Engineering Career Resources

Systems Engineer Job Description

Systems Engineer Job Description

Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field of engineering. A systems engineer's primary focus is how to design or manage an engineering project. According to the International Council of System Engineering, an engineer in this field will focus on several clients’ needs during the system building process, from project definition to design implementation. A systems engineer must be comfortable working in leadership. Requiring an extensive knowledge in the engineering disciplines, the systems engineer is responsible for leading other engineers and clients throughout the project. Once assigned to a project, the systems engineer must identify possible problems presented in the project that may cause a possible delay or exceed the budget. After identifying the problems, the leader is responsible for finding the appropriate solutions.


A systems engineer must have a solid knowledge of mathematics and business, and excellent communication and people skills. The ability to accept input from all team members and then make a good decision is in the best interest of any project, so good analysis and teamwork skills are an asset.

Systems engineers must be able to identify a customer’s needs even when the customer is not entirely sure what he or she needs, and lay out the options in terms that are easy to understand. Analytical skills are essential to discovering system requirements and ensuring that the system meets the client’s operational needs.

Although systems engineering is an engineering discipline, systems engineers usually work in many other areas because they are required to think outside of the engineering box. The exact duties vary with each project and experience. The worker must be diligent, reliable, organized and have excellent time management skills.

As a leader, the systems engineer must know how to use certain tools or methods and be familiar with concepts related to statistics, logistics, reliability, system analysis, and optimization. Systems engineering tools include techniques, procedures and strategies that help engineers do their job and their purpose can be anything from simulation, document production and graphical browsing to database management. Systems engineers must have excellent organizational skills as they are usually managers responsible for overseeing complex projects across a variety of sectors.


Systems engineers usually have a degree in one of the engineering disciplines, such as electrical engineering, industrial engineering, or mechanical engineering. Most employers require some relevant work experience in the field.


Also called a computer system software engineer, the system engineer's projects are completed in life cycles and he or she is responsible for making sure the client’s needs are met throughout the system’s life cycle. A project typically starts with uncovering the system requirements and then identifying and investigating alternatives. Once the project is designed, the systems engineer is responsible for implementing, integrating, testing and evaluating the system. After the completion of the project, it is the responsibility of the systems engineer to evaluate and make changes to the system as required. Systems engineers will typically assess the system’s performance, and re-evaluate it when necessary with the goal of ensuring it runs as smoothly as possible, reducing risks and costs, and increasing the probability of the system’s success.