If you like taking the big view, working as a systems engineer may be the right career choice for you. Systems integration engineers focus on the entire system, not just a single piece of it in isolation. They're responsible for making sure the hardware, software, and network function together with appropriate performance and security.
Succeeding as a systems engineer means being well rounded technically, as well as having good interpersonal skills. Here are four skills essential to your success.
1. Understand computer hardware, software, and networking
Systems integration engineers typically have a degree in computer science, computer engineering, or other technical disciplines. Solving system integration problems requires the ability to understand all the different components of a deployed solution. Because integration issues often arise when older technology must be coupled with newer technology, systems integration engineers should enjoy constant learning.
2. Enjoy both analytical and hands-on work to solve problems
Systems integration engineers have to untangle difficult interoperability issues that arise when different application components are developed, at different times, by separate teams. This can require analysis of application and network logs, as well as writing middleware code to make components work together. Systems integration engineers often are involved with testing the system, including unit testing of middleware and complete end-to-end testing of the application.
3. Communicate well with customers and other engineers
Because they solve middleware issues, systems integration engineers should be able to participate in technical discussions with other systems integration engineers and their software engineering and network engineering colleagues, to discuss application and architectural issues. They should be able to develop technical documents to propose alternative solutions, document the implemented design, and define test cases.
4. Bring a focused attitude to work with a strong attention to detail
The solution to systems integration problems often is found by understanding the fine points of the application. Systems integration engineers should have the persistence to methodically work through a problem and multiple potential solutions to identify the best approach for resolving it. Systems integration engineers may need to switch focus from thinking about long-term design issues to solving an immediate application issue, so the ability to switch between tasks without losing focus is key.
As computer applications and the environments they run in become ever more complex, there's no end to the challenges systems integration engineers need to solve, making this an exciting career for technically oriented thinkers who thrive on variety.