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How do I become a Systems Engineer?

You’ve seen the headline.

There are currently 27,000 open Systems Engineering roles in the UK.

It’s no surprise that Systems Engineers are in hot demand. There’s not enough Systems Engineers to fill all the roles!

And it’s only going to get worse. We can’t produce engineers fast enough.

Good news for you, if you’re looking for a role.

So, how do you become a Systems Engineer?

How do I become a systems engineer or How do I get a job as a Systems Engineer?

There are three main routes that get you a role:

  1. Go to university

  2. Do an apprenticeship

  3. Retrain

Route 1 - Become a Systems Engineer by going to University

Most employers are now hiring entry level systems engineering roles straight out of University.

The simple answer to this question is to go to University and study a Science, Tech, Engineering or Maths degree. Once complete, find and apply for a graduate role at a large employer.

This is a simple answer, but not easy obviously! It takes 3-5 years to study a STEM subject as well as a lot of commitment to pass the degree and associated exams. Not to mention the amount of debt to get there.

However, if you think it’s the right route for you and end up securing that degree, then showing the employer some aptitude of engineering, meet

most of the prerequisites such as right to work and maybe security clearance, then you ‘should’ be pretty much guaranteed a Systems Engineering role (in the current market).

Route 2 - Become a Systems Engineer by doing an Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships in the U.K are a hot topic.

Why are apprenticeships in the U.K becoming the most important education route?

It’s a free ride. A free ticket to the big bucks. It’s taking school leavers and turning them into engineers without the student debt.

Large prime engineering companies such as Rolls Royce, BAE Systems, Babcock etc. hire a school leaver, put them to college and university to train as an engineer, then pick up the bill.

Oh, and they PAY YOU to do it too!

It’s awesome and a good mechanism to address the STEM shortage in the U.K.

BUT, we aren’t doing it in high enough volume.

If this seems like the right fit for you, check out what a Systems Engineering apprenticeship looks like at one of the best institutes in the U.K.

If you’re ready to pull the trigger, research the em

ployers offering systems engineering apprenticeships and apply!

Route 3 - Become a Systems Engineer by Retraining

The final route to becoming an SE is to retrain.

If you’re from a STEM background (software engineer, mathematician, physicist, scientist, mechanical engineer / electrical engineer / engineer of some sort, technologist of some sort), it will be relatively simple for you to retrain as a systems engineer.

Why? You probably have the right sort of brain.

Systems Engineering is about using your brain to holistically consider the system of interest as well as interconnected relationships and entities associated with that system.

If you’ve made it that far in your career mentioned above, you’re probably best placed to retrain into a systems engineer.

More importantly, you’ll likely be an expert systems engineer in X (your previously chosen discipline).

The process of retrain would involve:

  1. Identifying a particular role you like

  2. Identify the key skills associated with it

  3. Find courses that can train you in that skill

  4. Expand your knowledge by doing other training

  5. Certify your ability by sitting an INCOSE certification / pursue chartership.

One of the best places to find Systems Engineering jobs are on LinkedIn. By researching the open roles OR better yet, connecting with a recruiter at your intended organisation and ask for more information.

Alternatively, The School of Systems Engineering has a professional development platform covering everything from:

  • Introduction to Systems Engineering

  • Applied Systems Engineering Nanodegree

  • Route to INCOSE Certifications

  • A jobs portal to explore the latest jobs

  • Systems Engineering for Recruiters courses

  • Ultimate guides on how to get hired

  • Mentors to support you on your journey

Check out our Free Introduction to Systems Engineering course here


Read our Ultimate Guide on how to Get hired as a Systems Engineer here.

Good luck!

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