What does a Systems Engineer do?


Systems Engineers are essential to large scale IT projects and developments. Systems engineering focuses on how to design and manage IT systems over their life cycle. Read on as we dive into the role of a system engineer and their responsibilities. 

Think of a systems engineer as a conductor in an orchestra. Without a conductor there to oversee the music group, you’re going to get a ton of disharmony and poor results. And so, just like the musicians, the development of new systems must also be monitored and coordinated holistically. This is where a system engineer comes in. 

Their main task is to coordinate the individual departments with one another and to guarantee a smooth production process. The system engineer has the task of precisely analyzing all components and departments in order to avoid issues and delays

Job Profile – Systems Engineer

Where can you work?

A systems engineer can find employment in a wide variety of industries ranging from mechanical to electrotechnical and IT industries. Some possible fields include: 

  • Robot or aircraft construction
  • Micro and nanotechnology
  • Measuring and diagnostic equipment 
  • Automated factories
  • Software integration

Responsibilities of a Systems Engineer

System engineers consider, design, manage, and optimize complex systems. This can be a single module or an entire application system. 

System engineers hold the reins in their hands when developing systems or products, as they oversee the entire process from conception, through production and operation, to subsequent recycling. 

Responsibilities of a Systems Engineer
Responsibilities of a Systems Engineer

Every day, system engineers face the challenge of coordinating the various processes in the specialist departments. They bring the threads together in interdisciplinary projects. They analyze requirement profiles, carry out simulations in advance, and make an estimate based on the risks involved. 

The range of tasks of a system engineer, therefore, ranges from project management and analysis to quality assurance. You always have the overall problem in view: operation, time, test, creation, costs and planning, training, and support as well as disposal.

In companies, system engineers often take on the task of planning, installing, and building IT infrastructures. Since they are so essential for a smooth workflow, they are an indispensable success factor for companies.

The specific tasks include:

  • Design and creation of a complex and efficient process system
  • Preparation of catalogs listing requirements
  • Modeling, simulation, optimization, and final evaluation of the system design
  • Documentation, functional descriptions, and manual creation
  • Management and configuration of controls
  • Validation and verification of the system’s design
  • Risk management of critical values 
  • Reliability and error analysis as well as quality assurance
  • Execution of project management tasks such as project planning
  • Presentations of the system design

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What skills does a systems engineer need?

As a systems engineer, you shouldn’t just be interested in specific technical processes. A systems engineer should be used to thinking outside the box and must have a talent for the organization. 

Systems Engineer - Skills Required
Systems Engineer – Skills Required

You will likely communicate with a wide variety of employees up to senior management. Interacting with a wide variety of employee groups requires excellent communication skills. 

Empathy, patience, and persuasiveness are also qualities that you need.

Skills required: 

  • Knowledge of information security and integration
  • Working understanding of code and scripting
  • Technical tools such as Tomcat, Apache, Ruby, JBoss and NGINX
  • Familiar with AWS cloud experience 
  • Virtualization tools such as VMware and Virtual Box
  • Strong communication skills and conflict management
  • Broad technical understanding on a basic level
  • Specialized industry-specific knowledge
  • Process understanding/process knowledge
  • Basics of project management
  • Organizational and creative skills
  • Strong decision-making ability

How do you become a systems engineer?

A Bachelor’s degree in computer science or software engineering is the first step towards becoming a Systems Engineer. This takes about 4 years of education that gives the professional an understanding of programming and IT architecture. 

A Systems Engineering degree at a Master’s level can further enhance your knowledge and help you specialize within the role. This can result in higher employment chances and increased earnings prospects. Employers often require that candidates have a master’s degree for positions at the managerial level.

Besides, there are several certifications that could add to your resume. Some to consider:

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The salary of a systems engineer depends on the complexity and size of the systems to be managed. For new graduates, the annual starting salary is up to $70,000. The average salary with a few years of experience is $96,000. At senior level roles with considerable professional experience, annual salaries of up to $121,000 are to be expected. 

In addition to the size of the company, the industry, region, specialization, area of ​​responsibility and professional experience are also decisive factors influencing the salary of a systems engineer.

For instance, the average salary of a Junior System engineer in Germany is approximately €52,000, while it goes up to €68,000 for senior professionals.

How much does a systems engineer make?


What is the average freelance rate for a systems engineer?

The freelancermap rate index in September 2020 shows an average hourly rate of $88. Considering an 8-hour working day, freelance engineers make about $704 a day.

Average Freelance Rate of a Systems Engineer
Average Freelance Rate of a Systems Engineer
Natalia Campana

Natalia is part of the international team at freelancermap. She loves the digital world, social media and meeting different cultures. Before she moved to Germany and joined the freelancermap team she worked in the US, UK and her home country Spain. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at www.freelancermap.com


    • Hello Benjamin, thank you for your comment. Like we wrote in our article, a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or Software Engineering is the first step towards a career in System Engineering. After that, you could continue with a Master level or decide to add some certifications to your CV.

      If you’ll decide to work as a freelancer, on freelancermap you’ll find many job opportunities you can apply for: http://www.freelancermap.com/it-projects/system-engineer

      I hope it helps. If you have more questions, do not hesitate to contact us again: info@freelancermap.com

      Good luck!

By Natalia Campana

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