Systems engineer
Computer & Systems Management

Systems engineers design, develop and improve engineering systems. They work on the whole system, and may be involved in all aspects of design, development, integration, manufacturing and marketing. They need a broad knowledge of engineering and must be able to guide the development of the system through all its stages.

Work Activities

Modern engineering systems are large and complex. They include telecommunications networks, defence systems, air traffic control systems and manufacturing production plants. They are all made up of tightly or loosely connected building blocks.

Systems engineers are responsible for the smooth running of the whole system. They get involved with research and design, manufacturing, repairs, maintenance and marketing. Systems engineering isn't just about knowledge of different areas of engineering - it's about making systems work by taking into account all the factors involved. These include specifications and targets, the development of systems over time, the processes and methods involved, as well as economic, safety, quality and environmental considerations. They need to write reports which list resources needed, including people, machinery, technology and finance.

Systems engineers may have an in-depth knowledge of one specialist area, although it's essential that they have a broad knowledge of many subjects, like electronics, mechanics, ergonomics and computer software.

A typical engineering system involves many different types of engineer working together as a team; the systems engineer must be able to understand and support the work of all the different team members.

Systems engineers need a broad knowledge because they often manage projects; this may involve leading teams made up of engineers from different backgrounds.

Systems engineers use computer-aided design (CAD) systems to produce computer models of working systems.

They have to understand both the manufacturer's and operators' points of view. Systems engineers may also work with sales and marketing departments.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of systems engineering: Major employers are those in aeronautical, motor and defence engineering. However, systems engineers also work for firms in manufacturing, energy, communications, construction, computing, transportation, chemical, water, robotics, marine and offshore industries and in government departments.

Opportunities occur for systems engineers to work as independent consultants or in partnership with other specialists in professional practice.


Entry requirements will vary for each apprenticeship or degree so it is important to check with individual employers or universities.

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