How to become a senior systems engineer: Ben's story

Meet Ben and find out about his life as a senior systems engineer at Shop Direct. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

I’m coding, I’m interacting with amazing people on a day-to-day basis. The job satisfaction here is phenomenal.

  • Ben writes code for some of the apps that people use to shop on their mobile phones
  • A typical day for Ben starts with a stand-up meeting with the rest of his team - where they catch up on what they've all been doing. After that Ben will work on ‘tickets’ that have been assigned to him. These are usually jobs that involve finding solutions, by writing a piece of code or fixing a particular app feature
  • Ben studied Computer Games Programming at university. He had various other IT-related jobs before being headhunted for his current role
  • As well as Computer Science and ICT at school, Ben found Theatre Studies and Drama a really big help. He says they showed him how to communicate with people and build confidence in himself. He also wasn’t very good at maths – but he got around that by learning how to code and understanding thoroughly how computers worked
  • Ben’s advice for getting into his industry is to always be learning, to always have side projects you’re working on. That way you will have a portfolio of things you’ve created that you can show to future employers.

Software developers are similar to software engineers and systems engineers - they design, build and test computer programmes.

What to expect if you want to be a senior systems engineer

  • Software developer salary: £20,000 to £70,000 per year
  • Software developer working hours: 37 to 40 hours per week. You may work evenings and weekends.

What qualifications do you need to be a senior systems engineer?

  • Typical entry requirements You'll usually need one or two A-levels (or equivalent) for a foundation degree or a higher national diploma and two to three A-levels (or equivalent) for a degree in related subjects like Computer Science, Information Technology, Software Development, Financial Technology, Software Engineering for Business, and Maths.
    You could also get into this job through an apprenticeship with four or five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and Maths.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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