Computer Engineers: Career Info & Job Description

Nov 27, 2019

A computer engineer is a professional who combines computer science with electrical engineering to build new computers and computer systems. Here we discuss computer engineer information concerning job duties, education, salary, and more.

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  • 0:01 Career Definition
  • 0:34 How to Become a…
  • 1:21 Career and Economic Outlook
  • 2:08 Alternative Careers

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Computer Engineer Job Description

Computer engineers work to improve the capabilities of computers and find new ways to apply computers to other machines and systems. These engineers generally need knowledge of computer hardware and software and combine many concepts from the fields of electrical engineering and computer science. These engineers may work with computer hardware, software, computer architecture, programming, and computer-based systems.

Several different job titles, including computer hardware engineer, software engineer, and computer architect, could fall under computer engineering. While job duties may vary with the specific job title and area of specialty, in general, computer engineers may be responsible for:

  • Building computers and computer-based systems
  • Working in teams with software developers and other IT professionals
  • Testing new hardware/software
  • Adjusting new designs as needed
  • Upgrading equipment and software as needed
  • Researching new technologies

Computer Engineer Education

Most computer engineers need at least a bachelor's degree. While many schools offer computer programming degree programs and programs in specific areas of computer engineering, such as computer network engineering degree programs, there are also many bachelor's degree programs in general computer engineering available, as well.

These degree programs are typically offered as a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree, and some are available in online formats. These programs usually take 4 years to complete and may include lab courses and/or hands-on design projects. Other coursework may cover topics in areas like:

  • Circuits
  • Logic design
  • Electronic devices
  • Statistics
  • Calculus
  • Computer science
  • Embedded systems
  • Discrete math
  • Computer applications

Computer Engineer Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide salary information for computer engineers as a whole but does explore different job titles within the field of computer engineering. The BLS reported that computer hardware engineers made an average annual salary of $117,840 in 2018. While most computer hardware engineers worked in computer systems design and related services, making an average salary of $114,400, computer hardware engineers working for software publishers made the highest average salary of $132,130 in 2018.

The BLS also stated that the average salary for computer network architects, who help design data communications and network hardware and software, was $111,130 in 2018. Software developers who specialize in systems software and need to use techniques from computer engineering and computer science, made an average salary of $114,000 in 2018, per the BLS.

Computer Engineer Outlook

The BLS reported that the job outlook for computer hardware engineers was 6% from 2018 to 2028, and the job outlook for computer network architects was 5% over the same time period. Both of these outlooks are as fast as the national average.

Software developers, on the other hand, were reported to have a job outlook of 21% from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than average. Software developers specializing in systems software had a job outlook of 10%, and the BLS noted that developers with knowledge in current programming tools and languages might have the best job prospects.

Other Computer Engineer Information

Computer engineers generally work full-time and may work in lab or office-type settings. Internships, projects, and other hands-on training opportunities are often helpful for these professionals as they pursue employment in the field. Advancement in the field usually involves gaining enough work experience to serve as a computer and information systems manager.

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