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Systems Engineer


Multi-ethnic coworkers working in computer server room
Blend Images - Jetta Productions/Dana Neely/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Systems engineering is a highly hands-on role. The systems engineer helps a company develop and maintain the many different technical components that make up a system.

Different Kinds of Systems:

There are actually many different kinds of systems out there, including:

  • military defense programs;
  • sewage systems;
  • telephone systems;
  • electric power systems;
  • information technology systems.

If we're talking about IT systems engineers, they will work with components such as infrastructure, hardware or system software, in order to ensure that they all work properly together.

Sample IT Systems Engineering Roles:

A systems engineer that focuses on local-area and wide-area networks (LAN/WAN), for example, may be expected to:

  • manage and monitor LAN/WAN network services;
  • recommend and acquire equipment replacements and upgrades;
  • maintain an inventory of all network devices;
  • draft and maintain LAN/WAN documentation and processes;
  • introduce and integrate new technologies into existing data center environments;
  • perform routine audits of systems and software; and
  • troubleshoot any reported problems.

Similarly, the duties of a systems engineer who focuses on Microsoft products may include:

  • installing, configuring, updating and maintaining server software/hardware;
  • high-level problem troubleshooting;
  • replacing failed hardware and addressing system problems;
  • tracking system capacity (CPU, memory, disk space, etc.) and reporting/correcting any issues;
  • installing software upgrades and security patches, and monitoring for intrusion signs;
  • assessing where the company stands as far as IT system performance/efficiency, compared to where it would like to be, and compiling recommendations on how to improve performance.

Training, Certification and Experience:

For IT systems engineering, most employers like to see a university degree or diploma in a computer-related discipline. On top of that, you will likely need a certification such as MCSE, as well as extensive knowledge of and experience with the technologies you will be working with.

Other systems engineering disciplines may require a university degree in engineering or applied science, as systems engineering could be viewed as a step up from a traditional engineering discipline. Some colleges offer undergraduate systems engineering programs, but they are not common.

Employers will want to see a good understanding of systems engineering methodology and practices, as well as solid experience in the life cycle of projects and products.

'Soft Skills' Requirements:

Systems engineers must also have very good communication, interpersonal and leadership skills, as they will probably have to coordinate with other types of staff – those in project management, security, asset management, customer service or help desk departments – in order to resolve problems and manage projects.

When you apply, your resume should also demonstrate your aptitude for learning new technologies, as well as excellent conflict resolution and decision-making skills, as those will be crucial to the position.

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