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Systems Software Engineers

Systems software engineers research, design, develop and test operating systems-level software, network distribution software and compilers that allow computers to perform their various applications. They're involved with industrial, medical, communications, military, scientific, business, aerospace and general computing applications.

Systems software engineers are often asked to analyze the needs of users and design, create and modify basic computer systems. Systems software engineers also specify and analyze software requirements and establish operational specifications.


  • Coordinate the construction and maintenance of a business or organization's computer systems
  • Plan for future growth of computer systems
  • Coordinate the computer needs for every department of a business
  • Make recommendations regarding technical issues
  • Set up intranet and networks that link computers within the company
  • Configure, implement and install complete computer systems
  • Work in a team that designs new software, hardware and systems

Job Characteristics

Software systems engineers typically work in offices and computer laboratories. Most software systems engineers work at least 40 hours per week. However, due to typically working on projects they sometimes work in the evenings and on weekends in order to meet deadlines.

Due to modems, the Internet and e-mail they're able to give technical support and other types of services from their main office and connect to customer's computer remotely to work on problems.

A computer systems software engineer must be good at analyzing, problem solving, using logic and reasoning, and mathematics. Having knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology is very beneficial. Having the ability to arrange things or actions in a particular pattern or order based on a specific set of rules is important.

Computer systems software engineers need to have a good understanding of design techniques and tools. They also need a solid foundation in the principles that are involved in the production of precision technical plans, drawings, blue prints and models.

Employment Outlook

In 2016 the number of computer systems software engineers positions is projected to be 449,000 which is a 28% increase from 2006. The median annual earnings in 2006 for computer systems software engineers was $85,370. Two of the highest paying fields in popular industries for the occupation are research and development in the physical, engineering and life sciences, and scientific research and development services.

System software engineers have opportunities to move up to supervisor or management jobs. Those with degrees in specialities including aerospace, electronics and industrial engineering are eligible to move into other departments and jobs. Some software systems engineers take sales positions. Software systems engineers are typically involved with continuing education and attend seminars in order to acquire new skills and stay current with changes in technology.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

Most employers require systems software engineers to have at least a bachelor's degree. Those interested in the occupation typically focus on computer science and computer information systems courses. Software systems engineer jobs that require a high level of technical knowledge usually require a master's degree.


Major Employers

The primary fields of employment are research and development in the physical, engineering and life sciences; scientific research and development services; software publishers, computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing; data processing, hosting and related services; and computer systems design and related services.

Schools for Software Engineers For Systems are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Software Engineers For Systems

To find out more about building a career as Systems Software Engineers, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Most Popular Industries for :
Software Engineers For Systems

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Professional And Technical Services 162,240 42% $93,180
Electronics And Computer 53,340 14% $97,450
Traditional Publishing 26,640 7% $93,510
Telecommunications 18,610 4% $87,020
Durable Goods Wholesale 18,090 4% $95,210
Internet Service Provider 14,650 3% $87,730
Office Services And Staffing 14,200 3% $85,870
Automotive And Vehicle Manufacturing 13,120 3% $90,780
Business Management 10,770 2% $88,290
Banking And Credit 9,990 2% $92,690
Other Information Services 6,910 1% $107,240
Securities And Investment 5,380 1% $98,230
Insurance 4,200 1% $84,370
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Software Engineers For Systems.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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