Hardware engineers or computer hardware engineers are responsible for developing, designing, and examining computer hardware. They help speed up new computer technology by creating enhancements in computer hardware. The hardware engineers oversee the installation of parts, manufacturing, and production. Also, they examine intricate equipment to identify an effective way to improve it as well as design devices used in manufactured products. Another responsibility is to ensure computer hardware units work with the newest software, which often requires collaboration with other software engineers.

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Hardware Engineer Responsibilities

Here are examples of responsibilities from real hardware engineer resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Manage multiple consultants designing Altera FPGAs for CMD.
  • Develop both JAVA and PythonQT GUI for managing searches.
  • Modify python scripts using SCPI commands to automate test equipment via GPIB interface.
  • Install, manage and maintain servers and workstations, both remotely and on-site.
  • Develop Perl scripts to automate measurements.
  • Generate synthesis reports and automate simulation using Perl scripts.
  • Board FPGA'S are code in VHDL or VERILOG.
  • Run various Unix OS commands and low level commands as well as, view logs as required to troubleshoot system failures.
  • Perform debugging task on PCB prototype and interface with manufacturing testing procedures.
  • Mentor: Calibre, DFT.
  • Size of the largest IP is 600K gates.
  • Code packet and framing functions for Xilinx Virtex.
  • Used UVM in SystemVerilog to create testbenches for FPGA verification.
  • Design the entire FPGA base DSP system from algorithms to implementation.
  • Plan board for unman aerial vehicle, and validate FPGA modules.

Hardware Engineer Job Description

Between the years 2018 and 2028, hardware engineer jobs are expected to undergo a growth rate described as "as fast as average" at 6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So if the thought "should I become a hardware engineer?" Has crossed your mind, maybe you should take the growth rate into account. In addition, the number of hardware engineer opportunities that are projected to become available by 2028 is 4,000.

A hardware engineer annual salary averages $104,912, which breaks down to $50.44 an hour. However, hardware engineers can earn anywhere from upwards of $77,000 to $142,000 a year. This means that the top-earning hardware engineers make $64,000 more than the lowest-earning ones.

Once you've become a hardware engineer, you may be curious about what other opportunities are out there. Careers aren't one size fits all. For that reason, we discovered some other jobs that you may find appealing. Some jobs you might find interesting include a design verification engineer, senior staff engineer, verification engineer, and senior computer engineer.

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Hardware Engineer Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 8% of Hardware Engineers are proficient in Python, RF, and PCB. They’re also known for soft skills such as Analytical skills, Problem-solving skills, and Communication skills.

We break down the percentage of Hardware Engineers that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Python, 8%

    Developed scripts in Python, utilizing databases and test servers for testing on hard drives adhering to qualification procedures.

  • RF, 7%

    Implemented RF Cable/Connector selection and assembly drawings for the Frequency Synthesizer Distribution Unit Test fixture.

  • PCB, 6%

    Performed debugging task on PCB prototype and interfaced with manufacturing testing procedures.

  • CAD, 5%

    Performed 3D mechanical CAD designs using SolidWorks to generate prototype parts and present customers with 3D model previews of the designs.

  • Analog, 5%

    Recommended and implemented corrective actions for analog and digital systems and subsystems to include component conditions and/or problems.

  • Cadence, 4%

    Designed two printed circuit boards, using Cadence, which were used to test a proprietary Voltage to Frequency Converter ASIC.

"python," "rf," and "pcb" aren't the only skills we found hardware engineers list on their resumes. In fact, there's a whole list of hardware engineer responsibilities that we found, including:

  • Arguably the most important personality trait for a hardware engineer to have happens to be analytical skills. An example from a resume said this about the skill, "computer hardware engineers use computer programming tools to analyze the digital circuits in hardware to determine the best design." Additionally, other resumes have pointed out that hardware engineers can use analytical skills to "analyzed signal integrity to verify the correct signals were properly transmitted. "
  • Another commonly found skill for being able to perform hardware engineer duties is the following: problem-solving skills. According to a hardware engineer resume, "computer hardware engineers identify complex problems in computer hardware, develop and evaluate possible solutions, and figure out the best way to implement them." Check out this example of how hardware engineers use problem-solving skills: "analyzed signal integrity issues, identified solutions, and provided feedback to customers. "
  • Hardware engineers are also known for communication skills, which can be critical when it comes to performing their duties. An example of why this skill is important is shown by this snippet that we found in a hardware engineer resume: "engineers often work on teams and must be able to communicate with other types of engineers, software developers and programmers, as well as with nontechnical team members." We also found this resume example that details how this skill is put to the test: "integrated communication between micro-controller (arduino) and pc with pure data (pd) programming software by usb protocol. "
  • See the full list of hardware engineer skills.

    Before becoming a hardware engineer, 69.3% earned their bachelor's degree. When it comes down to graduating with a master's degree, 17.0% hardware engineers went for the extra education. If you're wanting to pursue this career, it may be possible to be successful with a high school degree. In fact, most hardware engineers have a college degree. But about one out of every nine hardware engineers didn't attend college at all.

    Those hardware engineers who do attend college, typically earn either a electrical engineering degree or a computer engineering degree. Less commonly earned degrees for hardware engineers include a electrical engineering technology degree or a mechanical engineering degree.

    Once you're ready to become a hardware engineer, you should explore the companies that typically hire hardware engineers. According to hardware engineer resumes that we searched through, hardware engineers are hired the most by Apple, Honeywell, and Google. Currently, Apple has 37 hardware engineer job openings, while there are 30 at Honeywell and 21 at Google.

    But if you're interested in companies where you might earn a high salary, hardware engineers tend to earn the biggest salaries at Meta, Apple, and Twitter. Take Meta for example. The median hardware engineer salary is $153,814. At Apple, hardware engineers earn an average of $144,233, while the average at Twitter is $143,204. You should take into consideration how difficult it might be to secure a job with one of these companies.

    View more details on hardware engineer salaries across the United States.

    Some other companies you might be interested in as a hardware engineer include Lockheed Martin, Cisco, and Intel. These three companies were found to hire the most hardware engineers from the top 100 U.S. educational institutions.

    For the most part, hardware engineers make their living in the technology and transportation industries. Hardware engineers tend to make the most in the automotive industry with an average salary of $106,285. The hardware engineer annual salary in the technology and telecommunication industries generally make $106,116 and $105,048 respectively. Additionally, hardware engineers who work in the automotive industry make 15.0% more than hardware engineers in the manufacturing Industry.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious hardware engineers are:

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    What Design Verification Engineers Do

    A design verification engineer is responsible for running diagnostic tests on project outputs and adjusting methodologies as needed to achieve high-quality deliverables according to clients' specifications and business requirements. Design verification engineers create efficient techniques to improve products and services by utilizing various system tools and applications. They also design engineering protocols by analyzing previous test designs and calibrating them with the team. A design verification engineer must have excellent technical skills, as well as highly-communicative and organizational, especially on meeting deadlines and working under minimal supervision.

    In this section, we take a look at the annual salaries of other professions. Take design verification engineer for example. On average, the design verification engineers annual salary is $12,365 higher than what hardware engineers make on average every year.

    While their salaries may differ, one common ground between hardware engineers and design verification engineers are a few of the skills required in each craft. In both careers, employees bring forth skills like python, rf, and pcb.

    There are some key differences in responsibilities as well. For example, a hardware engineer responsibilities require skills like "cad," "analog," "verilog," and "circuit design." Meanwhile a typical design verification engineer has skills in areas such as "uvm," "architecture," "debug," and "ip." This difference in skills reveals how truly different these two careers really are.

    Design verification engineers tend to make the most money in the start-up industry by averaging a salary of $162,166. In contrast, hardware engineers make the biggest average salary of $106,285 in the automotive industry.

    On average, design verification engineers reach higher levels of education than hardware engineers. Design verification engineers are 7.8% more likely to earn a Master's Degree and 0.7% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    What Are The Duties Of a Senior Staff Engineer?

    A senior staff engineer is responsible for supervising a team of engineers, chemists, software developers, or molecular biologists. His/Her or her responsibilities include generating Structured Query Language (SQL) performance audit checklist template, creating SQL data query routines and functions for data extraction, and working directly with stakeholders. The job requires strong mechanical, listening, and mathematical skills and proficiency in Python programming language and computer architecture and hardware. The education requirements for the job include a bachelor's or master's degree in electrical engineering, business, mechanical engineering, or a related field.

    Next up, we have the senior staff engineer profession to look over. This career brings along a higher average salary when compared to a hardware engineer annual salary. In fact, senior staff engineers salary difference is $31,119 higher than the salary of hardware engineers per year.

    While the salary may be different for these job positions, there is one similarity and that's a few of the skills needed to perform certain duties. We used info from lots of resumes to find that both hardware engineers and senior staff engineers are known to have skills such as "python," "rf," and "pcb. "

    While some skills are similar in these professions, other skills aren't so similar. For example, several resumes showed us that hardware engineer responsibilities requires skills like "analog," "cadence," "labview," and "circuit design." But a senior staff engineer might use skills, such as, "c #," "architecture," "software development," and "sql."

    It's been discovered that senior staff engineers earn higher salaries compared to hardware engineers, but we wanted to find out where senior staff engineers earned the most pay. The answer? The telecommunication industry. The average salary in the industry is $136,458. Additionally, hardware engineers earn the highest paychecks in the automotive with an average salary of $106,285.

    In general, senior staff engineers study at similar levels of education than hardware engineers. They're 2.9% more likely to obtain a Master's Degree while being 0.7% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    How a Verification Engineer Compares

    A verification engineer is responsible for running quality tests to the production processes to ensure high-quality outputs according to business requirements and client specifications. Verification engineers develop testing methodologies, inspect tools and equipment, and creating instructional manuals. They also resolve inconsistencies within the process, calibrating technical mechanisms, and identifying areas of improvement to enhance efficiency and build accurate deliverables. A verification engineer must have excellent communication and technical skills, especially in monitoring progress and coordinating with clients for necessary plan adjustments.

    Let's now take a look at the verification engineer profession. On average, these workers make lower salaries than hardware engineers with a $754 difference per year.

    Using hardware engineers and verification engineers resumes, we found that both professions have similar skills such as "python," "rf," and "analog," but the other skills required are very different.

    As mentioned, these two careers differ between other skills that are required for performing the work exceedingly well. For example, gathering from hardware engineers resumes, they are more likely to have skills like "pcb," "cad," "verilog," and "labview." But a verification engineer might have skills like "uvm," "architecture," "object oriented programming," and "fpga."

    Interestingly enough, verification engineers earn the most pay in the automotive industry, where they command an average salary of $109,698. As mentioned previously, hardware engineers highest annual salary comes from the automotive industry with an average salary of $106,285.

    When it comes to education, verification engineers tend to earn similar education levels than hardware engineers. In fact, they're 4.8% more likely to earn a Master's Degree, and 0.4% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    Description Of a Senior Computer Engineer

    A senior computer engineer's main goal is to conduct research and design different types of computer hardware and software systems. They must know to manage servers and create automation in projects. They should also know how to resolve network issues and troubleshoot problems.

    Now, we'll look at senior computer engineers, who generally average a higher pay when compared to hardware engineers annual salary. In fact, the difference is about $22,748 per year.

    While both hardware engineers and senior computer engineers complete day-to-day tasks using similar skills like rf, pcb, and cad, the two careers also vary in other skills.

    Each job requires different skills like "python," "analog," "cadence," and "verilog," which might show up on a hardware engineer resume. Whereas senior computer engineer might include skills like "c #," "infrastructure," "apple," and "eda."

    Now, let's take a closer look at the financials in each career. The retail industry tends to pay more for senior computer engineers with an average of $137,685. While the highest hardware engineer annual salary comes from the automotive industry.

    The average resume of senior computer engineers showed that they earn similar levels of education to hardware engineers. So much so that the likelihood of them earning a Master's Degree is 1.1% less. Additionally, they're more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree by 1.5%.