Career advancement from SE│Examples of job titles and how to make a career plan


  • Advice for Engineers

SE (System Engineer) is an important job title that plays a fundamental role in the IT industry. Recently, technological innovations such as AI and IoT are progressing, and the opportunities for SEs are expanding more and more. In this environment, many people may be interested in further career advancement from SE.

Therefore, this article introduces job types in which career advancement is easy and specific ways to formulate a career plan for those who aim to advance their careers from SE. In the latter half of the article, we also include example sentences that you can use when you are asked about your career plan in an SE interview.

Why Career Planning is Important for SEs


Before introducing the SE career path, we will first explain why a career plan is important for SEs from the following four perspectives.

  • Because of the diversification of career options
  • Because early career development is important to realize career advancement
  • To achieve work-life balance
  • To choose a work style that suits you

Let's look at each one in detail.

Because of the diversity of career options

Careers as SEs are more diverse than ever. In the past, the typical career plan for SEs was "programmer -> SE -> project leader -> project manager".

However, with the evolution of information technology, new fields such as AI, IoT, VR, and AR, SEs are now able to work in an even wider range of fields. In this environment, planning a career path that fits your interests and skills as early as possible and acquiring the appropriate skills and knowledge is essential to building your future career.

Since early career development is important to achieve career advancement

There are a wide variety of career paths available as an SE, but planning early on for career advancement is critical. Without a clear career plan, you will not know which skills to hone.

Without a clear career plan, you will not know which skills to hone. In this situation, you will tend to be halfway through any one skill area, and by the time you find the career you want to pursue, it may be too late.

Depending on what kind of work you want to do in the future, the skills you need to acquire will vary from person to person, even for the same SE. Therefore, it is important to set your direction at a young age, clarify "what you should be doing now" and "what knowledge and skills you currently lack" toward that goal, and acquire the necessary skills proactively.

To achieve work-life balance

In the IT industry, working styles are diversifying, with flexible work schedules and remote work becoming more prevalent. Therefore, by considering your career plan in advance, you can achieve a work-life balance that suits you in the future.

In particular, many women take maternity leave for childbirth or childcare, so you also need to consider how you will be active after returning to the field.

By choosing a work style that suits your lifestyle and family situation, you can lead a less stressful and fulfilling life. To build a long-term, sustainable career, make a plan after considering the best way to work for you.

To choose the way of working that suits you best

SEs have different responsibilities depending on the company they work for, the skills and experience they can acquire, and even the type of job they are most likely to pursue. In fact, SEs have a wide range of career paths, including

  • AI Engineer
  • IoT Engineer
  • AR/VR Engineers
  • Infrastructure Engineers
  • Security Engineers
  • Data Scientist
  • IT Specialists
  • Project Manager (PM)
  • IT Consultants
  • IT Architect

With the birth of new technologies, the career paths for SEs have diversified, allowing them to choose the career path and work style that best suits them.

It is important for those who aim to advance their careers as SEs to have a clear understanding of the work content and work style of each type of job, and to draw up a career plan that suits them.

Examples of career paths that can be drawn from SE


Here are some examples of specific career paths that can be drawn from SE. Since the skills and experience required for each of these careers are different, please try to formulate the best career plan based on your own characteristics, interests, and future vision.

Become an independent freelancer

First, there is the case of working as an independent freelance SE. The number of people becoming independent freelancers has been increasing rapidly in recent years because they can choose their own work and working style, and can aim for high income depending on their skills.

This is the most attractive career path for those who want to work in an environment with a high degree of freedom, making the most of their accumulated experience as an SE.

However, working as a freelancer requires not only advanced skills and knowledge, but also communication and sales skills. No matter how skilled you are, if you cannot take on projects in the first place, you will not earn any income.

Therefore, if you plan to work as a freelancer, we recommend that you acquire communication and sales skills while working for a company before going independent.

Become an SE Specialist

Becoming an SE specialist is another career path. A specialist is an engineer with a high level of expertise in a particular field. For example, there are specialists in networking, databases, applications, security, and many other areas.

To become an SE specialist, it is important to have in-depth knowledge in a specific technical area and to master the specialty. In addition, because new technologies are constantly emerging in the IT industry, there is a possibility that the demand for the field you have mastered will disappear in the future. To be prepared for this risk, you must be willing to keep learning new technologies.

In recent years, the demand for specialists has been increasing year by year due to the rapid progress of IT technology, and it is easier to change jobs than in other occupations. Therefore, those who wish to work as a professional in a specific field should master the skills in that field to enhance their practical ability.

Career advancement to higher level positions

In some cases, SEs are able to use their experience and skills as SEs to advance their careers to higher positions. Higher-level positions have the advantages of higher income and greater job satisfaction than SEs, as they are often given more responsibility.

There are four main types of higher-level jobs that SEs can aim for.

  • PM (Project Manager)
  • IT Consultant
  • Infrastructure Engineer
  • Data Scientist

However, these positions are not for everyone; in addition to experience and skills as an SE, management skills, communication skills, and problem-solving skills are also essential. Therefore, if you are aiming for a higher-level position, you will need to acquire these skills systematically.

Change careers to a position that is in demand.

One option is to make a career change to a position that is expected to be in high demand in the future. For example, changing careers into the following fields is an easy way to utilize your SE experience and skills.

  • AI Engineer
  • Security Engineer
  • IoT Engineer
  • VR/AR Engineer

Since there are still very few people who can handle these advanced IT technologies, gaining experience now will broaden your future opportunities.

However, SE experience alone is not enough to advance to the above positions. For example, AI engineers are required to have knowledge of AI technologies such as machine learning and deep learning. Since the skills to be mastered differ depending on the type of job, it is important to prepare systematically.

Four types of jobs that are easy to advance your career from SE


There are four main types of jobs that can easily advance your career from SE

  • PM (Project Manager)
  • IT Specialist
  • IT Consultant
  • Data Scientist

Each of these will be explained one at a time.

PM (Project Manager)

As the person responsible for the overall project, a PM is responsible for preparing and managing the project execution, including project planning, defining requirements, securing budgets and personnel, managing schedules, and meeting with clients.

The number of people aiming to advance their careers to PM is increasing, as it is easy to utilize their wide range of experience and skills as SEs, and they can expect to earn a higher income. On the other hand, PMs are also required to have a high level of management skills to lead a team in a single direction.

The skills required of a PM are as follows

  • Project management and management skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Problem solving skills

If you are looking to advance your career to PM, plan to learn these skills as well.

IT Specialist

An IT Specialist is an engineer who performs work utilizing specialized knowledge and skills in a specific technical field. IT Skill Standards (ITSS) defined by the Information-technology Promotion Agency, Japan (IPA).

For those who wish to pursue a specific field or are sensitive to new technologies and constantly seek self-improvement, career advancement to IT Specialist is recommended.

However, to become an IT specialist, in addition to expertise and skills in a technical field, you must also possess communication skills, problem-solving skills, and the ability to think ethically. Therefore, you should be aware that these skills should also be acquired within your daily work.

In addition, acquiring certifications related to each field, such as the Database Specialist Exam or the Network Specialist Exam, will give you an advantage when changing jobs.

IT Consultant

IT consultants are professionals who use IT to solve client companies' business issues. It is one of the highest-paying engineering jobs and is a popular career path for many people seeking to advance their careers from SE or PM.

The skills required to become an IT consultant are as follows

  • Communication Skills
  • Project management and management skills
  • Ethical thinking skills
  • Problem solving skills

IT consultants must also have extensive knowledge of IT, as they are required to provide multifaceted advice and recommendations to meet the needs of their clients. It is also important to keep updating your skills to keep up with the latest technologies and trends.

Because IT consultants are responsible for the upstream processes of projects, the skills required of them are also very advanced. However, it is also very rewarding, making it an attractive position for those who want to work directly with clients.

Although not required, IT coordinator and small and medium business consultant certifications can increase the credibility of a company and its clients, so if you can afford it, you should acquire these certifications.

data scientist

Data scientists are specialists who analyze and analyze vast amounts of data to provide knowledge and information useful for business.

There is a movement to develop excellent human resources on a country-by-country basis, and the demand for data scientists is expected to increase further in the future.

Data scientists propose how the information obtained from data analysis can be applied to business, so not only analytical and statistical skills but also consulting skills are essential.

Those who wish to work as data scientists should master the following skills.

  • Programming skills
  • Analytical and statistical modeling skills
  • Communication skills
  • Consulting skills
  • Management skills

Certifications such as the Data Scientist Certificate, Information Technology Engineer Exam, and Oracle Master are also effective means of proving skills.

How to develop a career plan for SEs to advance their careers


The following section explains how SEs can develop a career plan to advance their careers.

1. Self-analysis

Start by analyzing yourself. Identify your skills, knowledge, experience, interests, concerns, strengths, weaknesses, past failures, successes, etc., and verbalize them in detail.

By doing so, you will be able to objectively evaluate your current situation, challenges, and possibilities, and you will be able to see "what you want to do" and "what you can aim for in the future.

Once you have determined your future direction, compare your current skills with the skills you need to achieve your career goals.

2. Set goals for the next 3, 5, and 10 years.

Next, based on the results of your self-analysis, set goals for "3 years from now," "5 years from now," and "10 years from now. The key is to make your goals specific and achievable. By setting specific goals, it will become clear what skills and knowledge you need to acquire in the future.

When setting goals, set specific goals such as "successfully complete XX project" or "acquire XX skills," rather than vague goals such as "become a senior SE" or "become a project leader. By setting specific goals, it will be easier to visualize the path to achieving them.

If there are too many skills lacking, it may be necessary to consider a different direction at this stage.

3. Make a plan to achieve the goal.

Once you have established your goals, develop a specific plan for achieving them. Your plan should include the time frame for achieving your goals, as well as the learning, skills, and experience required.

For example, it is important to consider "by when and how" you will learn the skills you need to acquire. In addition, if you wish to acquire a certification, you will need to study outside of work, so you must make a feasible plan while taking into account your personal time.

Thus, detailed planning will make it easier to take concrete actions to achieve your goals.

In addition, developing a career plan is not a one-time process that can be perfected. You must regularly revise your goals and plans to keep up with industry trends and technological advances. Be sure to brush up on your plan to ensure that you are always on the best path to achieving your goals.

How to answer when asked about career plans during an SE interview?


There are two main reasons why companies ask applicants about their career plans during SE interviews

  • To confirm that the applicant's career plan is consistent with the company's vision and growth strategy
  • To evaluate an applicant's willingness to learn and commitment to growth

Therefore, when asked about your career plan, it is important to convey how you will acquire the skills and experience to achieve the career you are aiming for, and how you would like to be active in the future.

The following is an example sentence for a case in which the career plan is to become an IT consultant.

<Example sentence
I hope to be an IT consultant in five years. Toward this goal, I would like to spend the first three years after joining the company building my technical foundation as an SE and gaining practical experience by participating in a wide range of projects.

Thereafter, as a project leader, he will thoroughly hone his project management skills, which are necessary for IT consultants. Furthermore, in order to acquire business-related knowledge, they will strive for self-learning through books and seminars.

In addition, in order to deepen their knowledge and skills in both IT and management, they will acquire IT coordinator certification, laying the groundwork for their future as IT consultants.

In the future, I would like to be the most trusted IT consultant for our clients by providing solutions to all kinds of corporate management issues from multiple perspectives.

Summary: If you want to advance your career as an SE, make a plan early.


This article has been designed to help those who are seeking career advancement from SE by providing information on the types of jobs that facilitate career advancement and how to formulate a specific career plan.

Although there are a wide variety of career paths as an SE, it is important to develop a career plan from an early stage and acquire the necessary skills and experience in order to achieve career advancement.

At United World Inc., our dedicated career advisors work closely with each individual to support their job search. After carefully listening to your detailed requirements and career plans, we will introduce you to the best job opportunities that suit you. We also provide advice on skill development and support for career planning, so please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

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