Any type of job that involves computers is sure to have an excellent job outlook for the future.
If you are looking for a rewarding career that will provide you with a respectable salary and the opportunity to work in a variety of fields, you should consider working as a computer engineer.
What Is the Average Computer Engineer Salary?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual computer engineer salary in May 2017 was $115,120. The lower 10% of computer engineers earned less than $66,290 while the higher 10% of computer engineers earned over $176,900.
In the top individual industries that computer hardware engineers worked in, the average salary was as follows:
- Semi-conductor and other types of electronic component manufacturing - $130,150
- Research and Development in physical, engineering and life sciences - $126,670
- Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing - $122,060
- Computer systems design and related services - $114,030
- Federal government - $111,550
The majority of computer hardware engineers work full time. A computer engineer salary on average is higher than a standard engineer, who makes a median salary of $92,220.
What Are the Everyday Tasks of a
Computer engineers have the opportunity to work in a variety of fields. The majority of the work that a computer engineer will do on a daily basis includes working on computer hardware and software in the areas of design, construction, and overall operation of computer systems.
Many computer engineers specialize in specific areas of the industry. There are computer hardware engineers and programmers, as well as computer software engineers and programmers. While both have very different jobs. Engineers who only specialize in one area of computer engineering should also have a strong understanding of the other area since hardware and software are integral of one another.
What Does a Computer Hardware Engineer Do?
A computer hardware engineer’s job is to design new equipment, draw up blueprints for the equipment and test out prototypes of their designs. They must analyze the data and modify their designs to correct any errors.
Some computer hardware engineers will specialize in testing. While others take on the responsibility of updating computer equipment so that it complies with new software or new hardware components. A computer hardware engineer will also supervise the manufacturing of their newly designed hardware.
What Does a Computer Software Engineer Do?
A computer software engineer is also commonly known as a computer programmer. Their job is to write programs and codes that operate computers or any type of computerized equipment. They write in languages such as Java or C++. A computer software engineer will also use special tools that can speed up the process.
Other responsibilities for Computer Programmers include testing, debugging and updating programs. Some programmers may also develop new applications. They are known as software developers.
What Is the Work Environment Like for Computer Engineers?
The duties that a computer engineer performs each day depends on the specific needs of their employer. It also depends on the type of work environment they are in. The majority of computer hardware engineers in the United States (around 70,000 people), work inside research labs for technology manufacturers or system design companies. They may also work for scientific research organizations.
Most of the work performed by computer engineers is done at a computer desk inside an office. Some may even perform their online work at home remotely. Many software engineers in the U.S. work for computer systems designers or for IT firms. They may also work for financial institutions, insurance firms or on the administrative and support services team for various companies.
How Do You Become a Computer Engineer?
If you are interested in becoming a computer engineer, you will need to find out the educational requirements for the job.
As the desire for technological advancements continues, the need for trained computer engineers is on the rise. To become a professional in computer engineering, there are several options for earning a degree.
Earn a 2-Year Associate’s Degree
This is a great option for direct entry-level training if you don’t want to dedicate yourself to a four-year program. You will need to earn an associate’s degree in computer science or a related IT field of study. This can be attained at a community college or trade school. While an associate’s degree will help you get into the computer engineering field much faster, you will not have as many job opportunities available to you.
Earn a 4-Year Bachelor’s Degree
Most employers today will expect a computer software engineer to have at least a bachelor’s degree. You can earn this degree without an associate’s degree. Bachelor’s degree programs allow you to complete a comprehensive education while you focus on your studies in either hardware or software engineering.
If you are considering a career in software engineering, then you can earn your degree in general computer engineering or software engineering. Other acceptable undergrad majors include those in mathematics and computer science. Regardless of what degree program you choose, you must be sure that it is certified by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology or ABET.
Earn and Advanced Study Master’s Degree
While it is possible to find a good paying computer engineering job with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, you will find even better opportunities if you have a master's degree. Especially if you choose to work in hardware engineering. Many times, hardware engineers will often return back to school to take post-graduate classes so that they can improve their skills and earn a better computer engineer salary. In some cases, your employer may contribute to furthering your education if you agree to continue working for them in a new department for better pay.
Computer engineers who are interested in teaching at a community college or university will need to earn a Ph.D. in Information Technology. This will also allow them to move up to management roles in the workplace such as chief technology officer, IT strategist or chief information officer.
Specialized Training and Certification
Computer engineers with the proper amount of training may work as a general problem-solver for their company or focus on one aspect of their training. Hardware engineers can benefit from continuing their education in the area of software development. Receiving training in both areas can help open up many new doors for computer engineers.
There are some companies that may require a computer engineer to be certified before they may be hired. Certification exams are available to benchmark the skills for a potential employer or for engineers to earn an advancement within the company. They can be a great addition to any computer engineer’s resume and allow them to apply for a broader range of jobs inside different industries.
Certification categories to check out if you are interested in this area include the Microsoft Systems Administration, Cisco Network Wireless and Voice, Project Management, and VM Ware.
Online Computer Engineering
Another option for those pursuing a career in computer programming would be to enroll in an online degree program. Doing so will allow you to train on your own schedule and continue to work at your regular job until you receive your degree.
Online degree programs can be very convenient, but they are not all the same. There are three factors that all students should look for when checking out their options for online degree programs in computer science.
If you are looking for an online degree program to help you become a computer engineer, you need to find one that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology or ABET. They are the central accrediting body for the best computer engineering programs. Some employers may look for this accreditation and only hire computer engineers who earned their degree under an ABET-accredited program.
Faculty Experience and a Professional Background
It is well-known that the student’s success is determined by the caliber of the school’s faculty and their instructors. When it comes to computer science programs, you will want instructors who have a background in hardware or software engineering.
Specializations and Breadth of Instruction
The primary goal of completing a computer science degree is to provide the student with the training and skills they need to work in today’s high-tech world. Incoming students will want to review the curriculum for the programs they are interested in and find out if their studies fit well with the industry they hope to go into.
What Is the Job Outlook for a Computer Engineer?
The job outlook for a computer engineer is very good and expected to grow up to 5% between 2016 and 2026.
Currently, there is a limited number of computer engineers that meet the needs of the latest computer hardware and software advancements. Therefore, it is important that those enrolled in a degree program take classes that teach the latest techniques hardware and software engineers need to know.