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Firmware Engineer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Firmware engineers require a significant amount of programming skills and typically at least a bachelor's degree. Learn about the job duties, education requirements, and salary to see if this is the right career for you.

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Firmware engineers develop the software that manages electronic devices. These positions require proficiency in programming languages and applications, as well as good communications skills.

Essential Information

Firmware engineers create software used in electronic devices. Job requirements differ, but in most cases require at least a bachelor's degree or a master's degree in computer science, mathematics or engineering.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in computer science, mathematics or engineering
Other Requirements Programming skills and familiarity with computer language
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 17% (for all software developers)*
Median Salary (2015) $98,260 annually (for applications software developers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Firmware Engineer Job Description

Firmware is the programmable content in electronic hardware devices, such as remote controls, mobile phones and medical devices that provides instructions to the device on how to operate. Firmware engineers create and implement these instructions, called algorithms, which enable the hardware to function. They may alter, organize and model the functionality of software for a variety of industries, including the automotive, health care and consumer electronics industries.

A standard day for a firmware engineer is dependent on the industry in which they work. Workplace environment can vary, but is commonly in an office or laboratory. Travel and customer interaction in an advisory or management capacity occurs when the employer is a consulting firm or software provider.

Job Duties for a Firmware Engineer

A firmware engineer is responsible for the development and implementation of software for industry specific applications and systems. A firmware engineer plans, improves and manages software applications from inception to use. This can include allocating resources to complete programming projects, and designing detailed plans to ensure firmware is functioning properly. Preparation and creation of instructional technical manuscripts for firmware operation is a typical task. A job posting on Monster.com stated firmware engineers could travel to and interact with customers and team members for support of the developed applications and prototype installations.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide salary or employment outlook data for the firmware engineer specialty. However, the BLS indicated that the related job of software developer could see 17% growth in employment from 2014 to 2024. In its May 2015 salary report, the BLS stated that the median salary for applications software developers was $98,260.

Firmware Engineer Job Requirements

Skill Requirements

Programming skills and experience are highly desirable qualities for firmware engineering job candidates. A firmware engineer job search on Monster.com indicated a desire for familiarity with computer languages used for application development and frequently referenced Java, C/C++ and Microsoft SQL Server proficiency. As technology constantly evolves, the training on the latest technology may give firmware engineers a competitive edge in career opportunity.

Education Requirements

Certificate programs in firmware engineering focus on applicable skills relative to technological developments, and can assist one with career prospects in the firmware industry. Another way to achieve specialized training is receiving a bachelor's degree in computer engineering. Coursework introduces students to designing and understanding hardware systems requiring firmware.

While specific degrees are not required, employers usually seek at least a bachelor's degree in computer or information science, mathematics or physical sciences. A graduate degree may be required, depending on the job. Programming ability dictates employment prospects and can be obtained through education, training and internship experiences. Some employers offer concentrated training programs.

Firmware developers need a bachelor's degree to enter the field, although some employers or positions may require a master's degree. Certification is available for specific software and applications, and although usually voluntary, it may be preferred by employers. These positions have a median annual salary around $98,000.

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