers are responsible for the technical design, maintenance, and development of transportation systems at all stages. They develop traffic maintenance workflows, plan emergency evacuations, set up warning systems for tourists, and so on.

Transport System Engineer - job description for system engineer

A group of rail systems engineer is on duty – Source: raillynews.com


To conclude, working in system engineering requires a deep savvy, so it is always necessary to explore and learn from many sources. In addition, depending on different working environments and business structures, the system engineer will have various tasks.

Hopefully, through this article, you can acquire valuable information on system engineer roles and responsibilities to better understand the system engineering profession better and orient your career in the future.

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By Layla Anderson

Layla Anderson is a full-time career consultant and joined JobandEdu in 2021 as a freelance writer. Before joining, Layla helps students and entry-level worker finds their career path and guides them through the application process. She starts taking on writing as she believes all people deserve to know about job details and the application process as well as the working environment before actually making their life-changing choices. She also writes to share her interests and valuable and useful knowledge.

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