Job description

Systems software developers plan, design, develop and test the operating systems of electronics such as computers, cell phones and cars. They design and implement the mechanics and technicalities behind a system, and ensure electronics continue to function through maintenance and testing.


    • Plan, design and develop operating systems according to user’s needs
    • Run and test operating systems to ensure they’re functioning properly
    • Fix, modify or improve existing operating systems
    • Consult with customers and recommend system upgrades
    • Create models and diagrams to plan and map out operating systems
    • Direct software programming
    • Develop documentation for building a system
    • Work alongside designers, programmers and other developers
    • Monitor a project’s progress to ensure it meets deadlines and requirements

Skills and qualities

Attention to detail

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2018 to 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 5%.


New jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2018 and 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.


Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.


Career progression

Systems software developers generally advance to becoming IT project managers. With the right skills, knowledge and education, they can even change career direction and focus on developing computer applications, instead.

Working conditions

Average hours

40h/ week

Typical schedule

Full Time

Extra hours occasionally needed

Systems software developers typically work in office-based environments or in computer laboratories. Their job mainly requires sitting by a computer most of the day, which makes professionals susceptible to eyestrain or backaches.

Developers generally work in teams with designers, programmers and other developers when planning and creating system software. They may also travel to client locations to test, modify or fix their operating systems.


Bottom 10%




Top 10%


Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level


Bachelor’s degree in computer science

Study time

4 years

Although some employers prefer applicants with a postgraduate education, systems software developers generally require a Bachelor of Computer Science (BCompSc) or a similar degree in a related field such as software engineering. Employers also prefer applicants who have participated in a software development internship at a software company. This is generally achieved while in college.

Aspiring systems software developers should prove adequate computer programming skills and stay current with new tools and programming languages throughout their careers. These professionals should also develop skills and knowledge for the industry they work in so that they can understand how to handle their particular systems and software.

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Perfect career wave

Search for jobs

Find systems software developer vacancies near you