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Systems Engineering Major

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Systems Engineering

2,020 Master's Degrees Annually
114 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#69 in Popularity (Master's)
$113,680 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Systems Engineering Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many systems engineering graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 2,020
Graduate Certificate 505
Doctor’s Degree 114

What Systems Engineering Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to systems engineering and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Systems Engineering Majors

Systems Engineering majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

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  • 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.
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Skills for Systems Engineering Majors

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to systems engineering:

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  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Abilities for Systems Engineering Majors

Systems Engineering majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

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  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

What Can You Do With a Systems Engineering Major?

People with a systems engineering degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Architectural and Engineering Managers 5.5% $140,760
Energy Engineers 6.4% $96,980
Engineering Professors 14.7% $101,720
Manufacturing Engineers 6.4% $96,980
Mechatronics Engineers 6.4% $96,980
Solar Energy Systems Engineers 6.4% $96,980
Wind Energy Engineers 6.4% $96,980

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Systems Engineering?

2,020 Master's Degrees Annually
24% Percent Women
22% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This major tends to be male dominated. About 76% of recent graduates are men.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of systems engineering majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Systems Engineering Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 150
Black or African American 91
Hispanic or Latino 158
White 892
International Students 504
Other Races/Ethnicities 225

Geographic Diversity

Systems Engineering appeals to people across the globe. About 25.0% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • India
  • China
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Iran
  • Mexico

How Much Do Systems Engineering Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

The U.S. Department of Education found that students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a master’s degree in systems engineering made a median starting salary of $94,700 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $91,300 (25th percentile) and $97,100 (75th percentile).

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We don’t know for sure if all of these people took jobs related to systems engineering so take that into consideration.

Salaries According to BLS

Systems Engineering majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $99,410 to $148,970 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Systems Engineering Major  ( 99410 to 148970 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some degrees associated with systems engineering may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

Find out what the typical degree level is for systems engineering careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 0.5%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 1.9%
Some College Courses 2.7%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 3.7%
Bachelor’s Degree 62.1%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 5.9%
Master’s Degree 11.9%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 1.5%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 1.6%
Doctoral Degree 6.3%
Post-Doctoral Training 1.5%

Online Systems Engineering Programs

In 2018-2019, 109 schools offered a systems engineering program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 5 1
Certificate (1-2 years) 1 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 1 0
Associate’s Degree 0 0
Bachelor’s Degree 35 17
Post-Baccalaureate 5 1
Master’s Degree 78 31
Post-Master’s 8 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 31 3
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Systems Engineering Worth It?

The median salary for a systems engineering grad is $113,680 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 185% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,475,600 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to systems engineering.

Major Number of Grads
Electrical Engineering 12,934
Mechanical Engineering 9,668
Civil Engineering 6,961
Computer Engineering 5,021
Biomedical Engineering 4,057
General Engineering 3,449
Industrial Engineering 3,359
Chemical Engineering 2,897
Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering 2,163
Materials Engineering 1,863
Other Engineering 1,859
Operations Research 1,273
Environmental Engineering 1,117
Petroleum Engineering 537
Engineering Science 451
Nuclear Engineering 440
Manufacturing Engineering 412
Agricultural Engineering 338
Robotics Engineering 333
Construction Engineering 312
Engineering Physics 282
Architectural Engineering 247
Polymer & Plastics Engineering 205
Geoscience Engineering 176
Engineering Mechanics 168
Ocean Engineering 154
Mining Engineering 142
Textile Engineering 106
Biological Engineering 63
Metallurgical Engineering 51
Marine Engineering 48
Ceramic Engineering 30
Surveying Engineering 21
Electromechanical Engineering 17
Paper Science & Engineering 9
Biochemical Engineering 6
Forest Engineering 0

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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