Everything you need to know about security cleared systems engineer jobs

A systems engineer is a highly skilled professional who identifies and fixes issues within a system. These experts also design new solutions and take responsibility for consulting on the most appropriate software and hardware for their clients.

Working within this role requires both excellent technical skills and management proficiencies. As such, it’s a highly sought-after position in the UK and across the world. Moreover, as technology continues to improve, systems engineers will need to constantly evolve their knowledge of the latest advancements.

The nature of systems engineering means that working within the position requires high-level access to company data. For individuals with the ability to gain certain security clearances, recruiters may offer more lucrative compensation packages. Systems engineers are needed across almost all industries, meaning the opportunity for security cleared jobs is significantly higher than in many other areas.

To be a good systems engineer you will need to have a grasp of information technology principles and complex systems. Depending on the area of systems engineering you decide to specialise in, you may find a project management or software engineering background helpful.

What is a systems engineer?

Systems engineering is a multidisciplinary area of work that combines IT engineering with engineering management, centred around the design, implementation and maintenance of systems and processes throughout their life cycles. It can include everything from control engineering to security system engineering, meaning there are many ways to follow this career path.

The systems engineer is vital within a business because they define the needs of multiple stakeholders when a product or service is at the beginning of its development cycle. These experts often organise several teams, acting as the communications hub between each of them.

What does a systems engineer do?

A systems engineer is the bridge between several stakeholders, across multiple projects. To put it simply, they oversee the engineering and management of the process, ensuring everything is working as it should. This field stretches across many industries, meaning there are plenty of opportunities where possessing the ability to gain specific security clearances is not just preferable, but mandatory for the job.

Moreover, they look at things with a much wider lens than other professionals involved, such as a network engineer or data engineer. Instead of just the engineering components of a project, the systems engineer has to consider wider aspects, including scheduling, costs and scalability.

To function effectively, a systems engineer needs access to company information and, in many areas, this means individuals with security clearances are much more attractive to employers. In fact, a systems engineer salary can be significantly boosted when an individual has gained a security clearance.

What are the duties and responsibilities of a systems engineer?

Every business has unique needs and requirements for success - especially when it comes to computer systems. Engineers provide expert recommendations for the most appropriate solutions, whether hardware or software, to make sure their clients can meet their goals. As such, the list of duties these computer systems engineering professionals are required to carry out can be very extensive. Some of the key responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Monitoring and managing all systems and infrastructure
  • Proactively seeking the highest level of systems and infrastructure availability
  • Installing, routinely testing and upholding operating systems, software and system management tools
  • Producing and maintaining thorough security, backup and redundancy plans
  • Creating and revising scripts to facilitate system efficiency and lower the amount of human intervention time required for tasks
  • Ensuring the systems engineering process runs smoothly

How do you become a systems engineer?

Systems engineering is a demanding but rewarding profession. It requires a solid understanding of both engineering and business principles and, as such, you’ll need a strong academic background as well as practical experience to progress to more senior positions.

What are the skills required to be a systems engineer?

Systems engineering is a challenging field that demands a wide variety of both hard and soft skills. In terms of the technical proficiencies you’ll need for this position, the requirements can differ between industries. However, you’ll always need to have a comprehensive understanding of computer engineering and it helps to have strong knowledge of software development, as almost all systems engineers work with computer systems.

Additionally, because engineers bridge the gap between customers, suppliers, management and other staff, you can benefit greatly from demonstrating solid project management skills. Other competencies employers look out for include:

  • Scripting
  • Networking
  • Data architecture
  • Programming
  • Information security
  • Data science

As for the soft skills that are most useful for systems engineers, the list is quite extensive. These engineers need to solve problems, whilst also predicting outcomes, so the ability to see things from a broader perspective is invaluable. Other capabilities that make a good engineer are:

  • Excellent communication
  • Exceptional organisation
  • Time management
  • An analytical and curious approach to problem-solving
  • The ability to see ‘the bigger picture’
  • Project management

What education do you need as a systems engineer?

Before you think about getting a security clearance to become a security engineer, software engineer or any other type of systems engineer, you need to be aware of the fundamental educational requirements. They will put you on the right career path towards a systems engineer job.

Bachelor’s degree

Anyone looking to start a career as a systems engineer should think about taking a relevant course at a university - preferably systems or industrial engineering. To access these degrees, you’ll usually need to have three A-levels, although a foundation degree may only require two.

You can still become a systems engineer without a university degree and choose to take an apprenticeship instead, although it’s highly recommended to choose the former route as experts with a university degree often receive greater compensation packages.

Master’s degree

To become a senior systems engineer, it’s not always enough to just have an accredited bachelor’s degree. Due to the complexity of the job, companies often prefer those with a deeper demonstrable understanding of both technical and theoretical aspects of engineering. Therefore, holding a master’s degree in systems engineering significantly increases your chances of landing a senior or managerial position in the field.

Can work experience help you become a systems engineer?

If you thought achieving two degrees in a field as challenging as systems engineering wasn’t difficult enough, you’ll certainly need to get some work experience to be considered a strong candidate for the job. While you’re completing your undergraduate degree, look out for any opportunities to gain invaluable, practical experience.

Some universities offer students the chance to intern at tech companies, providing a platform to learn much more about the profession than you might from sitting in a lecture theatre. Be on the lookout for any opportunities in areas such as information technology, systems architecture and integration.

If you do manage to secure work experience, it’ll also be the best time to explore different areas of systems engineering, meaning you’ll learn what types of systems you want to work with. The systems engineering process has similarities across disciplines, but understanding the nuances of a specialty will help you in the long run.

What can you earn as a systems engineer?

The salary of a systems engineer will depend on factors like the organisation they work for, the amount of experience they have, the location of the job and their qualifications. For entry-level engineers with little experience, there will be considerably less compensation compared to professionals with years on the job. Data from ONS shows the average systems engineer salary in the UK to be just under £42,000 per year, with the figure ranging from roughly £33,500 to £63,000 depending on experience.

It’s worth noting that systems engineers with a university degree generally earn more money than those who enter the profession via apprenticeships. Additionally, focusing on a specific area can also yield a higher salary. For example, those who specialise in computer systems boast greater expertise in that niche than general systems engineers and can therefore receive more valuable compensation packages.

A computer systems engineer can work their way up to a systems architect role if they continually develop their skills. Such senior positions typically come with higher salaries. There are also a wide variety of certifications you can obtain, demonstrating to potential employers that you are highly skilled and capable of performing well in the role. Some highly reputable options include:

  • Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer
  • Master Certified Electronics Technician
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate
  • Certified Systems Engineering Professional
  • CompTIA Network+

Systems engineer jobs in the United Kingdom

Systems engineering is a highly sought-after career within the IT sector, but also in many other areas including defence, finance and construction, to name a few. This means that employers will often need help in filling these positions. For professionals with the right set of skills, experience and personal attributes, there’s never been a better time to look for security cleared systems engineer jobs.

Many of these roles are available within the United Kingdom, although a systems engineer with a desire for a new challenge may wish to look further afield. Equivalent positions in the United States could represent an interesting rung on the career ladder.

How can you find security cleared systems engineer jobs?

Systems engineers are highly sought-after, but that doesn’t mean you’ll just stumble into a job. The demands of the role, in terms of skills and experience, mean that recruiters are looking for specific candidates to bring forward. As such, it’s paramount that you’re putting your information in the right place.

The best way to find security cleared systems engineer jobs is by heading to a specialised job board, like SecurityClearedJobs.com. Just by uploading your CV, recruiters can view your credentials and reach out to you. Similarly, you’ll be able to search for opportunities at some of the UK’s largest employers.

Browse our latest security cleared systems engineer jobs today to find your perfect role.