Computer systems engineers are responsible for designing, testing, building and analyzing the computer systems in a company. They also do a lot of work with computer programs and often write and test software code. If you want to become a computer systems engineer, you will need a combination of education and experience that usually involves a college degree, industry certifications and hands-on training. In addition, the ability to work well in a fast-paced environment is specifically important because an engineer's job requires many different tasks throughout the day.
A bachelor's degree focusing on computer engineering or software engineering is useful in preparing you to become a computer systems engineer, although a four-year degree is not always required for entry-level positions. Other majors that focus on a broad area of information technology also can help you get a job in the field. Important courses to take include programming, software design, systems analysis, advanced mathematics and network design. Overall, the degree path that you choose can help you discover the area of computer systems engineering that best fits your interests.
Industry certifications are useful if you want to become a computer systems engineer who focuses on a specific vendor. Many certification vendors prefer that you have work experience before taking the exam, but classes are available that can help you get the experience you need while earning a certification. Certifications often focus on servers and networks, and they cover the process from designing a new system to maintaining an existing system. Online training and study guides are available if you want to study for a certification without taking more college classes.
Although a college degree and certifications are helpful, hands-on training is critical in the computer engineering field. Many jobs require a specific amount of experience for positions, so you should try to find an internship to become a computer systems engineer. Although some colleges include internships as part of the degree program, you can find opportunities even after you graduate. Online sites that focus on technology jobs sometimes have a filter that lets you search for internships and entry-level positions.
To become a computer systems engineer requires a unique person who has excellent problem-solving skills and works well under pressure, including time restrictions. Each day brings new challenges as companies add new computer systems or upgrade existing ones. As an engineer, you will have to adapt to new technology quickly to catch up with all of the changes and to creatively work through any potential issues that arise.