A systems engineer is an information technology worker who designs, implements and maintains computer systems software. Many obtain at least a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or a related discipline. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated their salaries under the occupational title of systems software developers in 2010.
Master’s degree programs in systems engineering typically require at least 36 additional credits or approximately two years of education beyond a bachelor’s degree. Most educational institutions require a bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline, computer science, mathematics or physics to qualify for the master’s degree program. The average salary for this occupation was $97,960 per year in 2010.
Salaries can vary based not only on education but experience and knowledge of particular types of technology. Some employers offer salary incentives or increases based on employees’ education levels. Salaries in the 10th through 90th percentiles ranged from $61,040 to $143,330 per year, according to the BLS. The 25th percentile earned $75,720 per year and the 75th percentile earned $117,670 per year.
The highest levels of employment for systems engineers were in the computer systems design and software publishing industry. The computer systems design industry paid an average salary of $96,830 per year, and the software publishing industry paid an average salary of $100,840 per year. Salaries and job opportunities for high-paying industries often increase for those who obtain a master’s degree. The highest-paying industry included machinery and equipment wholesalers and the satellite telecommunications industry. Machinery and equipment wholesalers paid an average salary of $114,880 per year, and the satellite telecommunications industry paid an average salary of $110,880 per year.
The bureau expects 32 percent growth for computer software engineers, which includes systems and applications software engineers. Systems engineer occupations ranked no. 1 in CNNMoney’s Best Jobs in America in 2009, and no. 49 in 2010. Evolving technology and an increasing awareness of the need for systems security gives those in this occupation job security, even in a tough economy.