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Become A Computer Hardware Designer

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Working As A Computer Hardware Designer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Processing Information
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $101,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Computer Hardware Designer Do

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:

  • Design new computer hardware, creating schematics of computer equipment to be built
  • Test the completed models of the computer hardware they design
  • Analyze the test results and modify the design as needed
  • Update existing computer equipment so that it will work with new software
  • Oversee the manufacturing process for computer hardware
  • Maintain knowledge of computer engineering trends and new technology

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.

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How To Become A Computer Hardware Designer

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.

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Computer Hardware Designer Typical Career Paths

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Average Yearly Salary
$101,000
Show Salaries
$74,000
Min 10%
$101,000
Median 50%
$101,000
Median 50%
$101,000
Median 50%
$101,000
Median 50%
$101,000
Median 50%
$101,000
Median 50%
$101,000
Median 50%
$138,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Xilinx
Highest Paying City
San Jose, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
2.7 years
How much does a Computer Hardware Designer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Computer Hardware Designer in the United States is $101,454 per year or $49 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $74,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $138,000.

Real Computer Hardware Designer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Touch Hardware Design & Integration (EE) Apple Inc. Cupertino, CA Oct 19, 2015 $135,000 -
$155,000
Baseband Hardware Designer Research In Motion Corporation Irving, TX Aug 01, 2013 $95,971 -
$129,700
Hardware Designer Magneti Marelli Holding USA, Inc. Auburn Hills, MI Oct 21, 2014 $93,371
Audio Hardware Designer Research In Motion Corporation Rolling Meadows, IL Jun 01, 2011 $91,518
Audio Hardware Designer Research In Motion Corporation Rolling Meadows, IL Mar 01, 2012 $90,000
Baseband Hardware Designer Research In Motion Corporation Irving, TX Jul 01, 2012 $89,176
Audio Hardware Designer Research In Motion Corporation Rolling Meadows, IL Sep 28, 2009 $88,000
Baseband Hardware Designer Research In Motion Corporation Irving, TX Oct 01, 2012 $87,005
Hardware Designer Blackberry Corporation Irving, TX Nov 05, 2013 $86,500 -
$129,700
Hardware Designer Research In Motion Corporation Rolling Meadows, IL Sep 01, 2012 $85,000
Hardware Designer Magneti Marelli Holding USA, Inc. Auburn Hills, MI Jul 16, 2015 $85,000
Hardware Designer Magneti Marelli Holding USA, Inc. Auburn Hills, MI Jul 16, 2012 $85,000
Hardware Designer Research In Motion Corporation Irving, TX Dec 24, 2010 $81,536

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Top Skills for A Computer Hardware Designer

  1. PCB
  2. Hardware Design
  3. Fpga
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Company's Business : Navigation and tracking devices Trading and ManufacturingMy Activity : AVR Programmer and PCB Designer
  • Worked with the hardware design team for the wireless HDMI transmitter.
  • Redesigned most of the FPGA circuitry dedicated to this reflection.
  • Design CAD files, laser-cut the plywood and acrylic, 3D printing the mechanism.
  • Developed, produced and installed advanced industrial control systems.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Computer Hardware Designers

  1. Maryland
  2. New Mexico
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Massachusetts
  5. California
  6. Alabama
  7. Alaska
  8. Colorado
  9. Michigan
  10. District of Columbia
  • (105 jobs)
  • (16 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)
  • (89 jobs)
  • (605 jobs)
  • (35 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (83 jobs)
  • (66 jobs)
  • (24 jobs)

Computer Hardware Designer Demographics

Gender

Male

70.8%

Female

20.2%

Unknown

9.0%
Ethnicity

White

48.9%

Asian

22.8%

Hispanic or Latino

10.7%

Unknown

10.1%

Black or African American

7.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Korean

40.0%

Chinese

20.0%

French

20.0%

Spanish

20.0%
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Computer Hardware Designer Education

Schools

University of Houston

10.3%

Purdue University

10.3%

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

10.3%

University of California - Berkeley

6.9%

Portland State University

6.9%

University of New Mexico

6.9%

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

3.4%

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

3.4%

University of Florida

3.4%

Stanford University

3.4%

ITT Technical Institute-Greenville

3.4%

Bob Jones University

3.4%

ITT Technical Institute-Dayton

3.4%

Rhode Island School of Design

3.4%

Springfield Technical Community College

3.4%

York Technical Institute

3.4%

University of Massachusetts Amherst

3.4%

University of Kansas

3.4%

University of California - Davis

3.4%

Santa Clara University

3.4%
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Majors

Electrical Engineering

45.5%

Computer Engineering

18.2%

Computer Science

8.0%

Mechanical Engineering

4.5%

Engineering

3.4%

Electrical Engineering Technology

2.3%

Business

2.3%

Computer Networking

2.3%

Engineering Technology

1.1%

Drafting And Design

1.1%

Music

1.1%

Biology

1.1%

Fine Arts

1.1%

Interior Design

1.1%

Mechatronics And Robotics

1.1%

Veterinary Science

1.1%

Automotive Technology

1.1%

Aerospace Engineering

1.1%

Operations Management

1.1%

Graphic Design

1.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

45.8%

Masters

33.3%

Other

9.4%

Associate

6.3%

Doctorate

3.1%

Diploma

2.1%
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