Online Hardware Engineering Education and Degree Program Options

Get info about online programs in hardware engineering. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Hardware engineers design, test, develop and maintain computer hardware systems. A bachelor's degree is typically required to find employment as a computer hardware engineer. While a degree in computer engineering is the most common, professionals in the field may hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or electrical engineering with a strong background in math and science recommended.

Online programs in computer engineering technology may be quite rare, and may only be offered as options through private, for-profit institutions. More commonly, computer science degrees may be available in online formats, but even these programs may be designed as completion programs, or may include some on-campus completion requirements. The article below discusses online bachelor's degree programs in computer engineering technology.

Computer Engineering Technology Bachelor's Degree

In these online undergraduate degree programs, students study topics related to computer hardware, including processing chips, modems, keyboards, circuit boards and printers. A strong background in high school math and science classes is recommended. Other typical prerequisite courses include algebra, basic computer skills, English and social studies. Graduates are awarded a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree.

Information and Requirements

Online bachelor's degree programs in computer engineering technology are often designed for working professionals, offering both full-time and part-time schedules. Approximately 125 credit hours are required, and the programs take about four years to complete with full-time enrollment. Some schools allow continuous enrollment, while others have specific session start and end dates. Students can access classes, assignments, presentations, libraries and resources at any time of day or night. Some schools offer e-mail and live chat for communication with faculty.

To complete these programs, participants must have access to a personal computer and Internet connection fast enough to access all media and study tools.Typical minimum hardware and operating system requirements may apply, such as a minimum of Windows XP or MAC OS 10.

Common Coursework

Coursework in these programs focuses on programming, computer architecture, networking and operating systems. Database system communications and design are also typical areas of study. Some of the common courses and descriptions are listed below.

Introduction to Computer Programming

Students are introduced to various problems and techniques for solving them using different computer languages and environments, such as Java, UNIX, Linux and Eclipse IDE. Areas of concentration include logical structure, diagramming, charting, arrays, menus, flow charts, concepts and exception handling.

Architecture of Microprocessors

This class covers the building blocks of the microprocessor including practical applications, concepts, instruction sets, programming, algorithms, languages and interface input and output. The class also covers personal computer issues in digital to analog conversion, programming, switches, interfaces and firmware.

Networking in Computers

Students of this class learn about current technology used in local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs). The class also covers data communications and networking on the Internet protocol suite (TCP-IP).


Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May of 2015 most hardware engineers were employed in the computer systems design or computer manufacturing industries. At that time the BLS also reported that the average annual wage for computer hardware engineers was $114,970 (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education and Licensure Information

Computer hardware engineers might pursue master's degrees in computer engineering to develop their technical and management skills. Master's degree programs often focus on developing research abilities, allowing students to choose their courses and study topics based on the interests they have developed in previous study and work experience. Some programs are available through distance education, though on-campus offerings are more plentiful.

All states require licensure for engineers who work directly with the public. Graduates must complete two stages of testing and meet education and work experience requirements. Graduates of an approved educational program are eligible to sit for the Fundamentals of Engineering examination (FE). After successful passing of the test, engineers earn the engineer in training (EIT) or engineer intern (EI) designation. Once the work experience requirement is met, usually four years, engineers can take the Principles and Practice Engineering exam to achieve professional engineer (PE) status.

Individuals who would like to continue working while pursuing their degree in hardware engineering can find programs offered entirely online, both full- and part-time. Courses focus on computer programming, networking, and microprocessors, among other topics.


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