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Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components such as processors, circuit boards, memory devices, networks, and routers. These engineers discover new directions in computer hardware, which generate rapid advances in computer technology.Duties
Computer hardware engineers typically do the following:
Many hardware engineers design noncomputer devices that incorporate processors and other computer components and connect to the Internet. For example, many car parts have computer systems embedded in them. Computer hardware engineers also are designing a growing number of medical devices with a computer system and the ability to connect to the Internet.
Computer hardware engineers ensure that computer hardware components work together with the latest software. Therefore, hardware engineers often work with software developers. For example, the hardware and software for a mobile phone frequently are developed jointly. Hardware engineers also may perform some computer programming in a hardware description language (HDL), which describes the digital circuits in hardware. Using this language, computer hardware engineers can simulate how the hardware design would work, test for errors, and then fix the design.
Most computer hardware engineers need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited computer engineering program.Education
Most entry-level computer hardware engineers have a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, although a degree in electrical engineering or computer science also is generally acceptable. A computer engineering major is similar to a major in electrical engineering but with a heavy emphasis on computer science.
Many engineering programs are accredited by ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). Employers may prefer students from an accredited program. To prepare for a major in computer or electrical engineering, students should have a solid background in math and science.
Because hardware engineers commonly work with computer software systems, a familiarity with computer programming usually is expected. This background may be obtained through computer science courses.
Some large firms or specialized jobs may require a master’s degree in computer engineering. Some experienced engineers obtain a master’s degree in business administration (MBA). All engineers must continue their learning over the course of their careers in order to keep up with rapid advances in technology.Other Experience
Some students participate in internships while in school so that they can gain practical experience.Advancement
Some computer hardware engineers can advance to become computer and information systems managers.Important Qualities
Analytical skills. Computer hardware engineers use computer programming tools to analyze the digital circuits in hardware to determine the best design.
Creativity. Computer hardware engineers design new types of information technology devices.
Critical-thinking skills. These engineers use logic and reasoning to clarify goals, examine assumptions, and identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions to problems.
Problem-solving skills. Computer hardware engineers identify complex problems in computer hardware, develop and evaluate possible solutions, and figure out the best way to implement them.
Speaking skills. Engineers often work on teams and must be able to communicate with other types of engineers as well as with nontechnical team members.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Computer Engineer
Top Careers After Computer Engineer
Hispanic or Latino11.0%
Black or African American1.3%
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University of Phoenix11.8%
Georgia Institute of Technology -7.5%
University of Central Florida5.9%
Florida International University5.4%
West Virginia University5.4%
Pennsylvania State University4.8%
George Mason University4.8%
Carnegie Mellon University4.3%
Polytechnic Institute of New York University4.3%
Johns Hopkins University4.3%
Old Dominion University3.8%
University of Louisville3.8%
University of Delaware3.8%
University of Arizona3.8%
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|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||Prism Skylabs||San Francisco, CA||May 06, 2015||$150,000|
|Computer Vision Engineer||Facebook, Inc.||Menlo Park, CA||Oct 26, 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 -
|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 -
|Computer Vision Engineer||Progyny, Inc.||New York, NY||Sep 30, 2016||$135,000|
|Computer Vision Engineer||Progyny, Inc.||New York, NY||Jan 08, 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 Science Engineer||Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory||Berkeley, CA||Apr 04, 2016||$94,764 -
|Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering||University of Idaho||Moscow, ID||Aug 14, 2016||$94,500|
|Computer Systms Engineer||Tata Consultancy Services Limited||San Jose, CA||Oct 01, 2015||$94,000|
|Comp SYS ENG. (Principal Systems Integration Engineer)||EMC Corporation||Hopkinton, MA||Aug 03, 2015||$93,933 -
|Computer Vision Engineer||Occipital, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Sep 04, 2015||$93,267 -
|Computer Vision Engineer||Digital Signal Corporation||Chantilly, VA||Sep 01, 2015||$93,000 -
|Assistant Professor, Dept. of Computer Engineering||Santa Clara University||Santa Clara, CA||Jun 16, 2016||$93,000|
|Computer Vision Engineer||Digital Signal Corporation||Chantilly, VA||Jan 09, 2015||$93,000 -
|Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Engineering Consultant||WS Atkins Inc.||Houston, TX||Feb 11, 2015||$80,517|
|Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering||Bradley University||Peoria, IL||Sep 23, 2016||$80,000|
|Computer Engineer||Plangrid, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Oct 20, 2016||$80,000 -
|Software Engineer .02 Comp Syst Engineers/Arch)||FPT USA Corporation||El Segundo, CA||Jan 05, 2015||$80,000|
|Computer Engineer||Agreeya Mobility Inc.||Frisco, TX||Sep 05, 2015||$80,000|
|Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering||Bradley University||Peoria, IL||Aug 17, 2015||$80,000|
|Assistant Professor Electrical & Computer Engineering||The University of Akron||Akron, OH||Jan 10, 2015||$80,000|
|Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Engineer||Deere & Company||Dubuque, IA||Sep 14, 2016||$80,000 -
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