The Associate of Applied Science in Electronics and Computer Hardware degree program prepares graduates for careers as computer electronics technicians, while graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Computer Hardware degree program are able to pursue employment as computer hardware engineers. The associate's program has specialization in the form of networking and computer electronics, while the bachelor's has computer hardware.
Both degrees require that students have earned a high school diploma or GED to enroll. In addition, ACT or SAT scores are also required. For the bachelor's program, some schools may require that students have a certain high school GPA and a background in science and mathematics courses.
Associate of Applied Science in Electronics and Computer Hardware
The associate's degree program in electronics and computer hardware is designed to provide hands-on instruction in computer design and fabrication. Some of the program's topics include computer electronics, alternating and direct current circuits, computer logic, and microprocessors. Laboratory work is also an important element of this degree program. Computer hardware classes heavily emphasize computer components, processor logic, and electronic circuitry. Possible courses include the following:
- Computer electronics
- Computer logic
- Digital systems in computers
- Microprocessors and microcomputers
- Alternating and direct current circuits
- Hardware technology in computers
Bachelor of Science in Computer Hardware
Whereas the associate's degree program focuses mainly on the component level of computer design, bachelor's degree programs in computer hardware engineering emphasize application design, computer programming, and engineering theory. The degree program is usually completed in four years of full-time study and is composed of courses in computer science and electrical engineering. Many bachelor's degree programs in computer hardware engineering require that candidates complete projects during the final year of enrollment. Computer hardware engineering coursework emphasizes the theory and design behind computer system production. Some examples include the following:
- Introduction to computer engineering
- Design of digital circuits
- Engineering physics
- Operating systems
- Analysis of linear circuits
Popular Career Options
Graduates of an associate's degree in electronics and computer hardware program may be prepared to work in a variety of roles. Some possible job outcomes include the following:
- Computer service technician
- Computer support specialist
- Computer systems administrator
Graduates of bachelor's degree programs in computer hardware engineering might be able to find employment opportunities in many engineering environments, including manufacturing and production, engineering development and design, and computer systems design. Career options include the following:
- Computer hardware engineer
- Computer systems designer
- Computer systems administrator
Salary Information and Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a job decline rate of 2% for electrical and electronics engineering technicians is predicted between 2014 and 2024; during the same period, computer hardware engineers are expected to experience a 3% increase in employment (www.bls.gov). All of this data represents slower-than-average job growth in these occupations.
In 2015, the BLS listed the mean annual salary for electrical and electronics engineering technicians at $61,870. The average income for computer hardware engineers in 2015 was $114,970.
Continuing Education Information
Master's degree programs in computer hardware engineering are available for those who wish to continue their education at advanced levels. Graduate students have the opportunity to study particular areas of interest within the field. Many programs require candidates to research and write theses prior to graduation.
A computer hardware-related associate's or bachelor's degree program teaches students a wide variety of skills and techniques related to working with computers and the intricate machinery that make them up. Graduates from both programs have a number of careers they can find employment in, with a master's degree available for bachelor's graduates if they choose to continue their education.