Computer engineering master's degree level study can lead to a number of different positions: you could become a computer hardware engineer, a systems software developer, or an application software developer, among others. Let's take a deeper look at each one of these common options now.
Computer engineers are experts at uniting new and preexisting software applications and operating systems with the latest developments in computer hardware. However, these engineers typically pursue only one branch of computer science, usually either software or hardware engineering. Those with a master's degree should have excellent job opportunities, especially in the software industry.
|Career Titles||Computer Hardware Engineer||Systems Software Developer||Application Software Developer|
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree|
|Other Education||Master's degree||Master's degree||Master's degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||3%||13%||19%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$111,730||$105,570||$98,260|
Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Find schools that offer these popular programs
Payscale.com reports that the beginning average salary for professionals with a Master of Science in Computer Engineering degree was $82,678 in September 2016. Per the same source, software engineers earned a median salary of $79,357, while senior software engineers earned a median of $102,779 per year.
Computer Hardware Engineer
Computer hardware engineers design and test the physical components of computer systems, including computer chips and circuit boards. They also develop and oversee the manufacturing of peripheral equipment like keyboards, printers and routers. Computer hardware engineers also manufacture and install computer-related equipment with business, military or scientific applications. The BLS reported in May 2014 that computer hardware engineers constituted about 77,700 workers across the country.
Employment for hardware engineers is expected to grow slower than average at three percent over the projected decade due to competition from foreign manufacturers. Employers typically seek candidates with computer engineering degrees and computer software knowledge.
Systems Software Developer
Computer systems engineers oversee the construction and maintenance of an organization's information technology (IT) infrastructure. This can include employing computers for financial management purposes, setting up an organizational intranet or designing a security and data assurance system. These engineers may also be called upon to coordinate, install and secure computer systems for other organizations. In May 2014, there were about 395,600 computer systems software engineers employed in the U.S. according to the BLS.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for systems software developers is expected to rise 13 percent from 2014-2024, which is much faster than average growth, due to the increasing demand for software.
Application Software Developer
Computer applications engineers are primarily focused on conceiving and developing an array of new computer software programs with a particular end-user in mind. Employing various languages, such as C, C++ and Java, these engineers create software coding for a range of businesses, gaming and utility applications. They also supervise the work of the programmers and technicians to ensure the software coding falls within a given set of scientific parameters. The BLS statistics reports that there were around 718,400 computer applications software developers in May 2014.
There are a few great options for computer engineering master's degree graduates. Although computer hardware engineers can look forward to reduced job growth during the period between 2014 and 2024, application and systems software developers can expect growth that's much faster than average, as well as a median salary of between $98,260 and $105,570 per annum.