Career Spotlight: Computer Hardware Engineer

What Is a Computer Hardware Engineer, and Is It the Right Career for You?

Do you like computers, programming, and engineering? Why not combine them and become a computer hardware engineer? These professionals help advance the world of computer technology by creating new hardware systems.

Let’s take a closer look at this job and see if it fits in with your career goals.

What Is a Computer Hardware Engineer?

Simply put, computer hardware engineers research, design, and build computer systems. They combine their expertise and knowledge in information technology, electronics, and engineering to design and test the various components of computer structures. They develop computer equipment like routers, processors, and circuit boards.

What Do Computer Hardware Engineers Do?

As mentioned, a computer hardware engineer is responsible for developing parts of a computer system. They may work independently or as part of a team of other technology professionals. They identify problems and come up with ways to solve them, as well as develop technology improvements. Some typical job duties include:

  • Designing new computer equipment and hardware
  • Making models of new hardware and testing those models
  • Analyzing test results
  • Upgrading computer equipment to increase compatibility with new software
  • Working with software engineers
  • Overseeing the manufacturing process

Where Do Computer Hardware Engineers Work?

Many computer hardware engineers work in research laboratories and for computer companies and design firms. They work in fields such as computer and electronic product manufacturing, computer system design, and scientific research and development. The majority of these professionals work in urban areas.

How to Become a Computer Hardware Engineer

To become a computer hardware engineer, you need the appropriate education, experience, and credentials. Most employers require applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree from an ABET-accredited program in hardware engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, or a related field. Since working in this field means working with both hardware and software, it’s beneficial for students to take courses in computer science so they have working knowledge of computer programming. A master’s degree is encouraged to provide even more knowledge and experience.

It’s also important to gain hands-on experience by taking internships. Some schools offer robotics and computer competitions where students can practice what they know and build their portfolios. Of course, it’s also good to reach out to experts in the field to make professional connections and learn directly from those with significant experience.

Depending on where you work, you may benefit from earning certain other credentials. There are a variety of certifications that you can pursue to further your education and boost your resume. These certifications are: Engineer in Training Certification, Software Engineering Management Associate Engineer, Certified LabVIEW Developer, and Software Engineering Master Certification.

Skills a Computer Hardware Engineer Needs

There are certain skills and qualities that make for a good computer hardware engineer. These include:

  • Using problem-solving skills
  • Being creative to come up with designs
  • Being effective at oral and written communication
  • Possessing a working knowledge of computer programming and software development
  • Being able to think analytically
  • Being prepared to work long hours

What Degree Is Needed to Be a Computer Hardware Engineer?

As mentioned, to become a computer hardware engineer, you need to have at least a bachelor’s degree from an ABET-accredited program. Excelsior’s Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering Technology program prepares students for electrical and allied engineering technology positions in technology-related industries such as electronics, electrical power, semiconductors and computers, and nanotechnology. Accredited by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET, the program is designed specifically to advance job skills by ensuring a breadth of knowledge in technology concepts as well as a depth of understanding and skills in one of two technical concentrations—electronics or power systems. Either is an appropriate choice for anyone wishing to enter the field of computer engineering.

How Much Do Computer Hardware Engineers Make in a Year?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of 2021, the average median pay for a computer hardware engineer is $128,170. The BLS reports this occupation will grow 5 percent from 2021 to 2031, with about 5,300 jobs opening each year. So, overall, this is a perfect time to enter this growing field. Contact an Excelsior admissions counselor today to get started on your path to becoming a computer hardware engineer.