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Computer Systems Engineers/Architects
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Description: what do they do?
Design and develop solutions to complex applications problems, system administration issues, or network concerns. Perform systems management and integration functions.
Also known as:
Research Systems Architect, Systems Consultant, Solution Architect, Information Technology Architect (IT Architect), Systems Engineer, Network Engineer, System Architect, Electronic Data Interchange System Developer (EDI System Developer), Network and Infrastructure Engineer, Architect

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from an O*NET database. Learn more on the Help page.

Career video
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    Transcript: Almost all organizations rely on efficiently organized computer networks to accomplish day-to-day business. Computer network architects design those networks, and computer systems engineers run them. Computer network architects create plans and layouts for data communication networks, ranging from building small connections between two offices to accessing the vast networking capabilities of cloud computing that connects customers around the globe. Network architects develop a deep understanding of a business’ plans in order to design networks to best suit their current and future needs. They analyze the organization’s data traffic, and work with chief technology officers and hardware engineers to predict future demand, and determine where to build new networks. Computer systems engineers implement the network architects’ designs, and solve the complex problems involved in the day-to-day operations of networks. They frequently test system operations, identify security risks, and research new products or processes that will improve system function. Network architects need to be effective leaders, and both roles require strong communication and teamwork skills. Work schedules are often more than 40 hours a week. Network architects and computer systems engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field, along with several years’ experience working with information technology systems. A master’s of business administration in information systems is needed for some network architect positions.
View transcript
Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are likely in the future.


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings" above. This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET’s Bright Outlook occupations. Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll only see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
United States
412,800
2018 Employment
455,000
2028 Employment
10%
Percent change
35,700
Annual projected job openings
You’re seeing projected employment information for Computer occupations, all other because we don’t have information for Computer Systems Engineers/Architects.

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2016 (for states) or 2018 (for the United States), the number expected to be employed in 2026 (for states) or 2028 (for the United States), and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions of unemployment rates and labor productivity growth rates.  While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central and each state's Labor Market Information office, 2016-26.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2018-28.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Computer Occupations, All Other* in United States
This graph displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
* You’re seeing wages for Computer Occupations, All Other because we don’t have information for Computer Systems Engineers/Architects.
This chart displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
LocationUnited States
10%$47,350
25%$66,410
Median$90,270
75%$117,070
90%$144,820


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    Also note that in this update, 21 detailed occupations found within the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) were replaced with 10 new aggregations of those occupations; read more about these OES changes.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Program, 2018 data. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

Education and experience: to get started
You’re seeing education information for Computer occupations, all other because we don’t have information for Computer Systems Engineers/Architects. Please note the information may not be the same for both occupations.

    What does this information tell me?

    This shows you the typical level of education, work experience, and on-the-job training that most people have when they start in this career. Note that these are not requirements for entering this field, but the information can help you understand how qualified you might be.

    Interested in starting in this career? You can search for education programs in your local area by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Education and training assignments by detailed occupation, 2018.

Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained
You’re seeing education information for Computer occupations, all other because we don’t have information for Computer Systems Engineers/Architects. Please note the information may not be the same for both occupations.

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Educational attainment for workers 25 years and older by detailed occupation, 2016–17.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find apprenticeship sponsors" you'll find information that can help you locate apprenticeship opportunities in your state:

    • If there are businesses that have sponsored apprenticeships in this field in the past, you'll find their name and contact information.
    • If there are related occupations that might have apprenticeship opportunities, you'll find links to that information.
    • You'll also see contact information for state and federal agencies that oversee apprenticeship programs.

    What is the source of this information?

    Apprenticeship information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeships, and from CareerOneStop. Learn more at Apprenticeship Finder Help.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Test computer system operations to ensure proper functioning.
  • Design integrated computer systems.
  • Collaborate with others to determine design specifications or details.
  • Coordinate project activities with other personnel or departments.
  • Identify information technology project resource requirements.
  • Conduct research to gain information about products or processes.
  • Recommend changes to improve computer or information systems.
  • Analyze security of systems, network, or data.
  • Provide technical support for software maintenance or use.
  • Document technical specifications or requirements.
  • Communicate project information to others.
  • Prepare analytical reports.
  • Develop organizational goals or objectives.
  • Monitor computer system performance to ensure proper operation.
  • Test computer hardware performance.
  • Test software performance.
  • Evaluate utility of software or hardware technologies.
  • Develop guidelines for system implementation.
  • Develop performance metrics or standards related to information technology.
  • Design computer modeling or simulation programs.
  • Develop models of information or communications systems.
  • Develop detailed project plans.
  • Design software applications.
  • Configure computer networks.
  • Manage information technology projects or system activities.
  • Install computer software.
  • Install computer hardware.
  • Maintain computer hardware.
  • Coordinate software or hardware installation.
  • Train others in computer interface or software use.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Critical Thinking - Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
  • Reading Comprehension - Reading work-related information.
  • Systems Evaluation - Measuring how well a system is working and how to improve it.
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
  • Systems Analysis - Figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it.
  • Writing - Writing things for co-workers or customers.
  • Active Learning - Figuring out how to use new ideas or things.
  • Speaking - Talking to others.
  • Operations Analysis - Figuring out what a product or service needs to be able to do.
  • Monitoring - Keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements.
  • Programming - Writing computer programs.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Problem Sensitivity - Noticing when problems happen.
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.
  • Written Comprehension - Reading and understanding what is written.
  • Written Expression - Communicating by writing.
  • Deductive Reasoning - Using rules to solve problems.
  • Inductive Reasoning - Making general rules or coming up with answers from lots of detailed information.
  • Originality - Creating new and original ideas.
  • Oral Expression - Communicating by speaking.
  • Information Ordering - Ordering or arranging things.
  • Near Vision - Seeing details up close.
  • Fluency of Ideas - Coming up with lots of ideas.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Conventional - Occupations related to Conventional interests frequently involve following set procedures and routines. They include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
  • Investigative - Occupations with Investigative interests frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. They often involve research and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Realistic - Occupations with Realistic interests frequently involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical tasks
  • Verify stability, interoperability, portability, security, or scalability of system architecture.
  • Develop system engineering, software engineering, system integration, or distributed system architectures.
  • Collaborate with engineers or software developers to select appropriate design solutions or ensure the compatibility of system components.
  • Communicate with staff or clients to understand specific system requirements.
  • Identify system data, hardware, or software components required to meet user needs.
  • Research, test, or verify proper functioning of software patches and fixes.
  • Provide advice on project costs, design concepts, or design changes.
  • Perform security analyses of developed or packaged software components.
  • Provide technical guidance or support for the development or troubleshooting of systems.
  • Document design specifications, installation instructions, and other system-related information.
  • Communicate project information through presentations, technical reports, or white papers.
  • Define and analyze objectives, scope, issues, or organizational impact of information systems.
  • Monitor system operation to detect potential problems.
  • Design and conduct hardware or software tests.
  • Evaluate current or emerging technologies to consider factors such as cost, portability, compatibility, or usability.
  • Provide customers or installation teams guidelines for implementing secure systems.
  • Establish functional or system standards to address operational requirements, quality requirements, and design constraints.
  • Investigate system component suitability for specified purposes and make recommendations regarding component use.
  • Complete models and simulations, using manual or automated tools, to analyze or predict system performance under different operating conditions.
  • Develop or approve project plans, schedules, or budgets.
  • Develop efficient and effective system controllers.
  • Evaluate existing systems to determine effectiveness and suggest changes to meet organizational requirements.
  • Configure servers to meet functional specifications.
  • Direct the analysis, development, and operation of complete computer systems.
  • Develop application-specific software.
  • Perform ongoing hardware and software maintenance operations, including installing or upgrading hardware or software.
  • Direct the installation of operating systems, network or application software, or computer or network hardware.
  • Train system users in system operation or maintenance.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.