Computer hardware engineers work with the physical and tangible components of computers, planning, testing and building the parts for computer hardware pieces, such as memory chips, circuit cards, keyboards and other devices used to make a computer function. Without computer hardware engineers, computer users everywhere would not have reliable parts for their computers.
Recent reports reflect the average yearly salary for computer hardware engineers to be $101,410. Most engineers i this profession are paid on an hourly basis. The average hourly wage for the data figure mentioned would equal about $48.75. Immediately after graduation, new computer hardware engineers should not expect to earn as much as this figure projects; the figure is a national average, which takes into consideration varying jobs with employees having variable years of experience. Upon graduation from a Bachelor degree program, students may expect to earn an average of about $61,738 per year; this is the most recent average yearly salary for new graduates.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Computer hardware engineers must learn all the physical components of computers and how the systems work. They must be knowledgeable about all aspects, able to recall vital information while they are designing and testing components they have built. This job requires attention to detail, a long attention and concentration span and the ability to work under pressure. Most of these professionals have very rigid and set deadlines for projects, of which important people count on them to deliver.
The surroundings in most job locations include a well-lit and climate-controlled lab, office or building. Specific requirements for ample lighting and temperature are absolutely necessary for this job. Some engineers in smaller offices may be responsible for monitoring and maintaining a proper temperature and lighting scheme. Failure to comply with these regulations will result in not only poor visibility, but also potential damage to computer pieces that must be temperature-controlled. Work weeks are usually full-time for these professionals, with some companies demanding overtime or weekend work. Although schedules are demanding and very busy, ample time for proper testing of equipment is afforded these engineers. Some computer hardware engineers may be required to travel as a part of their job. Documentation, research and continuing education is important; keeping up-to-date of current technology is crucial to this career field. Most computer hardware engineers attend yearly seminars, meetings or company-required inservices and training.
Training and Education Requirements
Students must earn at least a Bachelor degree to become a computer hardware engineer. Those who wish to pursue a career in a high-end position or company should seek a graduate degree also. During a degree program, whether undergraduate or graduate, will include several hands-on laboratory practicals. Students will learn concepts related to digital design, electromagnetics, circuit boards, networks and embedded systems. Graduate students’ programs of study usually require more rigorous and intensive studies in the same areas, mainly focusing on parallel computing, machine vision systems or networking. These students must learn architecture of algorithms, microprocessors, computer components and organization.
Analytical, critical thinking and communication skills are taught to students; those who already possess these skills will find this area of study much easier. Knowledge of electronics is also helpful for those who plan to pursue this career choice. If a student plans to enter the field in an administrative or management position, special studies in business management, strategic planning, human resources, modeling and leadership are also subjects that are helpful to study.
In order to become a computer hardware engineer practitioner in this field, a graduate of a Bachelor or higher program must become a registered Professional Engineer with an approved association. Those who plan to secure a management position must also attain proper certification or education in business and administration classes. Aside from becoming registered as a Professional Engineer, there are no other formal requirements for computer hardware engineers to gain an additional license or certification. There is one helpful certification for graduates to gain – the A+ Technician Certification. This certification confirms that a student is knowledgeable about diagnostics and repair, as well as the components of computers and how they function. Many employers will require an A+ Certification as a condition of employment. Internationally recognized, the A+ Technician Certification is well worth the effort to earn.
The IEEE Computer Society is one of the world’s largest and most prominent computer associations for professionals in the industry. New information and developments are reported through this association; members are able to read about the information easily without performing searches. Another advantage of joining this association is the connections that computer hardware engineers are able to make; connections with both other hardware engineers and various other computer professionals may be made. Being a part of an association is beneficial for many self-employed computer hardware engineers in finding work regularly. Another professional association that is popular for computer hardware engineers to join is the American Association for Engineering Education. This association will provide engineers with valuable information and continuing education opportunities. Since computer hardware engineers must keep a certain amount of continuing education, this association is especially beneficial in that aspect.