Senior Systems Engineer Salary
Job Description for Senior Systems Engineer
The senior systems engineer tends to involve more design and build-out work than an standard systems administrator position. While both jobs contain responsibilities for day-to-day administration and upkeep of servers and storage, a senior systems engineer will also have been the one who original designed the solution; this can range anywhere from choosing a server platform to details related to processors, RAM and network cards.Read More...
In addition to general Windows/Linux servers, a senior systems engineer will generally have some type of specialty. Typical specialties include storage (with additional focus on particular vendors, with Netapp, Hitachi and EMC being the most common), virtualization (Vmware Vsphere first, Hyper-V second), or specific large-scale platforms. These large platform specialties, such as SAP or SaaS, tends to leave the job choices a bit more limited (whereas storage and virtualization tend to be more universal), but it also often leads to the more secure and higher-paying jobs.
The best senior systems engineers tend to have at least touched on multiple facets of the systems world. Ideally, a senior systems engineer in a Windows shop will have at least passing experience with Active Directory, Exchange, storage, virtualization, basic networking (ideally Cisco), at least one antivirus solution, and at least one enterprise backup solution. In a Linux or Unix Environment, the list is essentially the same, just replacing Active Directory with Samba/EDir and Exchange with something like Zimbra. Because of the fact that a senior systems engineer is designing platforms, instead of just maintaining them in an ongoing fashion, the broad experience ensures that they have the knowledge needed to come up with designs for new projects and platforms.
Senior Systems Engineer Tasks
- Oversee the planning, design and implementation of system engineering projects.
- May be responsible for designing a data contingency plan or data disaster recovery plan.
- Install, configure and upgrade and enhancements to software/hardware/network systems.
Common Career Paths for Senior Systems Engineer
Senior Systems Engineers may progress into high-paying roles like Principal Systems Engineer, where median compensation is $124K annually. Senior Systems Engineers go on to become Information Technology Managers more often than anything even though median pay for the role is $77K. Senior Systems Engineers who move into an Information Technology Architect role, another well-traveled path for those in this field, tend to find salaries of $110K.
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Popular Employer Salaries for Senior Systems Engineer
Leading companies who hire large numbers of Senior Systems Engineers include Lockheed Martin Corp, Raytheon Co., Northrop Grumman Corporation, Rockwell Collins, Inc., and Raytheon Missile Systems. For Senior Systems Engineers, comfortable salaries can be found at Booz, Allen, and Hamilton; in fact, average earnings are around $126K, the highest in the area, though the difference in the company's lowest and highest employee paychecks ($68K versus $142K) is great. Also paying near the top of the field are The Boeing Company at $119K, General Dynamics C4 Systems at $113K, and Northrop Grumman Corporation, where Senior Systems Engineers annually earn $112K.
General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems offers the lowest pay in the industry by far, with a median salary 70 percent less than the top paying company ($75K). Also approaching the lower end are Motorola, Inc. at $87K, BAE Systems Inc. at $90K, and Lockheed Martin Corp at $98K.
Popular Skills for Senior Systems Engineer
Senior Systems Engineers seem to exploit a large range of skills on the job. Most notably, skills in UNIX, Requirements Analysis, Project Management, and Linux are correlated to pay that is above average, with boosts between 3 percent and 6 percent. Skills that are correlated to lower pay, on the other hand, include Microsoft Active Directory, Microsoft SQL Server, and Windows Operating System General Use. Those familiar with Engineering Design also tend to know Requirements Analysis.
Pay by Experience Level for Senior Systems Engineer
Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.
Senior Systems Engineers with more experience do not necessarily bring home bigger paychecks. In fact, experience in this field tends to impact compensation minimally. During their first five years in the workforce, individuals in this position earn $89K on average. Survey participants with five to 10 years under their belts see an only a slightly bigger average of $96K. Professionals who spend a good 10 to 20 years in the workforce haul in an average of $105K. Senior Systems Engineers who have acquired more than two decades of experience generally do see greater compensation; their average income is approximately $118K.
Pay Difference by Location
With a pay rate for Senior Systems Engineers that is 26 percent greater than the national average, San Francisco offers a comfortable salary for those in this profession. Senior Systems Engineers can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Washington (+20 percent), Los Angeles (+8 percent), New York (+8 percent), and Seattle (+7 percent). Trailing the national average by 6 percent, Cedar Rapids is the market with the smallest paychecks. Not at the bottom but still paying below the median are employers in Atlanta and Tucson (5 percent lower and 4 percent lower, respectively).
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