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Become A Computer Engineer

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Working As A Computer Engineer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Getting Information
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $74,442

    Average Salary

What Does A Computer Engineer Do

Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or that control networks.

Duties

Software developers typically do the following:

  • Analyze users’ needs and then design, test, and develop software to meet those needs
  • Recommend software upgrades for customers’ existing programs and systems
  • Design each piece of an application or a system and plan how the pieces will work together
  • Create a variety of models and diagrams (such as flowcharts) that instruct programmers how to write software code
  • Ensure that a program continues to function normally through software maintenance and testing
  • Document every aspect of an application or a system as a reference for future maintenance and upgrades
  • Collaborate with other computer specialists to create optimum software

Software developers are in charge of the entire development process for a software program. They may begin by asking how the customer plans to use the software. They must identify the core functionality that users need from software programs. Software developers must also determine user requirements that are unrelated to the functionality of software, such as the level of security and performance needs. They design the program and then give instructions to programmers, who write computer code and test it.

If the program does not work as expected or if testers find it too difficult to use, software developers go back to the design process to fix the problems or improve the program. After the program is released to the customer, a developer may perform upgrades and maintenance.

Developers usually work closely with computer programmers. However, in some companies, developers write code themselves instead of giving instructions to the programmers.

Developers who supervise a software project from the planning stages through implementation sometimes are called information technology (IT) project managers. These workers monitor the project’s progress to ensure that it meets deadlines, standards, and cost targets. IT project managers who plan and direct an organization’s IT department or IT policies are included in the profile on computer and information systems managers.

The following are examples of types of software developers:

Applications software developers design computer applications, such as word processors and games, for consumers. They may create custom software for a specific customer or commercial software to be sold to the general public. Some applications software developers create complex databases for organizations. They also create programs that people use over the Internet and within a company’s intranet.

Systems software developers create the systems that keep computers functioning properly. These could be operating systems for computers that the general public buys or systems built specifically for an organization. Often, systems software developers also build the system’s interface, which is what allows users to interact with the computer. Systems software developers are creating the operating systems that control most of the consumer electronics in use today, including the systems in phones or cars.

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How To Become A Computer Engineer

Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree in computer science and strong computer programming skills.

Education

Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree, typically in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. A degree in mathematics is also acceptable. Computer science degree programs are the most common, because they tend to cover a broad range of topics. Students should focus on classes related to building software in order to better prepare themselves for work in the occupation. For some positions, employers may prefer a master’s degree.

Although writing code is not their first priority, developers must have a strong background in computer programming. They usually gain this experience in school. Throughout their career, developers must keep up to date on new tools and computer languages.

Software developers also need skills related to the industry in which they work. Developers working in a bank, for example, should have knowledge of finance so that they can understand a bank’s computing needs.

Other Experience

Many students gain experience in software development by completing an internship at a software company while in college.

Some software developers first work as computer programmers and then are given more responsibility as they gain experience. Eventually, they become developers.

Advancement

Software developers can advance to become information technology (IT) project managers, also called computer and information systems managers, a position in which they oversee the software development process.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Developers must analyze users’ needs and then design software to meet those needs.

Communication skills. Developers must be able to give clear instructions to others working on a project. They must also explain to their customers how the software works and answer any questions that arise.

Computer skills. Developers must understand computer capabilities and programming languages in order to design effective software.

Creativity. Developers are the creative minds behind new computer software.

Detail oriented. Developers often work on many parts of an application or system at the same time and must therefore be able to concentrate and pay attention to detail.

Interpersonal skills. Software developers must be able to work well with others who contribute to designing, developing, and programming successful software.

Problem-solving skills. Because developers are in charge of software from beginning to end, they must be able to solve problems that arise throughout the design process.

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Computer Engineer jobs

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Computer Engineer Career Paths

Computer Engineer
Network Technician Senior System Administrator
Data Center Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Information Technology Manager Director Of Information
Director Information Technology Infrastructure
13 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Systems Administrator Information Technology Manager
Director Of Information
10 Yearsyrs
Electrical Engineer Senior Systems Engineer Director Of Information
Director Of Information Technology Services
12 Yearsyrs
Network Technician Network Administrator Information Technology Manager
Director Of Infrastructure Operations
13 Yearsyrs
Network Engineer Systems Engineer Senior Software Engineer
Director Of Software Development
12 Yearsyrs
Information Technology Manager Information Technology Administrator Systems Analyst
Information Systems Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Director
10 Yearsyrs
Software Engineer Systems Engineer Systems Administrator
Information Technology Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Desktop Support Technician Systems Administrator Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Systems Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Desktop Support Technician Network Administrator Information Technology Manager
Infrastructure Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Software Engineer Systems Analyst Business Analyst
Product Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Network Administrator Director Of Information
Senior Director Of Information & Technology
13 Yearsyrs
Senior Software Engineer Senior Systems Engineer Information Technology Manager
Senior Information Technology Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Software Engineer Business Analyst Product Manager
Senior Product Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Network Engineer Information Technology Manager Director Of Information
Vice President Of Information Technology
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Development Manager Director Of Software Development
Vice President Of Software Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Network Administrator Project Manager General Manager
Vice President, Business Development
13 Yearsyrs
Electrical Engineer Project Engineer Product Manager
Vice President, Product Management
13 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Senior Software Engineer Director Of Software Development
Vice President, Software Development
11 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Customer Engineer 4.8 years
Staff Engineer 4.3 years
Systems Specialist 4.2 years
Team Lead Engineer 3.4 years
Computer Analyst 3.3 years
Engineer 3.2 years
Systems Engineer 3.2 years
Computer Engineer 3.0 years
Computer Networker 2.9 years
Lan/Wan Engineer 2.7 years
Solutions Engineer 2.7 years
Desktop Engineer 2.6 years
Computer Builder 2.3 years
Computer Assistant 2.2 years
Help Desk Engineer 1.8 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 6.1%
Engineer 4.0%
Top Employers After
Consultant 5.1%
Engineer 3.6%
Manager 3.3%

Computer Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

77.5%

Female

16.0%

Unknown

6.5%
Ethnicity

White

63.0%

Asian

18.8%

Hispanic or Latino

11.0%

Unknown

5.9%

Black or African American

1.3%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

23.2%

French

13.7%

Arabic

11.6%

Chinese

7.4%

Mandarin

6.3%

Turkish

4.2%

Persian

4.2%

Italian

4.2%

German

3.2%

Japanese

3.2%

Russian

3.2%

Korean

3.2%

Carrier

3.2%

Hindi

2.1%

Urdu

2.1%

Portuguese

1.1%

Vietnamese

1.1%

Cantonese

1.1%

Venetian

1.1%

Ukrainian

1.1%
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Computer Engineer Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

11.8%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

7.5%

University of Central Florida

5.9%

Florida International University

5.4%

West Virginia University

5.4%

Purdue University

5.4%

Pennsylvania State University

4.8%

George Mason University

4.8%

Northeastern University

4.8%

Carnegie Mellon University

4.3%

Polytechnic Institute of New York University

4.3%

Boston University

4.3%

Drexel University

4.3%

Johns Hopkins University

4.3%

Old Dominion University

3.8%

University of Louisville

3.8%

University of Delaware

3.8%

Cornell University

3.8%

Oakland University

3.8%

University of Arizona

3.8%
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Majors

Computer Engineering

29.3%

Electrical Engineering

18.6%

Computer Science

16.6%

Business

6.9%

Information Technology

3.8%

Engineering

3.2%

Computer Networking

3.0%

Computer Information Systems

3.0%

Mechanical Engineering

2.6%

Information Systems

1.9%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.4%

Management

1.3%

Mathematics

1.3%

Project Management

1.1%

Systems Engineering

1.1%

Management Information Systems

1.0%

Computer Engineering Technology

1.0%

Aerospace Engineering

1.0%

Accounting

0.9%

Psychology

0.8%
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Degrees

Bachelors

38.2%

Masters

27.6%

Other

15.2%

Doctorate

9.0%

Associate

6.1%

Certificate

2.6%

Diploma

1.3%

License

0.1%
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Real Computer Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Computer Vision Engineer Tangible Play Inc. Palo Alto, CA Jul 27, 2016 $157,477
Computer Engineer Plangrid, Inc. San Francisco, CA Nov 30, 2015 $156,000
Computer Vision Engineer Facebook, Inc. Menlo Park, CA Jul 11, 2016 $156,000
Computer Vision Engineer Tangible Play, Inc. Palo Alto, CA Sep 18, 2015 $152,776
Computer Vision Engineer Facebook, Inc. Menlo Park, CA Oct 26, 2015 $150,000
Computer Vision Engineer Prism Skylabs San Francisco, CA May 06, 2015 $150,000
Computer Vision Engineer Pro Unlimited, Inc. Pittsburgh, PA Jun 09, 2016 $145,600
Computer Vision Engineer Polycom, Inc. Burlington, MA Sep 15, 2016 $140,000 -
$160,000
Openxt Advising Computer Engineer Assured Information Security, Inc. Burlington, MA Apr 09, 2016 $140,000
Comp SYS Engineers (Advisory Solutions Principal) EMC Corporation Santa Clara, CA Sep 14, 2016 $138,600 -
$187,600
Computer Vision Engineer Progyny, Inc. New York, NY Jan 08, 2016 $135,000
Computer Vision Engineer Progyny, Inc. New York, NY Sep 30, 2016 $135,000
Computer Vision Engineer IOWN, LLC New York, NY Jun 14, 2016 $134,909
Scientific Computing Engineer IV Dart Neuroscience, LLC San Diego, CA Jul 19, 2016 $134,750
Computer Vision Engineer Occipital, Inc. San Francisco, CA Jul 07, 2016 $98,866 -
$107,000
Staff ENG. Soft/Comp. Engineering Automated Logic Corporation Kennesaw, GA Aug 04, 2015 $98,821 -
$107,000
Computer Engineer Tentmaker Systems Consulting Group Milpitas, CA Aug 22, 2015 $98,488
Computer Engineer Innovative Electronics Group Pittsburgh, PA Mar 18, 2016 $97,594
Computational Fluid Dynamics Engineer Hanbon-Mi II, Inc. Auburn Hills, MI Aug 18, 2015 $97,108
Lead Computer Vision Engineer Hivemapper, Inc. Burlingame, CA Aug 18, 2016 $96,866
Computer Aided Engineer Applied Materials, Inc. Gloucester, MA Jun 19, 2015 $96,616 -
$116,600
Computer Vision Engineer Automated Precision, Inc. Rockville, MD Jan 14, 2015 $96,221
Computer Engineer/Architect II Pivotal Dimension, Inc. Burlington, MA Jun 09, 2016 $80,000 -
$110,000
Computer Engineer Plangrid, Inc. San Francisco, CA Oct 20, 2016 $80,000 -
$156,000
Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Engineer Deere & Company Dubuque, IA Sep 14, 2016 $80,000 -
$90,000
Computer Engineer Agreeya Mobility Inc. Frisco, TX Sep 05, 2015 $80,000
Computation Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Engineer Ford Motor Company Dearborn, MI May 18, 2015 $79,766 -
$109,740
Computer Engineer Data Physics Corporation San Jose, CA Sep 16, 2016 $78,739

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Top Skills for A Computer Engineer

ComputerHardwarePCComputerSystemsCustomerServiceLabDataAnalysisPrintersDesktopC/C++LaptopsTroubleshootSetupRemoteWebWindowsXPLinuxSQLInternetActiveDirectoryTechnicalSupport

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Top Computer Engineer Skills

  1. Computer Hardware
  2. PC
  3. Computer Systems
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Assist with day-to-day problems relating to computer hardware, software implementation, configuration, and local area network issues.
  • Upgrade Phoenix bios on motherboards, troubleshooting, and repair PCs and peripherals.
  • Maintained good working knowledge on the Xerox Sigma 2 and Sigma 7 Computer Systems.
  • Served as a point of contact to different departments at the hotel property on customer service and support issues.
  • Located and interviewed vendors of materials, equipment, or supplies to determine product availability and terms of sales.

Top Computer Engineer Employers

Computer Engineer Videos

Q&A - Computer Science VS Computer Engineering

What Is Computer Engineering?

Advice from a Computer Engineering (BSCE) student from drkit.org

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