How to Become a Certified Systems Engineering Professional

how to become csep
As a certified systems engineering professional, you can pursue a rewarding career path full of fascinating challenges and opportunities to make an impact. Organizations rely on qualified systems engineers to guide their teams through development, design, and implementation for complex projects ranging from infrastructure to spacecraft. These experts must be able to solve problems and establish efficient processes by synthesizing concepts from multiple disciplines.

Related Content: Engineering Management vs. Systems Engineering: What’s the Difference?

Obtaining certification from the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) demonstrates that you have the necessary skills and education to excel in this growing field. With more than 17,000 members in over 35 countries, INCOSE is a professional organization dedicated to promoting the value of systems engineering approaches for a wide range of applications. The nonprofit’s objectives are to:

  • Serve as a central source of information about the discipline
  • Encourage global cooperation on projects and research
  • Advocate for support from governments and businesses
  • Set standards for best practices
  • Help professionals progress in their careers

INCOSE’s certification programs ensure that systems engineers meet the standards set in the organization’s mission and that they are familiar with the latest developments in the field. Anyone interested in starting or advancing in a systems engineering role should explore the requirements for these credentials and their potential benefits.


What is a CSEP Certification?

The most common INCOSE credential is the Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP), held by over 2,000 people. According to the organization, a CSEP should display the knowledge and experience to handle most tasks that are relevant to the discipline, including being ready to adapt to various industries and types of organizations. To qualify for this certification, you must:

CSEP Certification Requirements

  • Have a minimum of five years’ experience as a systems engineer, which may include work in areas like requirements engineering, system analysis, architecture development, systems integration, validation, technical planning and risk management
  • Hold an undergraduate or graduate degree in an engineering discipline (or substitute additional years of on-the-job experience)
  • Submit three references who are familiar with your work experience and knowledgeable about the systems engineering field
  • Pass a two-hour, multiple-choice exam based on material found in the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook

A CSEP credential is valid for three years. To renew, an engineer must submit documentation of a variety of professional development activities, such as participating in a technical society, completing further education, taking on a leadership role or publishing a book or article in the field

Systems engineering professionals can earn two other levels of INCOSE certification, depending on their job responsibilities and level of experience:

Associate Systems Engineering Professional

The Associate Systems Engineering Professional (ASEP) certification is intended for recent graduates and early-career professionals. These junior-level systems engineers have the technical knowledge necessary to pass the CSEP exam, but do not yet have sufficient experience in the discipline. An ASEP can go on to complete the rest of the application process for CSEP certification after working in the field for five years.

Expert Systems Engineering Professional

Certification as an Expert Systems Engineering Professional (ESEP) indicates that you have an advanced level of technical proficiency and extensive work experience. The 308 individuals holding this certification each have at least two decades of background in the field. They are leaders who provide crucial guidance to other systems engineering professionals and, in many cases, hold the title of chief systems engineer.


Is INCOSE Certification Worth It?

To obtain your credential, you must pay the INCOSE certification cost and exam fee, as well as devote a significant amount of time in completing an application and preparing for the exam. Maintaining your certification demands an ongoing commitment to professional development. However, you may find that this long-term investment results in making major strides toward your professional goals.

A systems engineering certification can help you obtain a job in the field, advance into a leadership position and receive higher compensation. Certified systems engineering professionals earn a higher salary on average and commonly hold leadership roles such as senior or principal systems engineer.

Completing a Master of Science in systems engineering can better prepare you to meet the requirements for certification. Learning key concepts in axiomatic design and systems analysis, integration and assessment will ready you to answer INCOSE exam questions. With an interdisciplinary education that covers the latest thinking in areas such as management practices for technical organizations and engineering economics, you’ll be able to apply these principles in a variety of real-world contexts.


About GW’s Online M.S. in Systems Engineering

The online M.S. in Systems Engineering prepares IT, analytics and other technology professionals to supervise technical development and implementation processes from start to finish while maintaining system performance well into the future.

George Washington University offers a comprehensive selection of online master’s degrees in engineering. The programs are designed with the same curriculum as the on campus degree programs, with a focus on positioning graduates for career advancement. GW offers the following master’s degrees 100% online:


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