In determining the best job, the study looked at positions that will achieve growth in demand by 10 percent or more over the next decade, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates. Focus excluded positions that did not require at least a bachelor's degree and two-to-seven years of experience. Focus also eliminated jobs that did poorly during the recession.
According to the study, a systems engineer works in the information technology sector with pay ranging from $87,100 to $130,000 a year. Focus provides some of the study's results in a chart here.
Systems engineers may have cause for cheer, based on the study's results. However, it's not exactly clear what they do.
"We actually made no effort to define systems engineer," stated Brian Provost, Focus' vice president of audience development, in an e-mail. "The data was pulled from analysis published by external sources like Payscale.com, CNN/Money Magazine, the BLS and then packaged into our infographic. It was our intent only to merge all those signals into one, easily consumed piece of content for the end user."
The role of a systems engineer is subject to debate. A University of Arizona definition describes a systems engineer as someone who oversees the customer's needs over a system's lifecycle. Wikipedia defines systems engineering in terms of design and project management. One of Focus' sources, CNN/Money, defines systems engineers as "big think managers on complex projects."
Microsoft, in its description, defines a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer as someone "skilled in designing, implementing, and administering infrastructures for business solutions based on Microsoft 2000 Windows Server and other Windows server platforms. Implementation responsibilities include installing, configuring, and troubleshooting network systems."
"We are aware that systems engineer is a pretty broad umbrella," Provost noted.
Focus narrowed the study's results down to the top 10 jobs by interviewing industry experts and people on the job. The top 50 jobs included in the survey were selected based on "quality of life factors such as flexibility, stress and personal satisfaction."
Other IT jobs that made it into the top 20, according to Focus, included IT project manager ($98,700 to $140,000), computer/network security consultant ($99,700 to $152,000), software developer ($79,400 to $116,000) and software product manager ($106,000 to $148,000).
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