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Become A Principal Systems Engineer

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Working As A Principal Systems Engineer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Getting Information
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $111,797

    Average Salary

What Does A Principal Systems Engineer Do

Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or that control networks.

Duties

Software developers typically do the following:

  • Analyze users’ needs and then design, test, and develop software to meet those needs
  • Recommend software upgrades for customers’ existing programs and systems
  • Design each piece of an application or a system and plan how the pieces will work together
  • Create a variety of models and diagrams (such as flowcharts) that instruct programmers how to write software code
  • Ensure that a program continues to function normally through software maintenance and testing
  • Document every aspect of an application or a system as a reference for future maintenance and upgrades
  • Collaborate with other computer specialists to create optimum software

Software developers are in charge of the entire development process for a software program. They may begin by asking how the customer plans to use the software. They must identify the core functionality that users need from software programs. Software developers must also determine user requirements that are unrelated to the functionality of software, such as the level of security and performance needs. They design the program and then give instructions to programmers, who write computer code and test it.

If the program does not work as expected or if testers find it too difficult to use, software developers go back to the design process to fix the problems or improve the program. After the program is released to the customer, a developer may perform upgrades and maintenance.

Developers usually work closely with computer programmers. However, in some companies, developers write code themselves instead of giving instructions to the programmers.

Developers who supervise a software project from the planning stages through implementation sometimes are called information technology (IT) project managers. These workers monitor the project’s progress to ensure that it meets deadlines, standards, and cost targets. IT project managers who plan and direct an organization’s IT department or IT policies are included in the profile on computer and information systems managers.

The following are examples of types of software developers:

Applications software developers design computer applications, such as word processors and games, for consumers. They may create custom software for a specific customer or commercial software to be sold to the general public. Some applications software developers create complex databases for organizations. They also create programs that people use over the Internet and within a company’s intranet.

Systems software developers create the systems that keep computers functioning properly. These could be operating systems for computers that the general public buys or systems built specifically for an organization. Often, systems software developers also build the system’s interface, which is what allows users to interact with the computer. Systems software developers are creating the operating systems that control most of the consumer electronics in use today, including the systems in phones or cars.

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How To Become A Principal Systems Engineer

Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree in computer science and strong computer programming skills.

Education

Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree, typically in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. A degree in mathematics is also acceptable. Computer science degree programs are the most common, because they tend to cover a broad range of topics. Students should focus on classes related to building software in order to better prepare themselves for work in the occupation. For some positions, employers may prefer a master’s degree.

Although writing code is not their first priority, developers must have a strong background in computer programming. They usually gain this experience in school. Throughout their career, developers must keep up to date on new tools and computer languages.

Software developers also need skills related to the industry in which they work. Developers working in a bank, for example, should have knowledge of finance so that they can understand a bank’s computing needs.

Other Experience

Many students gain experience in software development by completing an internship at a software company while in college.

Some software developers first work as computer programmers and then are given more responsibility as they gain experience. Eventually, they become developers.

Advancement

Software developers can advance to become information technology (IT) project managers, also called computer and information systems managers, a position in which they oversee the software development process.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Developers must analyze users’ needs and then design software to meet those needs.

Communication skills. Developers must be able to give clear instructions to others working on a project. They must also explain to their customers how the software works and answer any questions that arise.

Computer skills. Developers must understand computer capabilities and programming languages in order to design effective software.

Creativity. Developers are the creative minds behind new computer software.

Detail oriented. Developers often work on many parts of an application or system at the same time and must therefore be able to concentrate and pay attention to detail.

Interpersonal skills. Software developers must be able to work well with others who contribute to designing, developing, and programming successful software.

Problem-solving skills. Because developers are in charge of software from beginning to end, they must be able to solve problems that arise throughout the design process.

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Principal Systems Engineer jobs

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Principal Systems Engineer Career Paths

Principal Systems Engineer
Technical Project Manager Senior Information Technology Manager Senior System Administrator
Data Center Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Manager, Systems Engineering Senior Manager Director Of Information
Director Information Technology Infrastructure
13 Yearsyrs
Engineering Manager Program Manager Senior Manager
Director Of Information
10 Yearsyrs
Technical Consultant Network Administrator Director Of Information
Director Of Information Technology Services
12 Yearsyrs
Manager, Systems Engineering Project Manager Director Of Information
Director Of Infrastructure Operations
13 Yearsyrs
Systems Architect Solutions Architect Program Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Senior Project Manager Principal Consultant Senior Manager
Information Technology Director
10 Yearsyrs
Technical Account Manager Product Manager Information Technology Project Manager
Information Technology Infrastructure Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Technical Consultant Senior Consultant Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Systems Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Manager Controller Information Technology Manager
Infrastructure Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Program Manager General Manager Account Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Engineering Manager Operations Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Technical Account Manager Program Manager Engineering Director
Senior Director Of Engineering
15 Yearsyrs
Systems Administrator Information Technology Manager Director Of Information
Senior Director Of Information & Technology
13 Yearsyrs
Systems Architect Project Manager Information Technology Project Manager
Senior Information Technology Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Information Technology Project Manager
Senior Project Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Systems Administrator Engineer Engineering Manager
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Senior Project Manager Senior Product Manager Senior Manager
Vice President Of Information Technology
12 Yearsyrs
Chief Systems Engineer Chief Engineer Vice President Of Engineering
Vice President Of Software Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Senior Manager Development Director Director Of Software Development
Vice President, Software Development
11 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Principal Engineer 4.7 years
Staff Engineer 4.3 years
Senior Engineer 4.3 years
Team Lead Engineer 3.4 years
Lead Engineer 3.4 years
Advanced Engineer 3.3 years
Systems Engineer 3.2 years
Engineer 3.2 years
Top Employers Before
Engineer 3.9%
Consultant 3.3%
Top Employers After
Consultant 5.4%
Principal 2.8%
Manager 2.6%
Engineer 1.9%

Principal Systems Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

85.2%

Female

10.3%

Unknown

4.5%
Ethnicity

White

75.8%

Asian

12.4%

Hispanic or Latino

8.1%

Unknown

2.8%

Black or African American

0.9%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

35.0%

Carrier

17.5%

Portuguese

5.0%

Chinese

5.0%

German

5.0%

French

5.0%

Russian

5.0%

Swedish

2.5%

Romanian

2.5%

Cantonese

2.5%

Japanese

2.5%

Gujarati

2.5%

Dari

2.5%

Hindi

2.5%

Mandarin

2.5%

Italian

2.5%
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Principal Systems Engineer Education

Schools

George Washington University

9.2%

University of Maryland - University College

8.0%

Johns Hopkins University

8.0%

University of Phoenix

7.7%

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

5.4%

University of Arizona

5.4%

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

5.0%

Arizona State University

4.6%

University of Maryland - College Park

4.6%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

4.6%

Northeastern University

4.6%

Pennsylvania State University

4.2%

University of South Florida

3.8%

University of California - Los Angeles

3.8%

Strayer University

3.8%

University of Southern California

3.8%

George Mason University

3.4%

Southern Methodist University

3.4%

Purdue University

3.4%

Stanford University

3.1%
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Majors

Electrical Engineering

26.4%

Computer Science

12.4%

Business

9.2%

Computer Information Systems

5.5%

Physics

5.5%

Systems Engineering

5.0%

Computer Engineering

4.9%

Mechanical Engineering

4.9%

Engineering

3.9%

Information Technology

3.5%

Management

2.8%

Mathematics

2.7%

Aerospace Engineering

2.1%

Engineering And Industrial Management

2.0%

Project Management

1.8%

Information Systems

1.7%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.6%

Education

1.5%

Computer Networking

1.5%

Management Information Systems

1.1%
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Degrees

Masters

39.9%

Bachelors

33.0%

Other

11.1%

Doctorate

10.1%

Certificate

2.8%

Associate

2.6%

Diploma

0.3%

License

0.1%
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Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Principal Systems Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Principal System Architecture Engineer Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. San Diego, CA Aug 26, 2015 $205,000
Principal Systems Engineer/Manager/QCT Architecture Qualcomm Technologies Inc. San Diego, CA Sep 01, 2015 $192,109 -
$217,700
Principal Systems Engineer Palo Alto Networks, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Dec 19, 2016 $186,000
Principal Systems Engineer Collective Media, Inc. New York, NY Sep 20, 2015 $185,000
Principal Systems Engineer/Chipset Power Qualcomm Technologies Inc. San Diego, CA Apr 27, 2015 $176,946 -
$211,300
Principal Systems and Control Engineer Cameron LNG, LLC Houston, TX Sep 05, 2015 $160,000
Principal System Engineer CSRA, LLC Baltimore, MD May 10, 2016 $160,000
Principal Systems and Control Engineer Cameron LNG, LLC Hackberry, LA Sep 05, 2015 $160,000
Principal Systems Engineer Cypress Semiconductor Corporation San Jose, CA Jul 19, 2016 $160,000
Senior Principal Systems Engineer Tintri, Inc. Mountain View, CA Aug 30, 2016 $159,370
Senior Principal Systems Engineer Tintri, Inc. Mountain View, CA Jan 19, 2016 $159,370
Principal Systems Engineer Cypress Semiconductor Corporation San Jose, CA Nov 30, 2015 $157,477 -
$160,000
Principal Systems Engineer A10 Networks, Inc. (Formerly Raksha Networks, Inc.) San Jose, CA Mar 24, 2016 $155,000
Principal Systems Engineer The Gap, Inc. San Francisco, CA Dec 20, 2015 $138,445 -
$178,000
Principal Systems Engineer Advanced Bionics LLC Santa Clarita, CA Sep 19, 2016 $137,700
Principal Engineer Systems Architecture Micro Systems Engineering, Inc. Lake Oswego, OR Jan 09, 2016 $137,048
Principal Systems Engineer F5 Networks, Inc. Seattle, WA Sep 20, 2015 $135,719
Principal Systems Engineer EMC Corporation Bellevue, WA Jan 08, 2016 $135,366 -
$194,950
Principal Engineer Systems Architecture Micro Systems Engineering, Inc. Lake Oswego, OR Nov 25, 2015 $133,614 -
$145,614
Principal Systems Engineer-Platform Lead .02) Thales Avionics, Inc. Irvine, CA Feb 06, 2016 $132,486
Principal Engineer, Systems CSR Technology Inc. Santa Ana, CA Sep 01, 2015 $132,288 -
$175,000
Principal Engineer-Instrumentation & Protective Systems BP America Inc. Naperville, IL Aug 25, 2016 $114,000 -
$118,000
Principal Systems Engineer Arris Solutions, Inc. Beaverton, OR Mar 27, 2015 $113,666 -
$123,666
Principal Systems Engineer Arris Enterprises, Inc. Beaverton, OR Mar 27, 2015 $113,665 -
$123,665
SR. Principal Systems Engineer Boehringer Ingelheim USA Corporation Ridgefield, CT Jan 02, 2015 $113,020 -
$143,000
Principal Corporate Systems Engineer EMC Corporation Hopkinton, MA Jun 22, 2016 $112,000 -
$155,250
Principal Corporate Systems Engineer EMC Corporation Hopkinton, MA Nov 30, 2016 $112,000 -
$155,250
Principal Systems Engineer Informatica Corporation Redwood City, CA Jun 11, 2015 $110,365 -
$138,300

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Top Skills for A Principal Systems Engineer

SystemsEngineeringSystemArchitectureProposalHardwareLabInfrastructureWindowsServerDODMissileConceptStorageRadarRaytheonLinuxDoorsSystemRequirementsSoftwareDevelopmentSystemIntegrationProjectManagementSystemDesign

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Top Principal Systems Engineer Skills

  1. Systems Engineering
  2. System Architecture
  3. Proposal
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Perform general system characterization, performance testing and troubleshooting as a member of Systems Engineering group.
  • Provided innovative design of system architecture to save operational cost of major processing and storage of remote sensed data.
  • Contributed to the technical solutions articulated in proposal documents for major engineering service contracts/subcontracts in the QinetiQ San Diego Business Unit.
  • Coordinated US engineering sales support for a hardware token solution using either synchronous or asynchronous two-factor authentication providing strong network security.
  • Identified various security vulnerabilities and responded to security alerts and took necessary actions to ensure system and network integrity and availability.

Top Principal Systems Engineer Employers

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