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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 Hardware Engineer
Top Careers After Hardware Engineer
Hispanic or Latino7.3%
Black or African American0.9%
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San Jose State University13.8%
Rochester Institute of Technology7.4%
Georgia Institute of Technology -5.6%
University of Southern California5.3%
Santa Clara University5.0%
Arizona State University4.8%
University of Houston4.5%
Illinois Institute of Technology4.0%
University of Florida4.0%
Pennsylvania State University3.7%
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo3.7%
University of Colorado at Boulder3.7%
Texas A&M University3.4%
University of Washington3.4%
Worcester Polytechnic Institute3.4%
University of Massachusetts - Lowell3.2%
University of Texas at Austin3.2%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Hardware Engineer||Jump Operations, LLC||New York, NY||Sep 14, 2016||$250,000 -
|Hardware Engineer||Google Inc.||Mountain View, CA||Aug 19, 2016||$214,000|
|Hardware Engineer, SR. Staff 1||Samsung Research America, Inc.||Mountain View, CA||Dec 21, 2015||$185,000|
|Hardware Engineer, SR. Staff||Samsung Research America, Inc.||Mountain View, CA||Jun 04, 2015||$185,000|
|Hardware Engineer, SR. Staff 1||Samsung Research America, Inc.||Mountain View, CA||Mar 05, 2016||$185,000|
|Hardware Engineer||Google Inc.||Mountain View, CA||Jul 25, 2016||$180,000|
|Hardware Engineer||Apple Inc.||Cupertino, CA||Apr 10, 2015||$180,000 -
|Hardware Engineer||Google Life Sciences LLC||Mountain View, CA||Nov 01, 2016||$180,000|
|Hardware Engineer||Verily Life Sciences, LLC||South San Francisco, CA||Apr 29, 2016||$180,000|
|Hardware Engineer||Google Inc.||Mountain View, CA||Nov 16, 2015||$179,000|
|Hardware Engineer||Google Inc.||Mountain View, CA||Aug 24, 2016||$176,000|
|Hardware DEV ENG||Apple Inc.||Cupertino, CA||Feb 09, 2016||$175,000 -
|Hardware Engineer||Google Inc.||Mountain View, CA||Apr 04, 2016||$175,000|
|Hardware Engineer||Google Inc.||Mountain View, CA||Jun 05, 2016||$174,000|
|Hardware Engineer||Intel Corporation||Santa Clara, CA||Sep 23, 2015||$114,376 -
|Graphics Hardware Engineer||Intel Corporation||Santa Clara, CA||Aug 12, 2015||$114,254 -
|Computer Hardware Engineer||Apple Inc.||Cupertino, CA||May 18, 2015||$114,254|
|Graphics Hardware Engineer||Intel Corporation||Santa Clara, CA||Aug 20, 2015||$114,254 -
|Hardware Engineer||Cercacor Laboratories, Inc.||Irvine, CA||Jan 06, 2015||$114,140|
|Staff Hardware Engineer||Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.||San Jose, CA||Jan 24, 2015||$114,100 -
|Staff Hardware Engineer||Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.||San Diego, CA||Jul 20, 2015||$114,100 -
|Staff Hardware Engineer||Qualcomm Atheros, Inc.||San Jose, CA||Jul 18, 2015||$114,100 -
|Electrical/Hardware Engineer||Hewlett-Packard Company||Houston, TX||Apr 22, 2016||$96,803 -
|Hardware Engineer||Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.||San Diego, CA||Aug 07, 2016||$96,720 -
|Hardware Engineer||Cisco Systems, Inc.||Parkton, NC||Jun 23, 2015||$96,577 -
|Hardware Engineer||Cisco Systems, Inc.||San Jose, CA||Feb 03, 2015||$96,400 -
|Hardware Engineer||Cisco Systems, Inc.||San Jose, CA||Mar 26, 2015||$96,400 -
|Graphics Hardware Engineer||Intel Corporation||Santa Clara, CA||Feb 02, 2015||$96,385 -
|Hardware Engineer, MTS III||Panasonic Avionics Corporation||Lake Forest, CA||Apr 20, 2016||$96,371|
|Graphics Hardware Engineer||Intel Corporation||Folsom, CA||Oct 01, 2015||$96,353 -
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