Programs in computer systems engineering often include the study of both hardware and software. This is because designing hardware that effectively solves problems requires software knowledge and vice versa. The field is inherently interdisciplinary, and computer automation is often a part of the curriculum, along with courses in electronics engineering, processing speed improvements and computer engineering principles.
Certificate Program in Computer Hardware Engineering
Certificate programs in computer systems engineering are not typically offered individually. Instead, they often represent a specialty within larger bachelor's degree programs. As such, most certificate programs indirectly have the prerequisites of their parent degree programs, which might include a high school diploma and standardized test scores. The strongest applicants often have demonstrable aptitudes in physics, mathematics and computer science. Laboratory work typically makes up a large part of the curriculum, with much of the theoretical learning taking place in the classroom. Coursework may include the following:
- Computational theory
- Software development and engineering
- Data structures
- Computer architecture
- Electrical circuits
- Sensors and transducers
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
While certificate programs combine training in both hardware and software, most computer engineers specialize in one or the other. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for computer hardware engineers was expected to grow at a slower-than-average rate of three percent from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS notes that while the use of information technology increases, hardware design is stifled by foreign competition.
The median annual salary for computer hardware engineers was $111,730 in 2015. The lowest-paid ten percent of engineers made less than $65,570, while the best-paid ten percent of engineers brought home more than $167,100 per year.
Although standalone certificate programs specific to computer hardware engineering are rare, students can choose a specialty within a bachelor's degree program in which lab work will be done in conjunction with coursework.